Moondog / May 26, 1916 - Sept 8, 1999

"The Viking of 6th Avenue", Lewis Hardin was better known as "Moondog", composer, instrument-builder, philosopher and mystical NYC street character. He was from a Kansas farm and was blinded at 16 by dynamite. He attended music school for the blind and lived briefly in the South during the late '30s/early '40s before moving to NYC in '43. There he quickly befriended Charlie Parker, Toscanini, Benny Goodman, Leonard Bernstein and other musical luminaries.

He was a busking musician and earned money selling his poems. He spent 25 years on the streets of NY, often along 6th ave, between 52nd & 55th Streets. Bearded and with long-hair, he would wear a cloak with viking helmet & sandals and often just stand still holding his hand-made spear. His music combines elements of classical, indigenous, bebop, modal, minimalism and urban noise. He made rounds, recorded jazz-influenced tunes, children's music (with Julie Andrews!), wrote for wind instruments and invented various percussion and stringed instruments. Of course, his score sheets were in Braille. He also composed for commercials and his tunes have been used in film soundtracks.

His songs often took a tone against capitalism, government and religion. He has been covered or paid tribute by a number of notable acts, such as Big Brother & Holding Company, Kronos Quartet, Jimmy McGriff, The Pentangle, Mr Scruff, Daniel Lanois, John Fahey and several others. He was also a major influence on Philip Glass and Steve Reich. Finally moving on from 6th Ave, he spent his last 25 years in Germany, conducting symphony orchestras and still performing in the streets. "I'm not gonna die in 4/4 time."

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