Larry “Ratso” Sloman on Tuli Kupferberg

Tuli Kupferberg was a mentor to all of us who grew up in the ’60s and sensed there was more to life than shuffling off to Vietnam and, if you returned, getting a job as an accountant and paying off a white picket fenced home in Levitttown. Like a Colossus he bridged the worlds of the literary Beats and the hedonistic hippies and infused his gentle, pacifist worldview into everything he did. His work would make you laugh out loud and cry inside. Watching him perform his incredible songs like “Nothing”, “Morning Morning”, and “Kill for Peace” with The Fugs was a cultural revelation and more mind-altering than any psychedelic. The fact that Tuli continues to make his voice heard, via You Tube, at 86, and after two debilitating strokes, makes him an American treasure and puts all of us who can still feel greatly in his debt.

Kupferberg co-founded the Fugs in 1965 and has continued performing until now. He’s 86, recently had two stokes that have left him incapacitated and nearly blind. Since our health care system sucks, he’s got bills he can’t pay.

On Jan 22. there will be a benefit concert for him in NYC with the Fugs, Sonic Youth, Lou Reed, John Zorn, and others. Donate here. I just did.

Tuli Kupferberg benefit Jan. 22. Co-founded The Fugs

Both were written by Kupferberg and recorded in ’64-’65.

“Kill for Peace” remains one of the best antiwar songs ever written. From the YouTube description. “Timeless classic…the ‘enemy’ may change, but the sentiments remain the same…”

“CIA Man” was featured in “Burn After Reading”, the recent Coen Brothers movie with Tuli on vocals. This is the original version.

Tuli Kupferberg and Ed Sanders co-founded The Fugs in 1964 on the Lower East Side of NYC. They were maybe the first protest group; anarchic, funny, horny, capable of biting satire as well as putting William Blake’s poetry to music.

They showed us protest could be fun. “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be in your revolution” indeed. They have influenced countless bands and politicos, including me.

Kupferberg was 42 when the Fugs began. He has continued making music and writing poetry but recently suffered two strokes which tragically have left him blind with medical bills of up to $3500 a month he can not pay. In a civilized country with actual medical care, this would not be be an issue. Nor will the piece of fluff pretending to be health care reform help him.

On Jan. 22 Lou Reed, The Fugs, The John Zorn trio and others will hold a benefit for him. Full info on, their official site.

After treatment at a hospital in New York, followed by convalescence at a nursing home, Kupferberg now is back home, during which time his eyesight was improving. Unfortunately Tuli had a second stroke in September, a smaller stroke apparently, which affected his speech area slightly. He has continued to improve, but is still basically blind, and in need of 24 hour care.

Tuli Kupferberg, who has just turned 86!!!, is an American treasure, a National wonder, a Gaian glory, a genius in the footsteps of Stephen Foster and other major tunesmiths, for songs such as “Nothing,” “Morning Morning, ” “Carpe Diem,” “Kill for Peace,” “The Ten Commandments,” “When the Mode of the Music Changes,” and, of course, “CIA Man,” which was featured on the recent Coen Brothers movie, Burn After Reading.

BTW, their Fugs Final CD Vol 1 which was released in 2004 is probably their best ever.

Wikipedia for The Fugs