Mel Lyman



Chronological Collection
of Works
by and about

Mel  Lyman
the Lyman Family

including Texts and Excerpts



(detail of a photo by Michael Harvest, ca. 1962)



The material on this site is controversial. Almost all of it is from published sources, but in many cases the accuracy - the truth - of the content has been disputed.

Was that really the way it was?

Mel Lyman was controversial. He was the brilliant folk musician who soothed the Dylan-ruffled crowd at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, the Fort Hill guru whose prose in the undergound newspaper Avatar shocked conservative Bostonians of the late 60s...

He died some 25 years ago at age 40, and the articles and writings included here start from about 15 years earlier, from 1963. It's "ancient history", but a little piece of it was also my history, and Mel Lyman was important in my life. He taught me something important, something that changed me for the better, and so I feel I owe him at least this, a place on the Internet.

The last time I saw him was probably in 1967, so I have no first-hand knowledge of most of the events described here - I've never been to Fort Hill, and didn't know most of the people. It was because of rumors I read in newsgroups on the Internet around 1995 that I started this research - this site - to try to find some of the "truth" - to learn something about the Mel Lyman after I knew him.

Many years of collecting, and help from numerous people has resulted in the large collection of articles reproduced here. Some say Lyman was God... others that he was a devil... but most of these articles show him as a charismatic individual somewhere between those two extremes.

A large part of this is from the writings of Mel himself, from his published books and Avatar, so that he can "tell his own story." He has many, many voices.

Some of the links below are to subpages with additional articles, such as the large Avatar section. If some truth is to be found within the hundreds of pages included here, it will not be quickly, and not without patience.

The first piece below is from Mel's 1971 "Mirror at the End of the Road", a diary-like book he seems to have assembled mainly from letters he had written, like this one from early 1963. It reminds me of the writing of Jack Kerouac, and I find my own name and wonder why I can't remember it all as clearly as if it were yesterday...

Was that really the way it was?

pages with photos/images
1963   1964   1965   1966   1967   1968   1969   1970   1971   1972   1973   1975   1978   1979   1985   1986   1989   1990   1993   1995   1996   1997   1998   1999   2000   2001   2002   2003   2004   2005   2006   2007   2008   2011   2012   2013   2019   update log


With rue my heart is laden . Mel Lyman. January, 1963, Bowery loft, New York. (from Mirror at the End of the Road. 1971)

Two letters from Mel Lyman. Mel Lyman, May, 1963.

Sept. 18, 1963

Grandison Singers
Notes on Mel Lyman. The Broadside, Sept. 18, 1963, p.9. E.C. & F.L.
"...If Mel Lyman stays around Boston for awhile, it would give us all an opportunity to hear authentic music sung in a way that deserves to be perpetuated."


I dreamt about our old house in the country again last night. Mel Lyman. May 20, 1964, attic cave, Cambridge, Mass. (from Mirror at the End of the Road. 1971)

Jim Kweskin and the Jug Band
Just Playin' Folks. photographs by John Launois. Jim Kweskin and the Jug Band at the Second Fret, Phildelphia coffeehouse. Saturday Evening Post, p. 26-27, May 30, 1964.
Carolyn Hester

Mel Lyman on record: with Eric von Schmidt, Jim Kweskin and the Jug Band. 1964-1971.

It was through his music that Mel Lyman's name first became widely known -- click on the album covers for a detailed guide to all of his published recordings, with liner notes.


May 1965

Robert Kennedy
Harmonica (actual title unknown) by John Bowers. Coronet, May, 1965, pp 138-143. mentions Mel on p. 142...
... The "blues" harmonica moves in an underground world most of the time, not in the glare of publicity. It has "in" celebrities who are little known to most people. Sonny Terry, the great folk artist, is perhaps the most legendary figure. Then there's Mel Lyman, the Grand Old Man of the "blues" harmonica in his mid-twenties, who plays in a jug band and who has started many a young man on a promising "blues" career....

Aug. 18, 1965

Chambers Brothers
On the Scene by Robert J. Lurtsema. The Broadside, Aug. 18, 1965, ends with Mel at the Newport Festival:
...And from a lone mike on stage, the thin plaintive cry of a harp sobbed "Rock of Ages!' "Rock of ages, cleft for me..." it sang, over and over, the same simple chorus, the same refrain, and the audience fell in step. It was a plea, a hymn, a dirge, a lullaby. Twenty times, thirty, more, and always the same beseeching, stroking, praying, pleading; then slower, softer, and, as the supplication trailed away, the park was empty and people were on their way home.
Thank you, Mel Lyman.

Photo of Mel Lyman and Patrick Sky, by Julie Snow.
Philadelphia Harmonica Workshop, 1965.

Photo of Mel Lyman by Julie Snow   (2/66?)  

Photo of Mel Lyman
by Julie Snow, 1966.


Lyman Happens at Orleans. Linda Kalver, Boston After Dark, May 11, 1966.

Aug. 3, 1966
Mel Lyman
Jim Kweskin
Mel Lyman: in The Broadside, Cambridge, Mass., 1965-1966.

United Illuminating. Ralph Earle, The Broadside, Cambridge, Mass., August 3 & 17, 1966.

July 20, 1966

Newport Festival issue
Kweskin Jug Band cover

Hohner Blues Harp ad
from the 1966 Newport
Folk Festival brochure.

Autobiography of a World Saviour. [Mel Lyman]. 83pp, 10.2cm. ©Jonas Press. Printed in the U.S.A. GPO 1499. New York, New York 10001. 1966.

Loneliness is the sole motivation... (Introduction to Autobiography).

On writing "Autobiography of a World Saviour"


Happy Be-In-At Park. Bay State Banner, Roxbury, Mass. April 29, 1967.

October 28, 2010 - Issues of Avatar listed for sale on eBay

The Avatar "underground newspaper" is the key resource for an understanding of Mel Lyman and his contemporaries in the late 60s. Published 1967-68, it presented around 1,100 articles and letters, including over 150 by Mel. Some 200 of them - about half by Mel - are accessible here, via the links which start in this panel.

index to Mel's articles
index to other articles
Avatar. bi-weekly newspaper. 24 issues, Boston, June 9, 1967- Apr 26, 1968. -- A guide and index to all the Avatar issues.

Avatar & American Avatar articles & columns by Mel Lyman 1967-69. -- All the Lyman articles arranged by issue.

Eben Given: drawings from Avatar, 1967-68. -- Forty of the fine Eben Given drawings which helped earn the Avatar its high artistic reputation.

WBZ Radio Interview. WBZ's Bob Kennedy interviews Mel Lyman, Wayne Hansen, Eben Given. Early June, 1967. (partial transcript, Avatar N°6, Aug. 18, 1967.)

The Underground Press. Jacob Brackman, Playboy, p. 83, August, 1967. [The article was apparently written before the appearance of Avatar, which isn't mentioned. It was sent to Mel for comment, according the letter in Avatar N°6, p.14, from A.C. Spectorsky, Editorial Director, answered by Mel in that column, and the November 1967 issue of Playboy, below.]

Avatar: Notes from A Sober Underground. Michael Horowitz, The Village Voice, p. 18, October 5, 1967.

Avatar descends on Boston: The underground press speaks up. Jane Harriman, Boston Sunday Globe, October 8, 1967.

Avatar to be banned in Cambridge? Avatar N°11, p.17, October 27, 1967.

Letter to Playboy. Mel's response (among others) to Playboy's Jacob Brackman article, above. Playboy, November 1967, p 12.

Avatar Explains its Side. Jeremiah V. Murphy, Boston Globe, December, 1967.

Harrassment. Avatar N°14, p.3, Dec 8, 1967.

Friendly Fifty on Fort Hill -- Better Way for People? Robert L. Levey, Boston Globe, December 12, 1967.

Avatar and Fort Hill: A Community of Free Men. Steve Kovaka. Innisfree, pp. 4-7, December, 1967.

Festival: A film by Murray Lerner, DVD 2005 Eagle Rock Entertainment (©1967 Patchke Productions). (A musical film made from sequences at Newport Folk Festivals in the early '60s. Mel Lyman appears in the opening sequence, "Jug Band Prelude", with Kweskin behind Pete Seeger in "Green Corn", and with a brief comment after Dick and Mimi Farina.) - this was the Mel Lyman that I knew...


Incident in Harvard Square. Boston magazine, pp. 42-44, January, 1968.

Roy Cohn
GOD IS BACK, He says so himself. L.M. Kit Carson. Esquire Magazine, p.104-5, February 1968. Photograph by Diane Arbus. (Another Arbus portrait of Mel Lyman, apparently taken for the article but not printed in the magazine, appears in Arbus' Diane Arbus Magazine Work, Aperture, 1972, p.91.)
(detail of a photo by Diane Arbus, Esquire, February 1968)

White Revolutionaries Settle in Roxbury. Susan E. Davis. Bay State Banner, Roxbury, Mass. February 15, 1968.

Avatar Forces the Issue. Susan E. Davis. Bay State Banner, Roxbury, Mass. February 15, 1968.

How Escalation Brought the Chief to the Bargaining Table. Wayne Hansen. Avatar N°19, Boston. Feb. 16, 1968.

Transcript of an Interview Between Mel Lyman and Dave Silver. Avatar N°19, Boston. Feb. 16, 1968.

Battle of Four-Letter Words. Time, March 8, 1968.

New York Avatar. Mar 29, 1968 - August 1968 "...four Manhattan-based influential underground papers: the New York Free Press, the East Village Other, the Rat, and the Avatar." Steven Heller. "A Youth in the Youth Culture" Apr. 6, 1998.

Avatar closes its Mel. Robert L. Levey, Boston Globe, March 26, 1968(?).

The Structure of Structure. A conversation between Mel Lyman, David Gude, Jim Kweskin and Joey Goldfarb. Avatar N°22, Boston. Mar. 29, 1968.

Avatar Job Nets 45000. Brian Kelly. Boston Free Press, Third Edition, [May, 1968].

Avatar Heist. Brian Kelly. Boston Free Press, Fifth Edition, [June, 1968].

Grace Slick
The Boston Sound / The Velvet Underground & Mel Lyman. Wayne McGuire. Crawdaddy!, N° 17, p. 43, August 1968, New York.

The Flower People. Henry Gross. ("The Lynch Family" pp. 69-91) New York. Ballantine Books. pbk. 17.8 cm, 180 pp. 1968.

Non-Psychedelic Reflections of Fort Hill. Michele B. Slung. Harvard Summer News. August 20, 1968, p.3.

Mel Lyman on Music. New England Scene, October 1968, Boston, p.11.

Do You Know the Courage Man? Anthony R. Dolan, National Review, Dec. 3, 1968.


American Avatar. magazine. 4 issues. irregular. Boston. October 1968- Summer 1969.

Conversation between Paul Williams and Mel Lyman. transcript of a conversation recorded June 8, 1969, at Thomas Hart Benton's home on Martha's Vineyard. (in: Paul Williams, Pushing Upward, pp.295-317. Links Books, New York. 1973. reissued 2000.)

The Fort Hill Community. Mel Lyman. American Avatar (2). pp 22-33. Boston. November 1969.

Fort Hill: Re-inventing Life on a Hilltop in Roxbury. Robert L. Levey, Boston Globe, Sunday, February 1, 1970.
(Michael Kindman on this article, from "My Odyssey Through the Underground Press")


Pluto. "A magazine produced by the Lyman Family called Pluto appeared in New York, but it only lasted one issue." Paul Mills, "An American Avatar: Mel Lyman", Fusion, April 16, 1971. 48 pp. 1970.


An American Avatar: Mel Lyman, Paul Mills, Fusion, No. 54, pp 7-12, photographs by Peter Simon, cover drawing by Patrick Foss. April 16, 1971.

Robert Somma's "Editor's Page" introducing this article, in Fusion, No. 54, p. 3, April 16, 1971.
Robert Somma's follow-up "Editor's Page" on this article, in Fusion, No. 55, April 30, 1971.

The World is Dying. Richard Herbruck. L.A. Free Press June 11, 1971 p. 5).
(On the identity of Richard Herbruck, in David Felton, Chapter 7; in Michael Kindman, p. 437)

Plea For Courage. Mel Lyman. L.A. Free Press, July 30, 1971, p. 2; Fusion, (#62) Sept. 17, 1971.

Is Mel Lyman God? Art Kunkin, Los Angeles Free Press, (part 1) July 30, 1971.
God Is Mel Lyman. Art Kunkin, Los Angeles Free Press, (part 2) Aug 13, 1971.
["Art Kunkin founded and edited The Los Angeles Free Press in 1964, the first alternative newspaper then, co-founded the Underground Press Syndicate that became the national nervous system of the 60's, co-founded and edited the Whole Life Times in the 1980's, has been a contributor to and supporter of Change Links, edits the World Wide Free Press on the Internet, and has now been appointed publisher of "The Big Issue", U.S.A."]

"I want to take MIRROR AT THE END OF THE ROAD and wave it in front of every face in America and shout "Read this!"

Mirror at the End of the Road. Mel Lyman. [236] pp, 20.3cm. Illustrated by Ebon [Eben] Given. Photographs by Link Devereaux, Charles Frizzell, Bruce Gemill, Tony Glover, Bill Harrell, Michael Harvest, Mel Lyman, Ron McElderry, Julie Snow. Preface by Wayne Hansen. An American Avatar Publication. (Distributed by Ballantine Books.) ©1971 United Illuminating Inc. 27 Fort Avenue, Roxbury, Massachusetts 02119. 1971.
Epilogue, Valentine's Day, 1971.
(available for $30 including postage and handling from: Dick Russell, Six Fort Avenue Terrace, Boston, MA 02119-1480.)

letter from Mel Lyman to his 4th grade teacher, Dixie Duke, in Santa Rosa. (printed as part of the Epilogue to The Lyman Family's Holy Siege of America) Dec. 8, 1971.

Jim Kweskin's America, co-starring Mel Lyman and the Lyman Family. liner notes for the Reprise 6464 album. 1971.

(detail of a photo from 'Mirror at the End of the Road')

Kweskin's Revival. Dierdre Gallagher. B.A.D., Boston. September 28, l971. p.22.

Rolling Stone N° 98
Mel Lyman
The Lyman Family's Holy Siege of America, by David Felton. Part I. Rolling Stone. No. 98. p.40-60. (reprinted in Mindfuckers, below.) Dec. 23, 1971.

The Lyman Family's Holy Siege of America, by David Felton. Part II. Rolling Stone. No. 99. p.40-60. (reprinted in Mindfuckers, below.) Jan. 6, 1972.

Rolling Stone N° 99
Cat Stevens

"... Family members ... say the piece was defamatory and full of lies."
Lyman Family's Responses to Felton:
extracts from various articles, 1978-1997


 The Lyman Family's Holy Siege of America. David Felton. in: Mindfuckers: A Source Book on the Rise of Acid Fascism in America Including material on Charles Manson, Mel Lyman, Victor Baranco and their followers by David Felton, Robin Green, and David Dalton. pbk. 20.8cm, 324pp. (pp. 147-324). Edited by David Felton. ISBN 0-87932-038-9. Straight Arrow Books, 623 Third Street, San Francisco, California 94107. 1972.

Mel & Charlie's Women - The Souring of Street Life. Ellen Herst. Boston After Dark, p. 1, (12, 13). Vol. III, Num. 7, February 15-21, 1972.

Huey Newton
Beyond Shazam at Guru Gulch. Robin Green.
Rolling Stone #114, pp 14-15, Aug. 3, 1972.

Mel's "Bowery loft" (38 Canal Street, NYC)

from the back cover of Mirror
photo by Michael Harvest (?), 1960s.

ca. 1985
photo by Martin Abramowitz

facing south, 1990s
photo by Martin Abramowitz

photo by Matthew Klein

lyman, mel, in Mug Shots, by Jay Acton, Alan Le Mond, Parker Hodges. p. 134. World Publishing, New York. 1972.

Commitment and Community; Communes and Utopias in Sociological Perspective. Rosabeth Moss Kanter. Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press. x, 303 pp. 24 cm. bibliography: p. [270]-286. ISBN: 0-674-14575-5. 1972 (6th ptg 1977).


The Dangers of Charisma: Mel Lyman and Fort Hill from "The Lyman Family's Holy Siege of America" by Devid Felton, Rolling Stone, no. 98 (December 23, 1971), pp 43, 44-45, 50-51, and 54, with omissions. © 1971 by Straight Arrow Publishers, Inc. in: Communes: Creating and Managing the Collective Life. Rosabeth Moss Kanter. New York, Harper & Row. Chap. 17, pp. 209-221. ISBN: 0-06-043476-7. 1973.

Not of the World: A History of the Commune in America. Daniel Cohen. 23 cm, 224 pp, photos, index, bibliography: p. 206-207. ISBN: 0695804057, 0695404059 (lib. bdg.) Follett, Chicago. 1973. (The development of the commune from the Dutch Labadists of Maryland to the Children of God. Among those discussed are Ephrata, the Shakers, The Rappites, Amana, the Hutterites, New Harmony, Brook Farm, the Fourierists, the Icarians, Mel Lyman, Twin Oaks, and the Children of God.)

Mark Frechette - Daria Halprin...

Look, Nov. 18, 1969
Antonioni Flick: Sally Dennison interview by Rowland Koefod. Boston Free Press, [June 1968], p.4.

Antonioni's Newest Superstars. American Avatar, Summer 1969, pp 10-15.

Antonioni's America. Jack Hamilton, Look, November 18, 1969

Cinema: Fourteen Points to 'Zabriskie'. John Burks, Rolling Stone, #53, March 7, 1970

Daria. Pluto, 1970, pp 31-35.

Rolling Stone #53, March 7, 1970

Mark Frechette and Daria Halprin on the Dick Cavett show. ca. 1970 (YouTube clip).

Police Kill Gunman in Bank Holdup. Bert MacNeil and Jack Cadigan, Boston Herald American, August 30, 1973.

Gunman killed, 2 others arrested in holdup try at Roxbury bank. John Robinson, Boston Globe, August 30, 1973.

Man killed in robbery identified. Boston Globe, September 2, 1973.

Fort Hill commune seeks facts in bank holdup death. Joe Pilati, Boston Globe, September 3, 1973.

Actor finds his life took unplanned turn. Steven Kurkjian and John Robinson, Boston Globe, September 3, 1973.

Dick Cavett show, 1970

Mark Frechette: Making of a Bank Robber? Vin McLellan, The Boston Phoenix, September 4, l973, vol.2, no.36, Sec.I, p.1,8-9.

Where are the listeners? A journey from Fort Hill to Zabriskie to Cell 104. Bob Sales, Boston Globe, September 9, 1973.

Mark Frechette's 'Personal Act of Revolution'. Vin McLellan, B.A.D., Boston, September 11, l973, vol.7, no.37, Sec. I, p.3, 16-17,30.

Frechette of Fort Hill: Robbing the Bank for Mel. Joe Klein, The Real Paper, Boston, September 12, 1973, vol 2, no.37, p.5,16-17.

On the Set of Zabriskie Point. Beverly Walker, The Real Paper, September 12, l973, vol.2, no.37, p.5, l8.

Ricky Nelson to Jimmy Dean. Vin McLellan (Boston Phoenix), Rolling Stone, October 11, 1973, #145. ("Behind bars Mark Frechette is a curiously satisfied man...")

Watergate Playback: Political Cons Act Like Pros. New York, ca. March, 1975.

Up Front: Mark Frechette, star of Zabriskie Point, is a jailhouse producer. People, April 14, 1975.

Mark Frechette: A Manipulated Life. Dave O'Brian, The Boston Phoenix, p.9, 12, October 7, 1975.

The Sorry Life and Death of Mark Frechette. Dave O'Brian. Rolling Stone #199, November 6, 1975, p. 32.

Notes: Passenger/Mark Frechette. by Justin Beal, Helvetica, September, 2003, p. 30.

J. Hoberman: The Dream Life (2003). [section on Zabriskie Point, Frechette...].

Mark Frechette: At his peak in peak form (2013) [Frecehtte fashion photos by Richard Avedon, Vogue Nov. 15, 1969].


The Underground Woman. (a novel) by Kay Boyle. 264 p. 22 cm. Garden City, N.Y., Doubleday. ISBN: 0385070470. 1975.

In Between. (1964-1978). Jonas Mekas. Footage shot during the hiatus separating Lost, Lost, Lost from Walden Finds a Home. "Mel Lyman, Salvador Dali, Allen Ginsberg, Norman Mailer and Jane Holzer rub shoulders, at least cinematically. Mel Lyman playing banjo on the roof of 23rd Street was actually recorded on the roof, with the wind blowing in the mike." 52 min., with banjo and found music.


Commune's image belied reality. Katharine Paine, Staff Writer, The Boston Herald American, p. 1, March 26, 1978.

Spaceship interview given via Ouija board. Gary Moore, The Boston Herald American, p. 14, March 26, 1978.

Cult leader's early years were spent on the move. The Boston Herald American, p. 14, March 26, 1978.

"His Family says that he died in April, 1978, after a lingering illness."
Mel Lyman: Special Place in Family
Los Angeles Times, August 4, 1985


Baby Let Me Follow You Down: The Illustrated Story of the Cambridge Folk Years. Eric von Schmidt & Jim Rooney. University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst, Massachusetts. ISBN 0-87023-925-2N.FONT>. 1979. 2nd edition, 1994.


U and I. No. 1. 28 cm. [72] pp. ©United Illuminating, Inc. 1985.

(available for $15 including postage and handling from: Dick Russell, Six Fort Avenue Terrace, Boston, MA 02119-1480.)

We still are family — The Lymans of Fort Hill then and now. Michael Matza, The Boston Phoenix, Section Two, July 16, 1985.

Once-Notorious '60s Commune Evolves Into Respectability; After 19 Years The Lyman Family Prospers As Craftsmen And Farmers. David Johnston. Los Angeles Times, Sunday, Home Edition; View; Part 6; page 1. August 4, 1985.

Mel Lyman: Special Place in Family; Man They Worshiped as God Is Nowhere To Be Found. David Johnston. Los Angeles Times, Sunday, Home Edition; View; Part 6; page 14. August 4, 1985.

'60s commune finds affluence in the '80s. Suzanne Wetlaufer. The Sunday Enterprise, Brockton, Mass. Sunday, p. 1, August 4, 1985.

Family Portrait. Diane Samms Rush. The Wichita Eagle-Beacon, Wichita, Kansas. p. 1E. Sunday, September 22, 1985.

Commune Became His 'Family'. Diane Samms Rush. The Wichita Eagle-Beacon, Wichita, Kansas. p. 5E. Sunday, September 22, 1985.

The Fort Hill 'Gang' 20 Years Later: Controversial Hub commune of the '60s survives and prospers. Matt Carroll. The Boston Herald, p.12. Sunday, November 24, 1985.

Mel Lyman: A mind-control guru or a leader deserving respect and love? Matt Carroll. The Boston Herald, p.12. Sunday, November 24, 1985.

Uncovering the Sixties: The Life and Times of the Underground Press. Abe Peck. Pantheon, New York. 364pp. 1985. (Citadel Press, Citadel Underground Series, June 1991. ISBN: 0806512253).

The History of Boston Rock and Roll, from a series which originally appeared in The Beat Magazine throughout 1985-86, reprinted at the Dirtywater: The Boston Rock and Roll Museum site.


U and I. No. 2. 28 cm. 122 pp. ©United Illuminating, Inc. 1986.

(available for $15 including postage and handling from: Dick Russell, Six Fort Avenue Terrace, Boston, MA 02119-1480.)

U AND I.Crystal MacLean Field. Literary Magazine Review. pp.70-71. Kansas State University, Manhattan KS. January, 1986.

Quiet Survivors from the 1960s: The Lyman Family sets own course on a Kansas Farm. Brian Burnes. The Kansas City Star. p.1B. Thursday, March 27, 1986.

Benton Bash to be April 13. The Star's staff. The Kansas City Star. p.3B. Thursday, March 27, 1986.

U and I. Rob Peterson. The Land Report. Number 26. p.27. The Land Institute, Salina, Kansas. Spring, 1986.

After Two Oft-Troubled Decades, The Lyman Family Commune Scores A Sweet Song Of Success At Last. written by Roger Wolmuth, reported by Gail Buchalter and John Callan, photos by David Strick/Onyx. People, p.109-113, September 22, 1986.


The Lyman Family: A Story. in: What Am I Doing Here? (a collection of essays) by Bruce Chatwin [1940-1989]. 367pp, 19.8cm. p.36-41. Viking Penguin. New York. ISBN 0-1401-1577-3. 1989.


Mel Lyman - God's Own Story. Draft edition. Laura Whitcomb, compiled by Aes-Nihil. ©1989, Aes-Nihil Prod. 1989.

Apocalypse Culture: edited by Adam Parfrey; (contains Declaration of Creation as "Something as it really is," p.39). 1987. Expanded and Revised ed. (pbk), 362pp, 21.7cm. ISBN: 0-922915-05-9. Feral House, 1990, contains revised version of Laura Whitcomb's Mel Lyman: God's Own Story (above).

Rants and Incendiary Tracts: Voices of Desperate Illumination 1558-Present, edited by Bob Black and Adam Parfrey, anthology of 56 rants, includes Mel Lyman's Plea for Courage. pbk, 240 pp, Amok Press and Loompanics Unlimited. (ISBN 0941693031) 1989.


Learning From The Banjo. Stephen Trussel. 1990.


My Odyssey Through the Underground Press. Michael Kindman. in: Voices from the Underground: Insider Histories of the Vietnam Era Underground Press Vol. 1. pp. 369-478. edited by Ken Wachsberger. 608 pp, 28 cm. Mica Press. Box 25544 - Library Lane, Tempe, AZ. ISBN 187946101-3. 1993.

Harmonicas, Harps, and Heavy Breathers: The Evolution of the People's Instrument. Kim Field. pp 104-106. 347 p. incl. selected discography, bibliography, & index. ISBN: 0-671-79633-X (pbk). New York, Fireside Book/Simon and Schuster, 1993. (Revised, and expanded 2nd edition. Cooper Square Press, 2000)


Roots of Communal Revival 1962-1966. Timothy Miller. in: Farm History. The Farm Historical Society. Summertown, Tennessee. online article 1995 (?)


Kat. Guinevere Turner. in: Surface Tension: Love, Sex, and Politics between Lesbians and Straight Women. edited by Meg Daly. 245 pp, Simon & Schuster Trade Paperbacks. ISBN 068480221X. 1995. (from the Goddess Guinevere Turner Fanpage)

The Guin Turner Story: In Her Own Words. Guinevere Turner. 1996. from the Goddess Guinevere Turner Fanpage

"...I grew up in a Family of 150 people - 'The Family.' We didn't go to public school, and we didn't listen to radio. The only television shows we saw were old movies that we were required to watch. At night we all sat around and sang while the adults played instruments. It was a highly intolerant, manipulative, and frightening place to grow up, but we didn't know that. It was our lives for as long as we could remember, and we were taught to believe that we were being protected from the World."
Guinevere Turner: "Kat"


The Mel Lyman Webpage - October 10, 1996 - This Mel Lyman site appeared on the internet, in a much smaller version. The URL was Two years later the home page URL became what it is now,


Roxbury commune survives on Fort Hill. Seth Cobin. Bay State Banner, June 19, 1997.


A Youth in the Youth Culture. Steven Heller. online article Apr. 6, 1998.

Sleeping Where I Fall: A Chronicle. Peter Coyote. Counterpoint. 368 pp. $26. ISBN: 1887178678. 1998. online review article by Marc Carnegie, May, 1998.

Jim Kweskin and the Jug Band. by Craig Harris, All-Music Guide, 1998.

Folk; Jim Kweskin and Co. catch the spirit with jug band. Daniel Gewertz. Boston Herald, February 26, 1999.


mel lyman. song from the album "Bath, Michigan," by Landis MacKellar, 1999.

Cults. Kathy Reichs, Death du Jour. Pocket Books, 1999.

John Byrne Cooke's 1964 photos of the Jim Kweskin Jug Band, including some with Mel, and Jack Elliot, with Mel Lyman on harp. 1999.


Notes on the Avatar : The Hill People and the Valley People. Tim Kelly, personal communication, June, 2000.

A Comment from Ed Jordan. Ed Jordan, personal communication, July 14, 2000.

"So many years have passed...". Alex Simack, personal communication, November 1, 2000.

Footnote on Mel Lyman. Bill J. Harrell, footnote (3) from Charisma and the Con-man, ca. 2000.


"Correction to Felton...". Maryalice Ogilvie Cheesman, personal communication, January 20, 2001.

Ah, to Be Young and Stupid Again.... Seth Gordon, Letters to the Editor, Miami New Times, April 26, 2001.

Fort Hill tower. anonymous, personal communication, May 12, 2001.

When E-Prophecy Fails. Brett Sokol, Kulchur, Miami New Times, May 17, 2001.


Mel Lyman: Biography. Bryan Thomas. All-Music Guide, ca. 2002. (And at the Artist Direct website.)

Mel Lyman wrote many things.... Alex Simack, personal communication, November, 2002.

The Unlikely Sisterhood. Jennie Green. Boston Globe Magazine, December 2, 2002.


Just Like Old Times, A Jug Band Stompin'. Alex Ward, The New York Times, February 27, 2003.

June 4, 2003

Request for Information

I am working on a biography of Mel Lyman, from his years as a "folk musician" through his years writing for The Avatar and as a leader of the Fort Hill Community. I'm seeking to interview as many people as possible who knew Mel, as well as gathering copies of any letters, recordings, films, or other material that might be pertinent to this project. While I knew Mel personally during the last six years of his life and have for thirty years altogether lived as part of the extended family that formed around him in the 1960s, this biography will be written primarily in third-person narrative, utilizing along with excerpts from letters & diaries, the memories of numerous sources - some who admired, respected and loved Mel, others who did not. If you are interested in communicating with me about this, please send an e-mail to: (I also have a website,

Thank you.
Dick Russell

The Square: Stills from the Scene: Harvard Square and Cambridge, 1967-73. Photographs by Steve Nelson: an exhibit at the New England School of Art and Design, June 19 - July 18, 2003. (Steve Nelson wrote for the Avatar, including Legal Hangups (N°1), Legal Hangups (N°4), and Fat Catillac Blue Love and Mr. Jones (N°5)).

Comments on "Bryan Thomas: Biography of Mel Lyman". Anonymous, personal communication, August 19, 2003.


Cases & Controversies: The Avatar. "Four letter words in Chaucer's day" - sale of obscenity to minors - The Avatar underground newspaper - Commonwealth v. Faith Gude (1970). Harvey Silverglate. December, 2004.

Woody Guthrie on Acid: The extraordinary tale of the Mel Lyman Family. By Patrick 'The Llama' Lundborg. (including reviews of two albums: The Lyman Family with Lisa Kindred, and Jim Kweskin and Mel Lyman: America by PL.). In Ugly Things #22, pp 114-117, 2004.


Mel Lyman: Wikipedia Bio, [December, 2005]. (and at Wikipedia)


Ed Jordan of Avatar - obituary [d. March 14, 2006]

Jug Band's Kweskin Heading to LA. Carol Beggy and Mark Shanahan, Boston Globe, April 11, 2006, C12 Living

A Tokyo Gathering for a Jug Mate. (Death of Jug Band's Fritz Richmond). Susan Chaityn Lebovits, Boston Globe, April 9, 2006, p.9 Globe West

Free Press: Underground and Alternative Publications, 1965-1975. Jean-Francois Bizot. Universe, 2006.

Review of "Jim Kweskin's America" (blog). Justin F. Farrar. July 5, 2006

Vows: The Story of a Priest, a Nun, and Their Son , by Peter Manseau, 2006. pp 169-171.


Dan Oates, embraced family life after commune. obituary. Peter DeMarco. Boston Globe, June 25, 2007

On Ed Jordan's Passing. J. Michael Freedberg, personal communication, August 18, 2007.

Norman Mailer, RIP. William F. Buckley's obituary of Mailer, including quotes from Mel. Yahoo News, Nov. 13, 2007


M. Preston Burns, Avatar Board member... obituary. January 12, 2008

Sixties Folk Icon Makes Rare Appearance. Hal Gelb. Jim Kweskin on stage at Freight & Salvage. East Bay Express, Feb. 27, 2008

Avatar 25, "the 'lost' issue", with recollections of the editor, Charles Giuliano, 40 years later. July 2, 2008

In Heaven Everything is Fine: The Unsolved Life of Peter Ivers, by Josh Frank with Charles Buckholtz, 2008. pp 71-72.


The Mel Lyman Personality Cult Revisited, WFMU's Beware of the Blog, March 27, 2011. Kliph Nesteroff

Mel Lyman Plea for Courage, Dec. 4, 2011. (reading of Mel's "Plea for Courage"). Hiram Corso

Mel Lyman Birth Track 1, Dec. 17, 2011. (music). Hiram Corso

Mel Lyman U & I Band, Dec. 18, 2011. (music). Hiram Corso


Mel Lyman Breakthrough With the Mirror Man, Aug 27, 2012. (documentary). Hiram Corso


The Jim Kweskin Jug Band celebrates its 50th anniversary (Boston Globe). Aug. 22, 2013. James Reed


My Childhood in a Cult (The New Yorker). May. 6, 2019 (online edition dated 4/29/2019). Guinevere Turner
"On our isolated commune, we kids were taught that the world was about to end. But my world ended when I was told to leave."


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With thanks to:
Dick Russell, for most of the material written by Mel Lyman,
Alex Simack, for additional material by Mel Lyman,
Peter Mork, for many of the Boston Globe and other newspaper articles,
Doug Thompson, for most of the material on Mel Lyman's recordings,
and many others, credited under the articles.

Mel's writings and Avatar articles reprinted under license from United Illuminating Realty Trust

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