April 9, 1976

On this day in 1976, folksinger-songwriter Phil Ochs was found dead.

Ochs was in with the Greenwich Village scene and in the early 60’s, he was often referred to as the next Bob Dylan. His song’s were described by fans as “protest songs”, but Ochs preferred the term “topical songs”. He also wrote one of Joan Baez’s bigger singles – “There But For Fortune.”  

Ochs’ political activism is quite extensive. In the mid 70’s after being let down by the government one too many times, and the reality of the lack the “movement” had on actual change in the world, Ochs took to drink and became a paranoid alcoholic who was easily angered, he often made claims that the FBI and CIA were watching him.

In 1975, Ochs took on the identity of John Butler Train, telling people that Train had murdered Ochs, and that he, John Butler Train, had replaced him. Ochs started to carry weapons at all times: a hammer, a knife, or a lead pipe.

An attempt to have Ochs committed to a psychiatric hospital failed. Friends and family pleaded with him to get help voluntarily, fearing for his safety as Ochs had also began to live on the streets.

After his sister had taken him in, Ochs was found dead after he hanged himself in his sister’s New York home.

Ochs was 35 years old.




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