Peter Walker is one of the figures who revolutionized acoustic guitar music in the mid-1960s, combining the Indian ragas he studied with Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan with flamenco and other Western folk forms. Last week some sad news reached me: Walker’s Woodstock home, which he called the Ark, and all of its contents—including his guitars and items from his numerous world travels—were completely destroyed by a fire after a guest knocked over a candle inside the house (Walker’s dog Zorro died in the blaze, which also destroyed two adjacent, occupied rental properties). A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the influential musician in the aftermath of this devastating loss.
Walker, now 80, famously provided the music for Timothy Leary’s acid festivities at the Hitchcock Estate in Millbrook and released two seminal albums on the Vanguard label during the psychedelic era: 1966’s Rainy Day Raga and 1968’s Second Poem to Karmela or Gypsies Are Important. His many guitar disciples include the late Jack Rose, Ben Chasny (Six Organs of Admittance), Thurston Moore, and Nels Cline, who recorded with Walker and Mercury Rev offshoot Harmony Rockets for this year’s Lachesis/Clotho/Atropos.
Here’s Walker making magic in 2014:
To contribute to Peter Walker’s “Rebuild the Ark” fund and see images of the fire’s destruction, visit: