George Pickow, 1922-2010

Photo by Steve Guglielmo. (From

George Pickow, photographer and husband to singer Jean Ritchie, passed away earlier this month.

An excerpt from the New York Times obituary:

Working quietly behind the scenes, Mr. Pickow documented the bubbling cultural ferment of New York City, and in particular Greenwich Village, where he and Ms. Ritchie lived after their marriage in 1950. For Elektra Records and other labels, he photographed folk singers like Josh White, Pete Seeger, Judy Collins and, of course, Ms. Ritchie, as well as jazz and pop artists like Little Richard, Dizzy Gillespie, Tony Bennett, Nina Simone and Louis Jordan.

As the Times relates, George met his wife at a square dance in 1948 and became an important photographer of folk singers. He also manufactured dulcimers for a decade. He collaborated with his wife on a number of books, including providing the wonderful photographs in Jean Ritchie’s Swapping Song Book.

Thistle and Shamrock’s December 16th broadcast is about Jean Ritchie and dedicated to Mr. Pickow’s memory. The New York Times also published an article in 1999 about Mr. Pickow, entitled “Stepping Out from the Camera”.

You can view some of his photography from Getty Images. The James Hardiman Library in Galway hosts a collection of photographs from Ireland 1952-3, which includes some fine portraits of familiar musicians among other subjects:

Photo by George Pickow: Tommy Makem on accordion, Jack Makem on piccolo, and John Conway on fiddle. (From the James Hardiman Library.)

People have been sharing their stories and expressing condolences at The Mudcat Cafe and Ms. Ritchie’s Facebook page.