Guest Profile

Frank Hamilton

Frank Hamilton grew up in Los Angeles, the son of a classical piano teacher. Looking for his own musical path, Frank quickly fell in with LA’s growing folk music scene, and was on stage by the age of 16 with the Sierra Folksingers, who had brought the hootenanny to California from New York City.

Frank met Will Geer, the Hollywood actor who introduced Frank to his friend, Woody Guthrie, with whom he played, and to Pete Seeger, the Weavers, and Bess Lomax Hawes, who was deeply committed to American folk music. Bess taught Frank “Group Teaching”, which was not only efficient, but socially beneficial. Frank was impassioned to share the music with as many people as possible.

Frank became friends with rising Chicago-based folksinger Bob Gibson who invited him to come sing with him at the Gate of Horn. There he met Win Stracke, with whom he co-founded the Old Town School of Folk Music in 1957. Students of Frank’s included Roger McGuinn of the Byrds, Linda Ronstadt, Karla Bonoff, Don McLean, Odetta and many others. The Old Town School of Folk Music is still thriving over a half-century later.

Based on his teaching methods from the Old Town School, Frank co-founded the Frank Hamilton School in Atlanta in 2015. Now, at the age of 88, Frank remains a revered leader of Atlanta’s folk music community.