Alan Acuff grew up in rural Ohio and Pennsylvania. He fell in love with guitars at an early age. He said to his mother, “Ma I want to be a guitar player when I grow up.”
Al’s mother answered, “You’ll have to make up your mind son. You can’t do both,”
Back in the early 1970s Al’s songwriting drew praise while he was a student at CAL ARTS. In John Baldessari’s legendary Post Studio Art class Al was encouraged to use his songs as video soundtracks. John liked Al’s videos and showed them to a few friends. In short time Al’s videos became art exhibition favorites in museums and galleries around the world.
And that’s how Al accidentally became an early California video art pioneer. His videos tells stories of art, love, and loss. They have passed the test of time and now Al’s 1970s videos are in permanent museum collections. The videos can now be viewed at The Getty in Los Angeles and MOMA in NY. Al is featured in the book California Video: Artists and Histories by Glen Phillips (published by The Getty).
In those days you couldn’t make a living producing video art so after graduating CAL ARTS in 1976 Al remained in California working various day jobs while working as a musician at night.
Then in 1979 Al met Ramblin’ Jack Elliott who was recently arrived in L.A. and needed a place to park his Dodge truck for a little while. Ramblin’ Jack wound up parking near Al’s Venice Beach pad for a couple of weeks. While he camped at Al’s place Jack payed his rent with songs and stories about Woody Guthrie. (Thanks Jack!)
It will come as no surprise dear reader that, inspired by Jack’s stories and songs, Al departed Los Angeles to pick and grin and do some rambling round. He travelled hot dusty roads and made many friends. Eventually Al rambled his way to Santa Fe, New Mexico where he lives happily ever after.