Singer-songwriter Arlo Guthrie has announced on Facebook that he is retiring after a 50-year career of performing and acting.
Guthrie said ill health caused by a series of strokes led him to acknowledge that he was no longer up for the road. The pandemic and its cancellations also played a part in his decision to hang things up.
His “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree” song, commonly referred to as “Alice’s Restaurant,” is a talking blues song that was released as the title track to his 1967 debut album. The song relates his tale of being arrested and convicted of dumping trash illegally, a crime which later saw him rejected by his draft board because of his criminal record. The title is a reference to a restaurant owned by Guthrie’s friends and played no role in the story.
The song served as the inspiration for the 1968 comedy film by Arthur Penn starring Guthrie as himself, with Pat Quinn as Alice Brock and James Broderick as Ray Brock.
The song was selected in 2017 for preservation in the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress, which honors works as being “culturally, historically, or artistically significant.”
Guthrie, the son of folk singer Woody Guthrie, appeared at the original Woodstock and later was at the 2015 version, the only original performer at the 50th anniversary held in 2019.
He was a four-time Grammy nominee and won a Grammy in 1987 for Best Contemporary Folk Recording for his “Tribute to Steve Goodman.”