Peter Grudzien is an American country/psychedelic singer-songwriter, photographer, commercial artist, musician and recording engineer. Grudzien's music has been well known in the outsider music community since its inclusion in Irwin Chusid's book Songs in the Key of Z: The Curious Universe of Outsider Music (2000). "There's a Star Spangled Banner Waving Somewhere" is included on the companion CD for the book.
Grudzien grew up listening to classical music and later discovered country. In the fifties, he started listening to such artists as Hank Williams, Lefty Frizzell, and Johnny Horton. (see Esoteric Culture, Issue 2, Robert Koenig) Peter had a recording contract at the age of sixteen with the Pell Brothers whom he refers to as "Brooklyn hillbillies". They wrote the music; he wrote the lyrics.
He was tremendously influenced by Dylan, whom he met briefly. Grudzien was part of the group of luminaries such as John Herald, Peter Stampfel, Phil White, and others who played around Greenwich Village. Although he had his picture taken with Cash they did not otherwise meet and certainly never played together.
Grudzien's LP, The Unicorn, was released in 1974. Grudzien had 500 copies pressed and tried, unsuccessfully, to sell them in bookstores. The album was almost entirely written, played, and produced by Grudzien except for the piano intro in "The Innocents", transcribed by a friend whose name he has forgotten (see Koenig). The Unicorn was re-released on CD by Parallel World in 1995. The CD release of The Unicorn also included several new songs by Grudzien, including his take on the American standard, "There's a Star Spangled Banner Waving Somewhere", updated with many openly gay sentiments. According to Grudzien's associate Barbara Zigman, Grudzien did not receive any royalties from Parallel World for the CD reissue. According to the label owners, the CD never sold enough to recoup the reproduction costs (which were very high because of the poor condition of the master tapes), and as per the lease agreement, was not required to dispense any royalties until such costs were recouped. An advance had been offered, which Grudzien turned down.
Grudzien still occasionally performs in the New York area. He no longer records. Several post-Unicorn tapes and CDs were produced but are not generally available. However, he recently recorded "Little Boxes", a folk song remake for Bob Koenig's "Abbey Lane" CD. 1
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