Biographer reveals Seasick Steve’s secret past

A new biography on the folk musician claims that Seasick Steve was a successful session musician who produced Modest Mouse’s debut album

The Guardian have revealed details of a new biography on folk musician ‘Seasick’ Steve. Steve has claimed to be a 66 year old, former homeless person who taught himself guitar and worked blue-collar jobs before finding fame as ragtag musician. The book, authored by Matthew Wright, claims to offer a different version of events. Wright says that he discovered that Steve is actually ten years younger than he has previously stated, has been using a fake name and was actually a technically skilled and prolific session musician. He even produced an early Modest Mouse album under his birth name Steve Roach.

An extract from The Guardian article says “Steve claims to have been born in 1941, like Bob Dylan, Paul Simon and Joan Baez. His passport says he was born in 1951, making him a contemporary of Sting, Chris Rea and Bonnie Tyler. Wright dug out that Steve’s real name is Steve Leach, rather than the woodier-sounding Wold. The penny-dropping moment came for Wright when he discovered that in the early 70s, Steve Leach had played bass in a band called Shanti, devotees of transcendental meditation, whose sole album was reissued last year. At the time he was playing with Shanti, though, Steve had said he “was living and playing in Paris on the street in 1972. I was living in a park and it was real rough, and all that.”

The allegations, as Brooklyn Vegan points out are not exactly revelatory, as it was previously known that Steve had worked in the music industry for some time. It does, however, reveal that he was a successful session musician during the 1970s, a period in which he has previously said he was sleeping rough. See a video of Seasick Steve performing with Shanti (that’s him on bass) in the player below.