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Fugs Co-Founder Kupferberg Passes

The brilliant, acerbic Tuli was 86

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Tuli Kupferberg.(Steve Ben Israel)

More sad news today: Tuli Kupferberg, the classic counter-cultural figure who achieved greatest fame for co-founding the satirical band The Fugs, has died at 86. This according to journalist Jon Kalish, who heard the news from a neighbor of Kupferberg’s.

Earlier this year, Kalish profiled Kupferberg on our Vox Tablet podcast series. Though blind, Kupferberg was then preparing the release of a new Fugs album and continuing to update his YouTube page with his “Daily Perverbs.”

Kupferberg was born to a Yiddish-speaking family in New York. He quickly disowned the Jewish religion (he was reportedly expelled from Hebrew School), but was deeply engaged with Jewish and Yiddish culture until the end, Kalish reported.

According to his Wikipedia page, Kupferberg is the person who, in Allen Ginsberg’s Howl, “jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge this actually happened and walked away unknown and forgotten into the ghostly daze of Chinatown”—except it was the neighboring Manhattan Bridge.

On the podcast, you can hear excerpts from several of Kupferberg’s songs. One goes like this:

Backwards Jewish soldiers
Strolling back from war
Hug your Gentile brothers
As you’ve done before
Presidents and premiers perish
Empires rise and fall
But hearts of all compassion
Still might save us all

Related: Fugging Around [Tablet Magazine]

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Stuart says:

Thanks for 40 plus years of smiles and great songs, Tuli!
You will be missed.

Monday nothing……..

Thelma Blitz says:

Ginsberg’s description in Howl is fictitious. Tuli wanted everybody to know that you can’t just walk away from jumping off a bridge. He was picked up by a passing tugboat and taken to a hospital with severe injuries to the transverse process of his spine. He then spent a lot of time in a body cast. If you want to follow Tuli, oppose all wars, live with humor and humanity and don’t jump off any bridges.

jim fouratt says:

Tuli a kind and provocative artist. A man who taught so many of us how to tell the truth with integrity, passion, humanity and a wicked sense of humor,

Tuli was gifted in many ways. I’m a bit surprised that he was as old as he was. I will always remember that the best way to avoid the draft is to install weather stripping.
And, his interpretation of “The Ten Commandments” is one of the very best there is.

`//rite On!

thank you for using my picture of tuli…best steve ben israel
a toast………………to the future…………may it come back…sbi

Hershl says:

A truly great and gifted man.

The Fugs used to play in Tomkin’s Square park for free. They were wonderful. Check out their music if you can find it. Worth listening to and hilarious. Will take you back to those good days.

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Ron Wolf says:

I guess I am proof that bad news does not always travel fast. Needless to say Ed, Tuli and the Peaceye Bookstore were “watershed” events in my short life (always wondered where that came from). Both, masters of inuendo and rhyme they were at least one lightyear ahead of their time, thus explaining our present two step backward idiocracy armed only with a technology far beyond Tuli’s allusion to the quantum leap between the fifties and sixties.
In my acid stained mind The Peace Eye next to Joe Scimes Park Center Hardware on Avenue A across from Tompkins will live on forever along with the Bodega downstairs from my eighty dollar a month apartment on Avenue A and eleventh. Beyond Punk, and other hypes these marginalized leaders and Bodhisatvas are passing, their humor and love of life will have to wait to be picked up by some distant band of the bright young and curious. Feels so lonesome in the morning.

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Fugs Co-Founder Kupferberg Passes

The brilliant, acerbic Tuli was 86

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