In Memoriam: Spider John Koerner (August 31, 1938 – May 18, 2024)

“Spider” John Koerner, the influential guitarist, singer, and songwriter, passed away on May 18, 2024, at the age of 85, surrounded by family in his Minnesota home. His unique style and passion for the folk and blues genres left a lasting mark on the music world and his style and musical contributions won’t soon be forgotten.

Born in Rochester, New York, Koerner moved to Minnesota in 1956 to study aeronautical engineering at the University of Minnesota. However, his path soon shifted towards music, where he became a fixture in the Twin Cities music scene. He was a mentor to a young Bob Dylan, who later wrote about Koerner’s influence in his autobiography, Chronicles, Vol. 1.

Koerner’s legacy is perhaps best encapsulated by his work with Dave “Snaker” Ray and Tony “Little Sun” Glover. Their album Blues, Rags & Hollers became a foundational piece for many musicians, influencing the likes of John Lennon, David Bowie, and Beck.

Koerner also left a mark through his solo endeavors and his collaboration with Willie Murphy on the 1969 album Running, Jumping, Standing Still.

Although Koerner never sought the limelight, his contributions to music were profound. As he once said, “I’m just a guy who got into this for fun, and because to this day I don’t know what else I could do to make a living.” His humility and dedication to his craft will continue to inspire musicians and fans alike.

Koerner is survived by loving family members.


With thanks to Minnesota’s Star Tribune for their comprehensive article. Additional information sourced from TheCurrent.org, Wikipedia, and The Guardian.


See below for some of our Spider John favorites.

“Good Time Charlie”

“Black Dog”

“I Ain’t Blue”

“Linin’ Track”

“Ramblin’ Blues”

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