The wait is over The Phil Ochs documentary, “There But For Fortune” is opening at Laemelle theaters in L.A.on Friday March 4th! It has been breaking records in New York since it opened last month.

A few weeks ago I had dinner with some friends that included former publicist/ archivist, Michael Ochs, brother of Phil Ochs, one of the most important voices of the ‘60s and ‘70s. I knew Phil slightly, but had a great respect for him as an artist and as a man. I asked Michael for a little info on the making of the documentary and a little insight into his brother

 AW- How long did it take to make the film?

 MO- Ken Bowser and I actually first started shopping it 19 yrs ago and got no interest at that time.  However, 6 yrs ago three separate documentarians contacted me wanting to do a doc. on Phil.   So, I went back to Ken and asked if he was still interested.  Not only was he interested but he was willing to put up his own money to start the ball rolling.  Two yrs into the project, Michael Cohl (ex CEO of Live Nation) agreed to back the project

 AW- How about an interesting story?

 MO- I had actually approached Michael Cohl when I was selling the Archives to see if he would be interested.  He had absolutely no interest in buying the Archives but had heard about the doc. Ken and I were working on. Turns out Cohl started in the biz with a folk club in Toronto and had booked Phil early on.  Cohl said he loved Phil as an artist and as a person and would love to back the film.  So, inadvertently, my selling the Archives got this film done.

AW- With the current political unrest in the US, which of Phil’s songs should be re-examined?

MO-  A good percentage of the topical songs still apply.  You might have to change some names to not protect the guilty.  Eddie Vedder did that with “Here’s To The State Of Mississsippi” by making the song about Bush. Or to be more specific as to timeliness, try “I’m Gonna Say It Now” (1965):

“I’ve read of other countries where the students take a stand

They’ve even helped to overthrow the leaders of the land.”

 AW- What can be learned from the film

 MO- It’s possible for the individual to effectuate change.  And, don’t follow leaders or parking meters!

 Thanks to Michael Ochs for mini-interview… Now here’s a preview of the film.

KPFK Radio will be hosting a special screening of Phil Ochs: There but for Fortune Thursday March 10th at Laemmle’s Monica 4-plex 1332 2nd Street in Santa Monica. at 7pm

There will be a Q&A after the screening with KPFK’s Roz Larman host of Folkscene and Michael Ochs, brother of Phil Ochs and one of the producers of the documentary.The film opens in Laemmle theaters on Friday March 4th, more info available at
and for more information about KPFK’s special sceening of Phil Ochs: There but for Fortune Thursday March 10th at 7pm go to

Copyright 2011 by Artie Wayne-



The last time I saw folk singer/ activist Phil Ochs was at a small celebration the day that Nixon resigned live on TV. His brother, and my friend, publicist Michael Ochs, arranged for an NBC-TV crew to record Phil’s reaction to his arch enemy’s fall from power…while we all cheered!

It must’ve been one of the most gratifying times in Phil’s life to see the evil that he fought so hard against in his songs brought to his knees.

It was the songs of Bob Dylan and Phil Ochs that drew me into the folk song protest movement of the early sixties, up until then I was just an other Brill building songwriter with a pop music monkey on his back!

For a while I followed in the footsteps of my “folk” heroes and played in Greenwich Village on hoot nights at the Bitter End and Gerde’s Folk city, with Paul Simon and Roger McGuinn backing me up on guitar. Then I lost interest in becoming the next Pete Seeger (when no one would actually pay me to play in their club) and I became a songplugger.

I look back in retrospect and realize how lucky I was to grow up and experience what I did in the middle of the Folk Movement. I can’t wait to see the documentary on Phil Ochs, “There But For Fortune” which is playing to sell out crowds in New York and relive some of those incredible times.

As I was going through the YouTube collection of Phil’s Videos I wanted to post, I realized I haven’t heard most of the songs in over 30 years. I also realized that many of them are as timely now as when Phil wrote them.

The preview of the Phil Ochs Documentary makes a point that, “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it”. I can understand why so many people who are disappointed in the lack of content in today’s music are re-examining Phil’s songs as blueprints for a better present and a more promising future.

Copyright 2011 by Artie Wayne-