George Cromarty – Grassroots Guitar

I love this record! From 1973 on Thistle records this record is comparable to John Fahey. Thirteen acoustic finger pickin instrumentals and one vocal cut at the end called “little children” that reminds me of a heartfelt Nick Drake tune. Great stuff.

George Cromarty: “Little Children”


  • I have his Wind in the Heather and have been searching for other albums by him. Do you know of anyplace I can find them, vynil or CD?

  • I have 2 copies of Grassroots Guitar and The Only One on Thistle records plus 1 copy of Wind In The Heather. I would certainly be willing to pay well for CD’s or an MP3 of these recordings. how can one get these wonderful recordings on digital so they can be preserved and enjoyed? I acutally purchased the Thistle recordings from George at a Morro Bay address listed on his record in mid 1970’s. any info as to where to get CD’s would be greatly appreciated by me and possibly many fans who hold on to and cherish their LP’s. God Bless!!!

  • Hello:
    I’m in touch with George Cromarty’s daughter, and she does not have all of his music. Could I get a cassette copy of The Only One for her? As far as I know, these three were his only solo albums. He also did a recording as part of a duo called The Goldcoast singers, in the sixties. I doubt these will ever be on CD.

  • As a young man I loved George’s music, I still find the song Little Children running around in my head. Once when I was working at an amusement park in Santa Cruz George showed up looking for a job. I was thrilled tomeet him, he seemed surprised that I knew his music. What happened to him?

  • I knew George and Ed Rush as the Goldcoast Singers in the early 60’s. In fact, I introduce them on their LP recorded at San Francisco State in March of 1963. I do have a cassette of Heather in the Wind, but woud love copie of Grassoots Guitar and The Only One if anyone would be willing to dup them for me. I have tried to find them with no success.

  • I can’t believe I found this. On January 19th, 1961, I spent a sort of farewell evening in the Cromarty home in Fresno, CA, as the guest of George’s sister. The following morning, I reported for duty in the US Army.

    A group of us spent time at the same coffee house there, called “The Renaissance.” I have always wondered what became of the two of them.

  • I believe that Geroge Cromarty’s Grassroots Guitar recording may have been re-issued by a Japenese company that re-issues out-of-print “folk” recordings. It may be found at If you can read Japenese it will help (I can’t). This is NOT an endorsement of the soundfinder company; but they list a japanese re-issue of another recording that was hard to find.

  • Whatever happened to George Cromary? I can not find anything via Google.

  • How can I find/buy George Cromarty’s songs?
    Are they launched in CD or some recent midia player?
    I am specially interestd in the album ‘Wind in the Heather’, but any other would be wellcome.
    Thanks for any help.
    A. Siani

  • Hi folks, it seems George has left the building since long. Last time I heard from him he was living in Moro Bay. By the way: his music is not comparable with the music of Fahey or anyone else, it is outstanding.
    Best wishes,

  • I have just received news that George Cromarty passed away in 1992. Can anyone confirm?
    Ed Soren
    former musical partner of George Cromarty

  • Hi, I’m Simone and I’m George’s middle child. I have an older brother and a younger sister from George. I live in Northern California.
    George passed away in 1991. I only met him once physically 6 months before his passing. It was an interesting 3 days. I had sought him out after a combination of his and my mother’s relationship going horribly wrong (according to her) and her efforts to make sure he was never in my life. I finally went looking for him at age 17 and was thrilled when I found out he wanted to meet me as well. I’m happy I met him at least once. I wish it could have been more more than anyone could ever know.
    He seemed to live his music in every moment and from what his friends have told me in learning more about him, had the potential to be truly amazing. I was truly astonished by his energy and talent. He was larger than life.
    My love goes out to George Winston who has recently enabled me to learn more about my dad through his music and artistic contributions and has treated me like his own daughter. He’s given me letters, stories and provided me with the only bits of music (tapes and vinyl) he had to give in order to make sure I had a piece of him. He (G.W.) has become a treasure to me.
    Growing up, I always knew (G.C.) he was my father but I never knew from what metals he was made. Reading the kind and appreciative comments like these above and learning what George (Winston) and his friends have been willing to share with me has meant the world. I am proud to say I now have very interesting stories for my own girls about their grandfather even if they will never meet him.
    Thank you George (Winston) and all the others (Gail etc) who’ve helped me to tie up loose ends I never thought I’d see resolved. His Musical genes did continue down the road I’m happy to say. Although I don’t play guitar I am passionate about music and sing every chance I get. My daughters are talented as well. 1 beginning piano player and 1 little songbird as well :) Thank you for your kindness. I’d love to talk to more people who knew him.

  • I found two copies of “Grassroots Guitar” a few years back at Roy’s Record Shop in Maryville, Tennessee, just days before they closed down for good. Everything was dirt cheap, and I bought these having never heard them before. I reckon I was just drawn in by the presentation…and then was amazed when I got home and put the record on. Never have met anyone who knew anything about him; thanks for the stories.

  • In 1985 I was living in a trailer in Clemson, SC, when I heard in the radio, very late in the night, some songs from the ‘Wind in the Heather’ album. After that time and also when three years latter when I came back to USA and had the opportunity to go to California, I unsuccessfully tried to find any record by G. Cromarty.

    Already in Brazil, one of my best friends at that time (whom now leaves in New Mexico) was traveling to USA and kindly asked me how I would like to be gifted by receiving a souvenir. I asked for a record by Cromarty. He could not find any, but brought me ‘Wind in the Heather’ in a K-7 tape. Since then, as the time went to erode that antique media and my technological resources gradually proven to be useless, I was looking for the equivalent vinyl, as well as any useful information about GC and the finest work he accomplish.

    Then the internet came on 90’s – as a sun to resuscitate old desires – and I could hardly and finally import from old USA’s nostalgic people, the album Wind in the Heather. Latter on (for the sake of this site’s info), I could buy also ‘Grassroots Guitar’. I may confess that I found that Cromarty’s soul ought to be contaminated anyhow by some Brazilian special guitar touch – or, at least, he’s embedded by tropical night’s inspirations. His sensibility was ‘amazingly awesome’.

    By the way, I would appreciate to have also ‘The Only One’. Regarding the media advances and the special attention from Cromarty’s daughter, I realize that all his work could be re-launched anyhow. I know that means a common felling of all those that read this blog.

  • I am Simone’s older brother, Michael. There was a funny little picture of me on the back of one of the albums, I think it was “The Only One”. I think I still have all the albums, but haven’t been able to lay hands on them at my mother’s house.
    I lost touch with Simone after a correspondence of a year or so around the time of our father’s death.
    I haven’t read all the comments here, but will.
    I have always had a great love of music and it may be attributed to summers with George in Santa Cruz or on his houseboat in (I think) San Louis Obispo (I swear to this day I saw a shark fin and dropped the coffee pot into the bay). He had many very creative moments. Perhaps the drive to make music skipped a generation as my son plays strings and is in the local choir.

  • I am going to try to get in touch with George Winston and see if he can get anything going in the way of transforming digital versions of all Georges Songs. He already did one in the new CD WAYFARING STRANGERS. He features a song my dad plays called “FLIGHT”. It features a style of guitar playing called harmonics and is very light and airy. I love to listen to it while I drive lol. Anyway, I’ll post when I learn anything from GW. Thanks everyone, Happy New Year! :)

  • I lived in the Santa Cruz Mts in the 1970’s. I heard George play at several small restaurants, in Felton, Boulder Creek and in Santa Cruz. He was the most amazing player, that I had ever heard and recently have been looking for his music. How did he die? He had some type of mental disorder, I believe. He once just went into a strangers house and scared the inhabitants, talking crazy. If I remember right, he was arrested. I once was the only one sitting and listening to him in a small cafe in Felton, and he was speaking to me, but it was so soft that I couldn’t hear what he was saying. I asked him to repeat, but it still wasn’t any louder. So I just pretended that I could hear what he was saying. But the music was so amazing that I was in a trance. His sensitivity was beyond this world.

  • Am at this moment digitally converting the “Grassroots Guitar” using a rather cheap USB turntable hooked up to my laptop. The output files are 4800 kHz, no dithering. Bought the album many years ago and waited until now to play it. Will do the same with my “Wind in the Heather” album.

    If anyone is interested, I will try to see how I can send the resulting digital audio files to those interest — IF that is OK with George Cromarty’s heirs/family and George Winston’s company. Perhaps I can post them somewhere where people can download them. GC’s talent certainly deserves to be shared with those who have the sensibilities to appreciate what his music offers.

    I would VERY much be interested in obtaining a copy of “The Only One,” which I’d be happy to convert to digital files.

    If anyone knows when/where it’s possible to obtain a copy of “officially” released digital versions of his music, please let me know. I’d be grateful to get a professional transfer of his music.

  • Hello to all here! I was born and raised in the town that George Cromarty lived in when he recorded Grassroots Guitar. I am currently beginning a journey out into the world with my own solo guitar work. D– I would greatly appreciate a copy of grassroots guitar regardless of compression quality. You can reach me at

  • I learned to play fingerstyle guitar in Italy in the ’80s. Cromarty was featured (and raved about) in a beautiful italian book called ‘American Guitar’ by Maurizio Angeletti. There is a transcription there of See Canyon, one of the first pieces I learned to play and still one of the most beautiful.

    After moving to the US I was able to get hold of LP copies of Grassroots Guitar and Wind in the Heathers. WYEP in Pittsburgh was dumping Grassroots Guitar (their shame my luck). I walked into Jerry’s too late for The Only One, evidently.

    I studied and played acoustic american guitar for almost thirthy years now. There are hundreds of guitarist in this genre, many missing the point altogether. Cromarty remains one of the most creative, unique and deep among them. His music is on par with the greatest guitar composers: Fahey, Barrios, those guys.

    Thanks to Simone amd Micheal for sharing notes with everyone.

    I would love a chance to hear the original See Canyon.

  • i’ve had this song in my head for a couple weeks. i had learned it note for note a long time ago. finally pulled out the old guitar today, figured out the tuning and remembered most of it.

    but i hadnt been able to remember the title or who’s it was. George Cromarty finally came to me an hour ago. so i went to my old record collection and there it is. a pristine copy of ‘wind in the heather’.

    i bought all windham hill albums when first released back then. i played my records only once, to tape on audiophile gear, so its like new.

    so now i’ve got to set up an old technics SL1300/ADC XLM MkII and burn a cd. still dont know the name of the song at this point, but i’ll probably remember all of them when i play the record. thanks to Michael & Simone

  • Hi! Just found your site. I too have been searching for years for other LPs by George beyond Wind In The Heather. Welcome any help getting recordings! Please contact me. His work is the best!!! ;)

  • Hello, I’ve known George in the eighties through the book “American Guitar” written by the italian guitarist, cellist and composer Maurizio Angeletti (also available as digital book in his site even if issued in italian language..). There I read some useful infos about George open tunings as well.
    Then I found first in Italy in 199.. ?!? (don’t remember exactly the year) a copy of Wind in the heather and some years ago a used copy of Grassroots guitar. Even if I consider grassroots a wonderful work for esoteric of guitar I prefer much more Wind in the heather that is to me more joyful, peaceful and at the same time well focused in the acoustic instrumental new age style. I got the impression it probably reflects the mood and the musical spirit of George ( simone and michael). For both recordings I’ve also tried to rip them to digital in order to listen them more often and the result is fair. However I’d surely love if they are reissued on cd. I’ve also transcribed a couple of tunes from Wind in the heather and they are a pleasure to play them sometimes.

  • I am sorry to hear the George Cromarty os no longer with us, although I had suspected as much. My first attempt at transcribing one of his albums via turntable and RCA to mini jack was less than satisfactory. I would love to obtain mp3s of Grassroots and Wind. I’m not surprised Winston has rights. Any news would be welcome.

    My wife and I discovered Cromarty in the late 70s, early 80s. We are UCSC alums from the late 70s.

  • My wife just reminded me, we heard GC, best as we can remember, in a crepe restaurant in Felton in 78 or 79.

  • I haven’t been able to listen to my vinyl copy of Wind in the Heather since getting rid of my turntable 20 years ago. If “D” (on March 1, 2009) or anybody else has success in converting that album or Grassroots Guitar to digital, please let us know how to contact you. Thank you.

  • I am the mother of George’s youngest daughter, Katja. George and I were together for almost 6yrs. In that time he recorded many new pieces, however he never put them into album format.

    When he left his body, he also left me the rights to all of his music and other worldly possessions.

    A couple of years ago Numero asked permission to re issue a single track off of Grassroots Guitar, Flight.

    The album is called Wayfaring Strangers. There will be another Album coming by the same Label with a copy of Little Children,( without voice).

    I am currently in the process of re issuing the albums Grassroots, and Wind in the Heather. As I said there was much music. I am struggling with the learning curve of compiling, editing etc…

    I will let you all know when and where these albums will be available.

    Thank you for the appreciation of George’s great talent. He would have been grateful.

    thank you ,

    Kathryn Barile,

  • Thank you Kathryn. I would very much be interested.

  • I recently found myself drawn to his music when I had purchased the “Wayfaring Strangers” compilation from iTunes and then the two-record set of same title at Amoeba (with two extra tracks). For the record, George Cromarty committed suicide on February 12, 1992. He was 50. I myself want to find his music on whatever medium, be it vinyl or mp3. And yes, “Little Children” was a wonderful song.

  • I have been playing classical guitar now for 30 yrs and first heard Wind in the Heather back in the eighty’s. I love George’s playing and can’t believe he isn’t better known. Does anyone know if it is possible to get hold of sheet music for Flight or Wind in the Heather?

  • George’s “Wind in the Heather” has been a comforting and uplifting presence in my life nearly every time that I’ve gone on a long journey, since taping the LP 20+ years ago.

    To this day, there isn’t another piece of music that I would rather have with me, wherever I go in the world. His music is so soothing and reassuring, so gentle, and present. His touch on the strings is so subtle. I can’t compare him to any other guitarist – no one can move me like he does. His sensitivity is out of this world.

    Kathryn, I hope that you’ll succeed in your efforts to make his music available. I would love to have a chance to buy digital CDs or mp3s of Wind in the Heather and Grassroots Guitar, and The Only One, the latter of which which I have never heard.

    It’s wonderful to hear that he also recorded many new & unreleased pieces. I especially hope that you will be able to find a way to digitize them and make them available. I’d imagine that there must be some audiophiles or music foundations or even folk radio station DJs who could assist with this with information or suggestions.

    To me, George Cromarty is still very much alive, in his music, and just knowing that I can return to that quiet and special place is itself comforting and inspiring.

  • to Kathryn a thank you for your effort of reissuing especially in case you want to recovery “The Only one” album that is really impossible to find; I agree it’s the best thing to let people know George’s music and to give him back the rightful honour he deserves. As I wrote before I had also tried to rip Wind in the Heather and Grassroots guitar LPs to digital but the result is not very good…
    (to Richard) Many years ago, when i played guitar I have transcribed some pieces from Wind in the Heather in tab form (even if not on a computer tab editor yet…..but I will probably do it)….so..

  • Hi Alberto (Italy),
    Congratulations on being able to transcribe some of Georges music. I’m not at that level yet but did have a go at the intro to flight.
    Any tabs that you or anyone has of Georges’ pieces’ would be greatly appreciated.Especially Flight or Wind in the heather.I can’t find any tabs on the net.
    Also, are there any mp3’s of george’s music available.
    Thanking everyone in advance,
    Richard (Australia)

  • Hello Kathryn,
    I have many wonderful memories of you and your family . Your niece Al and I were (and are again) great friends in high school back in the late 80’s. I’m glad I found this site and to see your name here is a wonderful bonus. I have always wanted to tell you what a positive roll model you were to me in those years. You, George and Al were all such an inspiration for my life and how I wanted to live it. You opened up my mind and heart to a wonderful way of life, filled with magic and love. I was sad to hear that George had gone and that he had lived with some pain. I remember some odd goings on but it never dampened my fond memories of you all.
    Blessings to you and may all of your kindnesses be returned to you and your family 1000 fold. :-)
    Love, Mika

  • Hi,

    I met George and Ed Rush at MPC in 1959 and was one of the original Goldcoast Singers which was formed there. It was one of the formative years of my life, and we had lots of very good times at the Judge’s house in Pacific Grove. We stayed in contact, until about the time of his first marriage and the birth of Michael then lost contact. If any of his childen are interested, I have lots of his old letters (mainly from when he was on the road with Ed) and some pictures. I also finally tracked down what must be the last “buyable” copy of The Goldcoast Singers.

  • To all who know George’s music I add my own sorrow that he’s not grey-haired and happily making his music. I heard him play several times in 74. I was hoping this site would reconnect me to the source of good memories. Kathryn please let me know when you have rerecorded George’s music. still humming Al

  • I picked up a copy of The Only One earlier today at a garage sale. I always look up my rare records to find out more about them (and to see how much they’re worth) but was surprised when I couldn’t find any info about it. What a great find. It is a really beautiful album. I almost feel as if I should record it to mp3 for the rest of you who haven’t heard it to get a chance to listen to it.

  • Hello all, I thought I was the only person in the world who had a copy of ‘Grassroots Guitar’! It’s great to hear such positive things about George’s playing and writing from so many people; and the best of luck Kathryn, with your endeavours of getting the music re-released. Although my own guitar music doesn’t sound much like George’s, his inspiration and the clarity of his expression have been constant companions since the early 1970s. Best to you all, Ian

  • Hello Dave (posted on July 8, 2009),
    I can be reached at d underscore rathjens ATsign yahoo DOT com .

  • I’m a classical guitarist and composer. Around 1985 a friend of mine introduced me to Wind in the Heather on vinyl. It had an immediate effect on me and frankly, there are few compositions throughout the world of music that have made an imprint on mind like the 13 tracks on this album.

    Even now 25 years later I wake up often, like this Saturday morning, with a couple of those beautiful melodies running through my head. The music is not really complicated. I’ve never found the sheet music to any of it, but I’ve learned to play a couple of the pieces by ear. In fact, I think nearly every piece on that album is in the guitar-friendly key of D. That just kind of adds to the mystery and ineffable magic of the music for me. Melody, harmony and rhythm: you don’t have to get fancy and have a PhD in music theory and toy with fancy key changes and modalities to create great music.

    There is so much in those compositions and in the playing as well, it’s really a shame that George did not go on to develop his art further. Yet even with his limited output, certainly he deserves to be better known and his music available for others to discover.

    I finally found my old cassette of Wind in the Heather and transferred it to digital tracks a couple of years ago. Today I finally found a track listing through a web search so I can name the music files correctly. So very much wish I could get pristine copies of all of George’s music. I believe there was a sheet music book as well at some point. It would be wonderful to have all of this available as a digital re-issue. In our digital age there is no reason for anything to remain ‘out of print’. Certainly not music of this quality.

    At any rate, I just wanted to leave my little tribute to George Cromarty and his music. To Katherine Barile, I wish you the best and look forward to having this music available again. I’ve never even heard Grassroots and would love to discover that as well.

  • I would be forever indebted to anyone who could get a digital copy of George’s music. I met him at Ethelred’s in SLO in the early 70’s. Bought Grassroots Guitar from him and it remains one of my favorites. I refrain from playing the LP for fear of wear and tear. I remember him telling me he was a Fresno High School alumni. Kathryn, put me on a list if you are suceessful in digitizing and rereleasing,

  • Again I’ve found music that I was raised with. Reading through the posts here it all fits together. My mom and dad went on a trip to SLO in the 70’s before I was born. They bought these records from “this local guy.” I have listened to them all my life. My dad has Grassroots Guitar, and my Mom has another LP that I cant remember the name of. But the songs will always be part of my life.

    Music touches us all, and it passes through generations. Here they bought the vinyl up there in the 70’s. My sisters and I all know the music and now my 2 yr old niece has a new favorite CD that Grandpa made for her. (Grassroots Guitar)

    I’m glad to see that there is this interest. And though you might not believe, Im sitting with a paper next to me of lyrics, I listened to and wrote down. I forget the title of the song, but

    “We all need a good home where we can live. And we’ve got to look around, until a good home can be found…..”

    If you play piano / guitar
    E A B C#m… it’s really simple. There is and F# note in there and a G note as well, but great song nonetheless.

    So glad to have found this page.

  • I’d love to hear that “Grassroots Guitar” is available once again. I obtained my copy of the lp from Rounder Records, who were a lifeline for me through the 70’s. I never got tired of listening to it because of the artist’s harmonic clarity. Each of the tracks just sounded so ‘right’. When a nephew needed help and had a buyer for vinyl records, I let it slip away with many other treasures. As years passed, I would periodically search for it on the GEMM site. The only results were for vinyl of varying condition.
    I would sure welcome a chance to fill that void in my CD collection, so then I could focus on obtaining Colwell-Winfield Blues Band’s “Cold Wind Blues”.

  • I don’t know why I am thinking so much about George lately. I knew him mid to late 70s in San Luis Obispo. He was renting a house there at the time. I used to go to a little spot by a creek where he would play and sit and listen to him for hours. After a while, he began to talk with me and I found him very interesting. He was the only person I knew who could speak complete sentences backwards, not that it made any sense, but that was his point. He was so complicated that he could translate English and speak it, backwards, indicating where his mind was in the universe. I am happy for YouTube, as I get to hear a few songs from that happy time. I, too, noted the other side of George and I could sense that his end could be coming, so I gave him a rare black wooden necklace/cross from my childhood, a gift from Jerusalem–hoping it would bring him some peace that he needed; I hope that one of his children has it. I always felt I left, running and not turning back. Either I did not understand his last sentence to me or I understood it too clearly and left the scene PDQ. In any event, he did touch me with his sensitivity and honesty. I think, at times, he just rambled on to see what affect it would have on people. I’ve just been having these flashbacks lately. hmmm…

  • My contact info is: bisbeelady at Hotmail dot com

  • My email has changed, In case anyone wants to contact me with information regarding George Cromarty. I’ve put together a Facebook page for him and you can post tribute there to him, photos, or thoughts to help keep his memory alive.
    Email me photos/letters/stories if you have them as well. Anything would be appreciated.
    Thank you! ♥

  • Hi, my name is Maurizio, I live in Milan. I have both L.P. of George Cromarty and they are among the best of my collection. The guitar of this incredible musician arrive deep in my heart and I’ll never forget him…if in the future will be news from him ( new songs unreleased available, the albums in Mp3 format and so on please contact me ! Thanks all !!!

  • I once had an LP collection 6,000 strong. Tired of dragging them all over the coutnry so I sold them. All but 100. “Grassroots Guitar” by George Cromarty was one of the first I decided to keep.

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