Tuli Kupferberg, vocalist for the good-naturedly scabrous Greenwich Village folk band the Fugs, died Monday in New York. He was 86.
Kupferberg’s longtime collaborator Ed Sanders told the New York Times that the poet-musician had been in failing health after suffering two strokes in 2009.
Both Sanders and Kupferberg were known principally as writers when they founded the Fugs in 1964, taking their name from the euphemistic epithet forced on Norman Mailer by the publisher of “The Naked and the Dead.”
Their first album, released under the name the Village Fugs, was issued by Moses Asch’s Folkways Records and produced by Harry Smith, the downtown artist and creator of “The Anthology of American Folk Music.”
After issuing two more albums for the left-field ESP-Disc label encompassing everything from a celebration of group sex to anti-war screeds and a musical adaptation of Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl,” the Fugs recorded four albums for Warner Bros.’ Reprise imprint that were as unpredictable as they were unsuccessful commercially.
The band reunited sporadically from the ’80s on, and issued “Be Free: The Fugs Final CD (Part 2)” earlier this year.
Kupferberg is survived by his wife, Sylvia Topp, and three children.