Summers in Lake George, NY are warm and humid, while the water stays pretty chilly. They are full of music and history, where tourists and locals alike mingle at the beach and in restaurants. But summers in the mid-1960s had something else: folksinger Tedd Browne.
Tedd Browne was playing in a coffee shop in New York City, when he met Lake George businesswoman, Shirley Caple. The owner of the Cosmic Coffee House on Ottawa Street, she enticed Browne to come north to sing for two weeks in July 1963 at her establishment. He played nightly, and even performed a children’s show on a summer Saturday evening. As you can see below, he was billed as “Cleveland’s Best” so, he was probably living in Cleveland, OH at the time.
Browne was so enamored of the region that he moved to Lake George for a time. While he was here he researched local history and wrote the songs that would be featured on his 1964 album Lake George: Musical Portrait (which was reissued in 2007 & is available on major streaming platforms). One of my favorite songs on the album is “Lake George Steamboats”. Browne’s rich baritone resonates especially well in this blues structured song. Plus its got a great bass part played on the album by Bill Lee (father of filmmaker Spike Lee).
The Lake George: Musical Portrait album was such a hit that is sparked an summer folk music festival in which Browne and other musicians were featured. Browne had his own local fan club, and a group of students convened to learn to play guitar and sing his songs. He even performed at a fundraiser for Glens Falls High School PTA in November 1964.
We will never know if Tedd Browne’s love affair with Lake George would continue. He was murdered in July 1968 while stopped at a traffic light in Cleveland Heights, OH in what was deemed a hate crime due to the assailant carving an “N” on the bullet. Richard Robbins received a life sentence for the murder of Browne, but after turning state’s evidence on two other criminals, he was given a reduced sentence.
Billboard reported Browne’s obituary in the August 10, 1968 issue. He was survived by his wife Inez and their three children.
For a bit more on Tedd Browne, view the mini documentary below. It is part of a series called Lake George on the Water directed by filmmaker Hannah DeGarmo and produced by the Folklife Center at Crandall Public Library, Glens Falls, NY, 2019.
“Browne Is Slain; Violence Victim.” Billboard, August 10, 1968.
Lake George On the Water: Tedd Browne. YouTube. Folklife Center at Crandall Public Library, 2019. https://youtu.be/FnrW1AJ5xTc.
Morton, Marian J. Cleveland Heights. Charleston, SC: Arcadia, 2005.
Shaffer, Cory. “Irish Gangsters Convicted in 1969 Contract-Killing of Euclid Judge's Wife Lose Appeal as Parole Decision Looms.” cleveland.com, May 14, 2018. https://www.cleveland.com/court-justice/2018/05/irish_gangsters_convicted_in_1.html.
Tedd Browne. Lake George Musical Portrait. Vinyl recording. Lake George, NY: Garnet Records, 1964.
I also consulted the biographical vertical files held in the Folklife Center at Crandall Public Library.
Tisha Dolton is Librarian/Historian at The Folklife Center at Crandall Public Library in Glens Falls, NY. Her areas of interest are suffrage music, suffragists of Warren and Washington Counties, local women and minority populations, and embroidery.