Queer Music Heritage home
Back to start of Grossman Tribute

Steven Grossman

Background & Memories

and, below is a fairly concise summary of the basic information on
Steven Grossman, as presented by The Estate Project

NAME: Steven Grossman
9/1/51, Brooklyn, New York

June 23, 1991, San Francisco, California

Folk-rock Singer/Songwriter
Steven Grossman's only album, Caravan Tonight (1974), was hailed by Stephen
Holden in Rolling Stone as "one of the most auspicious singer/songwriter debuts
of the seventies." The record is widely regarded as a landmark because it was the
first recording for a major label by an openly gay artist to openly address the
concerns and sensibilities of gay life. Grossman's simple and heartfelt message
and persona stood out in sharp contrast to the hypersexual posturings of bigger
rock stars of the era.

"Steve isn't cute about his sexuality like David Bowie; nor does he see sexuality as
a spice for an innocent's view of decadence, as does Alice Cooper; nor does he
invent a never-never land to exploit as do the New York Dolls. Steve sings of a gay
world that is familiar to most of us." (William Lang, review in unidentified publication)

"His voice is great and his songs personal and beautiful. He is going to be the one
to bridge the gap between straight and gay audiences." (Vito Russo, Gay Magazine)

Steven Grossman died of AIDS in San Francisco on June 23, 1991.

Two months prior to Grossman's death, his lifelong friend Judith Casselberry,
of the group Casselberry-Dupree, persuaded Grossman to enter a recording studio
again. The resulting dozen tracks of original material remain unreleased. Casselberry
and musician/producer Richard Dworkin are adding new vocal and instrumental
arrangements in advance of a release on Significant Other Records.

—Joseph Dalton


Caravan Tonight - Mercury SRM-1-702 (1974)
All songs by Steven Grossman:
Caravan Tonight
Five O'Clock Song
Christopher's Blues
Song To Bonnie
Song To That M&M Man
You Don't Have To Be Ashamed
Many Kinds Of Love
Can't...Papa Blues
Circle Nine Times
Dry Dock Dreaming

Produced by Bobby Flax and Lanny Lambert
Steven Grossman, acoustic guitar and vocals - Vinny Fuccella, acoustic lead
and electric guitar - Andy Muson, bass - Jimmy Young, drums - Chris Dedrick,
keyboards and recorder - George Devens, congas and percussion - Eric Weissber,
mandolin, banjo, pedal steel guitar - Steven, Bobby, Lanny, and The Free Design,
background vocals. Horns and strings arranged and conducted by Chris Dedrick.
Recorded December 1973 and January 1974 at Sound Ideas Studios, New York.

Unreleased collection of original material:

In Defense Of Spring
California Now
Buena Vista
Mostly Like Children
Something In The Moonlight
Winter Story
Out To Play
Pearl Moon
Truce With The Moon
Last Pioneers
A Greasy Griddle And A Short Order Cook

Recorded May 1991 by Judith Casselberry. Release produced by Judith Casselberry
and Richard Dworkin, forthcoming on Significant Other Records.


"Deciphering Steven Grossman: For Gays Only?" by Stuart Byron, Boston Phoenix (?), April 3, 1974 (?).
"Grossman Offers Homosexual Songs," review by John Rockwell, New York Times, May 7, 1974.
"Coming Out Of the Closet" by John l. Wasserman, San Francisco Chronicle, May 24, 1974.
"Gay Minstrel Is Painfully Honest," Berkeley Barb, May 24-30, 1974.

Richard Dworkin
Significant Other Records
P.O. Box 1341 Old Chelsea Station
New York, NY 10113

Judith Casselberry

This page features all the photos and articles I have on Steven Grossman,
if you can supply me with any others I would much appreciate it.
Please email me at qmh@qmh101.com

I'm very pleased that my Steven Grossman Tribute page has inspired people who
knew or admired him to write in and share some memories of him. I welcome more.

Marc Schapp consented for
me to post what he wrote, and it eloquently evokes the spirit of a part of the gay
culture now lost. Please enjoy what Marc wrote:

I happened on your page about Steven today because I was hoping to
relive the past and perhaps find out where/how to recapture the music. I
don't have photos or tangible assets to share. But I do have memories
and the words to help evoke those elusive times for you.

I knew Steven in Brooklyn roundabout 1971, having been a Brooklynite
myself. I had just come out over the previous year or so and was now
living in a gay collective in the Boerum Hill. The house rule was that
we put everything we owned and all the income we came upon into the
collective treasury. My comrades were mostly veterans of GLF. We lived
in a 3 story brownstone with a storefront. So we had a teahouse we
opened two nights a week. It was a salon for the left/bohemian queer
set. One of our members had helped to form the Gay Revolutionary Party,
the organization that introduced the very characteristic star button.
(Designed by a guy who dubbed himself Spinstar.)

There was a really charming queer organization called Fraternitas
meeting in a church in Flatbush. From my experiences there I came to
meet the man who became the first lover I shared a home with. And I also
met his high school classmate, Steven Grossman. I loved it when I saw
him with a guitar and we all gathered around and sang our favorite
songs. I particularly remember Steven adopting Joni Mitchell's "A Case
Of You" and making it totally believable as if it came from his own
soul. (I only wish we had a surviving recording of that performance. Not
to be overdramatic, but there are times when I can stop and replay his
performance in my head.)

There were others who would gather around and sing. Music was a unifying
element. There was Jackie DuPre and her friend Jeannie. (Who also toured
the country in an early wave of queer musical performance.) And several
others who just loved to sing. (I would count myself in that category.)

My time in the collective lasted for no more than 5 or 6 months. I was
collecting unemployment insurance and the times were intense. Frank and
I moved in together a block from the collective. And then we moved
together to Staten Island. Ties to Brooklyn, Fraternitas and Steven
Grossman mostly faded.

A couple years came and went and I ran into Steven on a spooky pier in
The Village that deserves a bit more exploration from pre-AIDS memory.
But skipping over the exquisite details to keep the focus on Steven,
let's just point out that he and I "met." He invited me home to his
apartment and we reaquainted ourselves. There was a portrait of Steven
framed over the couch and I said something complimentary about it.
That's when he told me it was the cover of his new album-- on Mercury no
less. My jaw must have dropped. Not because I didn't think his talent
didn't merit such recognition. But because it had actually happened to
someone who could probe a bittersweet Joni Mitchell lyric persona and
wring emotion from experience and distill them into touching songs. This
was a talent rarely exposed through the mass media. And it was someone I
knew. (And considering the circumstances someone I now knew in the
biblical sense as well.)

I congratulated Steven on this success. And he reached into a corrugated
cubic box and pulled out my very own gatefold-wrapped copy of "Caravan

Recently I moved into much smaller quarters. After giving away hundreds
of albums, I had tried to save a couple of those cubic boxes of rare
vinyl treasures and Steven's was one of them. Unfortunately I couldn't
find a way to keep them. And so your web site is the last thread tying
me to that amazing past. A moment in time when The War raged, Nixon
ruled, the Panthers claimed their due, and we demanded the right to
flounce. Steven's voice was a part of the soundtrack for me. Alongside
Hendrix, Joplin, The Airplane and Dylan.

Marc Schnapp,
Copyright 2005

In Feb of 2006, Peter Weiss contributed these memories:

I was a college roommate of Stevens in 1970-71 at Marlboro College in Vermont.
We shared a room on the ground floor which was pretty large and it seemed
we always had extra people sleeping over. One of Stevens scholarship jobs
was to tour prospective students around the campus and I remember
coming home one night from the library to find ten or twelve high schoolers
camped out all over the floor. Steven had invited them to stay with us.
Our stereo system was always going. I grew up in the South and
brought my collection of Allan Lomax folk blues and Memphis soul music;
Steven brought his Elton John records and his beloved Nina Simone and
Laura Nyro discs. I remember a mahogany bodied guitar that
Steven owned. We both played a great deal, though Steven was just
beginning to write songs himself.

Steven and I had a friend, a delicate, funny girl whose name escapes me all
these years later, but the three of us had a nice game we played. On occasional
Friday afternoons we would meet up without any planning and agree to go,
that moment, as far away as we could for as much of the weekend as possible,
with just what we had on and what was in our pockets. One weekend we
hitched to Boston and manged to stay the whole three days on $21.00.
Another time we made it to New York where we visited Stevens parents in their
Brooklyn apartment.

Steven was a kind and talented man who enjoyed sharing his enthusiasms.
He had a good sense of humor, although the painful tenderness of his life was
immediately apparent. I remember when "Caravan Tonight" came out,
I felt relieved that he had been able to express so beautifully so much of what
had been unresolved in him just a few years before.

In June 2006 Joey Anatasio, emailed me these comments,
and consented to my sharing them

I came across your website about Steven Grossman.  Steven and I met somewhere
in NYC in 1971 or 1972 and dated for awhile.  We somehow thought ourselves
destined since we shared the same birthday - I believe one year apart -- me being older. 
We would go dancing at the "Fire House" on Mercer Street in NYC -
this was before "12 WEST" & "Paradise Garage"  - the first alternative to 
dingy, dark, alcohol laden gay bars I ever knew about.   He would go up to
the 3rd floor and sit at the piano and sing and have others sing along with him.

I was working as a teacher in a state institution for children with disabilities and
Steven came to work with me one day.  The children had a number of tough
behavioral issues, and we used a great deal of behavioral and structured
programming -- using lots of reinforcers and reinforcement therapy. I believe
this was the foundation/motivation for Steven's song
"Song to That M & M Man" on "Caravan Tonight".

I also have my copy -- given to me by Steven over 30 years ago.  It is one of
my prize possessions.  Do you know if there are any plans to transfer it to CD
for release?  I don't understand if people praise Steven as the first gay artist
signed to a major mainstream record label -- then why is this album
finding a hard time getting re-released. I saw Steven in 1990 the year before
he died.  We met for lunch -- I had to track him down.  I still live on the east coast and
he lived on the west coast.  It was great to see him, even if it was just for lunch.
Thank you for the web site tribute.

In September 2006 Stephen D. Jerome shared these comments:

I just wanted to thank you for your website on Steven Grossman.  I became
acquainted with Grossman's hauntingly moving music in the late 1970's when my
then lover played his album for me.  I quickly fell in love with it.  Being an amateur
singer, I learned several of the numbers and have performed them in various
(strictly amateur) settings. 
For years, I wondered what happened to Grossman.  This evening, I decided
to do a Google search.  I hoped that I would discover where he was and contact him,
letting him know that thirty years after his album, someone still loved his music.
It was there, this evening, that I found the websites and learned that Steven died. 
In fact, I just discovered it less that a half hour ago and I almost feel like crying. 
His music was so moving and beautiful.   He only recorded one album and
that was the only contact (for lack of a better term) that I had with him. 
Nevertheless, I was so touched by his songs and his performance that
I nonetheless feel a personal loss.

In July 2007, Paul Hansen agreed I could share his email:

I received a copy of Steven Grossman's "Caravan Tonight" as an accidental
substitution for some Stefan Grossman albums albums I ordered in the
Spring of 1974.  I quickly came to love many of the songs and learned four
of them.  As a professional musician I still perform "I Can't Do a thing without
You Papa Blues", "Song to Bonnie", and "You Don't Have to be Ashamed"
33 years later.  I played them just last night at a coffee house performance as
a matter of fact.  They are three of my most favorite songs.  I most often perform
them with the story of my "accidental" purchase as well as my love of the songs.
I had the original recordings on 8 track tape (which is long gone) and was
thrilled to find it on vinyl at a used record store this afternoon.  I had
googled Steven Grossman without success on several occasions
previously but hit on your site when I got home this evening.
I had long since wondered what had happened to this wonderful writer
and am saddened to hear that he had died some time ago.  I will once
again get to enjoy listening to his music, I will continue to perform his
songs and tell the story. While I am not gay, I will appreciate his
accomplishments as well. 
Thank you for your tribute, it has completed the story for me.

May 2009: Big thanks to Eileen Schwartz for sending
these comments and the photo (circa 1972-1973)

I just came across your web pages and was touched and pleased to see so
much interest in my old friend. I am Eileen Schwartz listed as friend on the
album "Caravan Tonight" credits. Steven was a long-time close friend and I was
honored to have shared time in the studio watching the recording process for
"Caravan." I learned alot about life and love from Steven and will never forget
his infectious laughter and magnetic persona. Thought i would share a photo
of myself Steven and Christopher Bergman on the NYC subway steps at
4 am after a performance by Steven at Gerdes Folk city. Many many years ago..

photo by Elizabeth Broman

Sadly, Christopher Bergman died in 2009.

In February 2010, Don Mitchell agreed I could share his email:

I have just encountered your Steven Grossman page. Thanks! I read
through it, learning more than I had even known.

As a gay man totally out aince my early 20s (now 67), I was delighted
when "Caravan Tonight" came out. I have treasured my copy ever since.
Recently putting my entire music collection into an iTunes library (on a
terabyte hard drive) - now nearly 160,000 songs. I have retained a
small collection of LPs and CDs that mean something special to me
(selling the rest to augment my social security) - and "Caravan Tonight"
is certainly one I retain.

I find it incredible that it never was released on CD - especially
during the hey-day of gay music. If the "new" album every surfaces
for the public; I hope I will hear about it. You could count on a definite sale.

Thanks again for the lovely web-site.

Don Mitchell, Los Angeles

May 2010, a delightful email from John Thiel

......my name is John Thiel and at the time I saw Steve perform I was the
president of Gay Activist Alliance of New Jersey. Myself and a few friends
went to The Firehouse on Mercer St in New York to an event they called
"Cabaret Night". This was in 1973 and at the time The Firehouse was the
headquarters for Gay Activist Alliance of New York and there was always some
kind of activity going on there. Steve was the 3rd or 4th performer that night
and when they introduced him as a gay folksinger, I remembered thinking
"what the hell is a gay folksinger.".....being a musician also and liking a lot
of folk music I was curious.......Steve opened up with the song "Out"......

about halfway through the song I remember realizing that I was not the
only person there with tears running down my face. I looked around
the table and my friends were also crying, and I slowly realized that most
of people in the audience were in tears also. When he finished the song there
was about 20-30 seconds of stunned silence before the audience gave
him a standing ovation. In all my years of playing music and of being in
an audience to listen to music I have never seen a reaction to a performer
like I did that night. I remember my excitement when a friend called several
months later to say Steve had an album out on Mercury Records. I immediately
went and bought a copy which over the years has gotten lost. So thank you
for this page, it was nice to find. Though I am saddened that this special
human being, like so many friends from that era, passed away way too soon.

November 2011

Elizabeth Broman, one of the friends mentioned in the LP liner notes,
contributed two photos and these comments:

"For most people who knew him, when I did in the early 70's, all you had to do
was mention his name and whatever he was up to now, and they just knew,
and said "say no more"... He had a magnetism you couldn't ignore, and
was a force. My greatest memories of that crazy time are of listening to him
sing at Gertie's Folk City, night after night, and sitting in his cave of a
bedroom and singing with him while he played guitar."

Above, left to right: Harold Gilstein, Steven Grossman, Eileen Schwartz, Austin Noto,
New York City, 1983 - photo by Elizabeth Broman

Elizabeth Broman, Steven Grossman, Chris Bergman. Brooklyn subway station, 1973


photo by Elizabeth Broman

Above, photo courtesy of Eileen Beirne; below, press photo
which became the cover photo for the 2011 CD

On to Page Four