Tom Rapp, Voice of Pearls Before Swine, R.I.P.


Tom Rapp, founder of eclectic psychedelic folk band Pearls Before Swine in the 1960s and ’70s and civil rights lawyer, died of cancer on Sunday February 11, at his home in Melbourne, Florida. Rapp was 70.

As a teenager, Rapp finished third in a youth talent show in Rochester, Minnesota. Robert Zimmerman placed fifth. At the age of 19, Rapp sent a demo to ESP-Disk , who had signed the Fugs, and the label offered him a deal. Rapp recorded under the name Pearls Before Swine with his debut album in 1967, One Nation Underground, reportedly selling 200,000 copies. A second album, Balaklava, was released in 1968 and other albums followed. Offered a spot at Woodstock, Rapp turned it down due to a scheduling conflict.

Lyricist Bernie Taupin says that the song ‘Rocket Man,’ which he write with Elton john, was influenced by the Pearls Before Swine song of the same name.

Though he released a number of solo albums Rapp decided to leave the music business. His final show was as a support to Patti Smith in 1976. Rapp later became a civil rights lawyer in Philadelphia.

Brian Wise

Brian Wise was the Editor of Addicted To Noise‘s Australian site from 1997 – 2002. The site won two ONYA Awards as Best Online Music Magazine in 1999 & 2000. He has also been Editor since its reincarnation in 2013. He also presents the weekly music interview program Off The Record on 102.7 Triple R-FM ( in Melbourne. It is networked to 45+ stations across Australia on the Community Radio Network and is a four-time winner of the Best Music Program Award from the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia. In 2012, it was nominated as a finalist in the Excellence in Music Programming category. Brian was also the Founding Editor & Publisher of Rhythms Magazine and is now its Senior Contributing Editor.

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