John Sebastian, the former lead singer and founder of The Lovin’ Spoonful, considers himself lucky.
Lucky to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Songwriter’s Hall of Fame. Lucky to have never suffered a career-ending injury or incident. Lucky to still be performing after more than 50 years.
“I’m so glad to be in this world,” Sebastian said. “I’ve long passed several of my contemporaries. I’m just a lucky guy.”
Sebastian, 74, is performing solo Sept. 8 at the Historic Everett Theatre. He’ll play the folk-rock band’s biggest hits, including “Do You Believe In Magic,” and top songs from his solo career such as the No. 1 blues rock hit from 1976, “Welcome Back.”
“All an audience has to do is put away their cellphones and react to what’s on the stage, and I’m in heaven,” Sebastian said.
Sebastian, a New York native, lives about an hour and a half away from where the Woodstock Festival was held in 1969. It was at that festival that he played an impromptu acoustic set after San Francisco Latin rock band Santana.
When he’s not playing gigs, Sebastian leads a quiet life — he likes to go on walks with his dogs and spend time with his grandchildren.
Music is in Sebastian’s family. His father, also named John, was considered a master of the classical harmonica.
The younger Sebastian also played the harmonica, but was more interested in blues.
Through his father, he met and played with blues musicians Sonny Terry and Lightnin’ Hopkins, who later influenced his folk-rock style on the guitar.
Fame found him in the mid-1960s as the lead singer and founder of The Lovin’ Spoonful. His time with the folk-rock band was brief but impactful.
The Lovin’ Spoonful was considered one of the few American bands to rival overseas acts like The Beatles, The Kinks and The Rolling Stones during the British Invasion, a time when bands from the United Kingdom captivated the U.S.
Though a folk-rock band, The Lovin’ Spoonful mixed in blues, country and jug sounds. Sebastian said their influences included Antoine “Fats” Domino Jr., Huey “Piano” Smith and Buck Owens.
Some consider Lovin’ Spoonful’s contributions a “counter-revolution,” but Sebastian isn’t too sure about that.
“The things that interested us were maybe a little different to some of the current acts at that time,” Sebastian said. “I don’t know if we created a revolution. Maybe we were just standing in the way of progress — maybe in a good way.”
The Lovin’ Spoonful split up in 1968, so Sebastian relied on a solo career to pay the bills.
Over the past 50 years, he’s performed on his own or with a backing band. He plays the acoustic and electric guitar, has composed music and lyrics for Broadway, film and television, and was a session musician for The Doors, Crosby Stills and Nash & Young.
He even wrote the children’s book “J.B.’s Harmonica” in 1993. It’s about a bear whose musical aspirations are overshadowed by his father’s fame as a harmonica player — sound familiar?
The popularity of Sebastian’s songs has endured for decades. Johnny Cash covered his “Darlin’ Companion,” and Elvis Costello did a cover of “The Room Nobody Lives In.”
It surprises Sebastian when another artist wants to cover one of his songs.
He said he was never trying to do anything more than write hits that would stay on the Billboard charts for a few weeks.
“Anything that happened above that was crazy,” he said.
Evan Thompson: 360-544-2999, email@example.com. Twitter: @evanthompson_1.
This story has been modified to correct where Latin rock band Santana is from and when John Sebastian played at Woodstock.
OVERSET FOLLOWS:If you go
What: John Sebastian
Where: Historic Everett Theatre, 2911 Colby Ave., Everett
When: 8 p.m. Sept. 8
Tickets: starting at $32
More: 425-258-6766 or www.historiceveretttheatre.org