Ira Stone (Musician)

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Ira Stone
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BornApril 10, 1948

Life and career

Early Years — Stone was born in Queens, New York, and grew up in Westbury, Long Island. He started playing piano at four, studied at the Turtle Bay Music School in NYC, and first picked up a guitar in 1959. Stone joined Jon and Jeff Geist, and Jeff Portney, to form The Fortunes, backing up the star acts for WMCA “Good Guys” shows in the early-to-mid-1960s. That high school band morphed into The Last Word, and a recording contract on Boom Records led to a single: “Hot Summer Days,” distributed by ABC Paramount.

Mid-’60s through Woodstock — Stone played guitar in many house bands, including one with John Lewis Parker, who would become the Grammy-winning producer and writer for Keb Mo. While in another band, Stonehenge Circus, he played in NYC and at Long Island venues including the infamous Action House, in Island Park, New York. There he met Leslie West of The Vagrants,[1] whom he considered a mentor and would later collaborate with (The Great Fatsby album). He also played in the road band for The Music Explosion (Little Bit O' Soul|“Little Bit O’ Soul”). Stone met his future wife and music partner Maxine in 1967 while at Hofstra University [2]In early 1969, he answered an ad in The Village Voice placed by singer-songwriter Bert Sommer,[3] who was preparing to tour for his Capitol Records debut album The Road to Travel. Their first live gig was Woodstock.[4] "Me and my wife Maxine went up the night before and stayed in a hotel,” recalls Stone, one of two of Sommer’s musicians who got stuck in the infamous traffic jam on the way to Woodstock. “We had no idea,” he says. “I thought it was going to be a music and art stand with people selling their wares.” A helicopter was sent to get them over the hill in time for the set.[5] Along with bass player Charlie Bilello, they performed a 10-song set on Friday, August 15, 1969, that started at 7:15PM and lasted around 40 minutes. Stone recorded the whole set on a portable tape recorder (Sony TV-55) for his own keepsake, which became the definitive aural document until 2019.[6] Life (magazine)|Life Magazine Special Edition Woodstock featured Maxine Stone in a Bedouin wedding dress, but Bert Sommer and Ira Stone were cropped out.[7]

1970 - 1995 — Stone continued to accompany Bert Sommer after Woodstock, performing at Greenwich Village’s The Bitter End, the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, NY, and Carnegie Hall. In 1970 Stone played guitar and harmonica on the road with Chad Mitchell, and also started writing and performing with Maxine. The married duo traveled and played internationally in the early 1970s. In 1975, the Stones moved from NYC to Connecticut after the release of their first album, Max and I (distributed by Roulette Records), which included Leslie West and Corky Laing from Mountain (band)|Mountain, and Adam Ippolito, Gary Van Scyok, and Bruce Stewart from Plastic Ono Band|Plastic Ono Elephant's Memory|Elephant’s Memory Band. That same year, the Stones wrote “To Be Alive” recorded by Dana Valery on her self-titled album. Through the end of the 1970s they performed as a duo in New York and Connecticut—with songwriter Maxine on vocals and guitar—then formed a rock & roll band with Alex Wood on bass, Ian Michael McCleery on drums, and Austin “Tad” McClain (sound and guitar tech). In the early 1980s the Stones reconfigured into the band Max, with Tyger MacNeil on drums, Ron Rifken on keyboards, Mark Epstein on bass, and Paul Byrne on guitar. They continued to write songs and perform locally and in New York City. [2]

Woodstock continued to both shadow and illuminate their lives, and in 1989 Ira and Max were interviewed on ABC-TV news show 20/20 (American TV program)|20/20 by Lynn Sherr[8] for the 20th anniversary of Woodstock. They again were featured in Life Magazine’s Special Edition Woodstock 20th Anniversary issue, dressed in their original Woodstock garb.[9]

1995 - 2019 —The Stones formed Stoneband, with Chris Pike on drums and Rob Fried on bass. Keyboard players have included T Bone Stone, Roy Rodriguez, Ed Train, and Gregg Detroy; along with Joe Meo on sax and flute, and Pierre Guertin on sax. In 2009, Woodstock 40 Years On: Back To Yasgur's Farm was released by Rhino Entertainment|Rhino Records with three songs (Jennifer, And When It’s Over, Smile) from Bert Sommer’s set.

Woodstock 50th anniversary —The 2019 release of Woodstock – Back to the Garden: The Definitive 50th Anniversary Archive|Woodstock—Back To The Garden archived the entire 10-song Bert Sommer set, within the 38-CDs meticulously restored and produced by Grammy-nominated music historian Andy Zax. “Whenever somebody asks me who was the great, lost Woodstock performer, what is the great, lost Woodstock set, invariably I tell people: Bert Sommer, Bert Sommer, Bert Sommer.” [10]

Also noted in 50 Years: The Story of Woodstock Live by Julien Bitoun/Foreword by Michael Lang (producer)|Michael Lang - 2019 : “The group that played with him was reduced to the bare minimum, lacking even a drummer. The bass player, Charlie Bilello, provided a well-grounded, solid foundation, while Ira Stone embellished the songs with discreet, jazzy notes. He was one of those accompanists who had the gift of making a song better without taking all the credit. However, history has largely forgotten him—as it has Bert Sommer. Sommer was not included either in the movie or the record made of the festival, and consequently, did not benefit from the exposure that these would have provided.” [11]

As a duo, Ira and Maxine Stone were part of WNET-Thirteen’s Woodstock 50th-anniversary promotion. They played many Woodstock-anniversary events, including the Terrace Stage at Bethel Woods (with Joe Meo on sax and flute), opening for the The Doobie Brothers|Doobie Brothers and Santana (band)|Santana on August 17, 2019. Inside the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, on permanent display, is the Bedouin jacket Stone wore at the original performance.[12] 2020 — Ira and Maxine Stone live in Connecticut and New York City. They have two grown children, Justin and Lyndsay. Lyndsay Stone is a singer-songwriter and guitarist living and performing in California. Her first CD Feather was released June 2019, with her parents contributing harmony and instrumentation. The Stones continue to perform songs of the Woodstock era and especially of Bert Sommer, as well as write and perform new material relevant to the present times, from the coronavirus pandemic to the human condition in general. [13]


Max and I (Western Hemisphere Records, 1975)

Stoneband (Redding Glen Records, 2001)

On other releases

Bert Sommer (“The People Will Come Together,” Buddah, 1971)

The Great Fatsby (“If I Still Had You,” and “High Roller,” Phantom/RCA, 1975)

Dana Valery (“To Be Alive,” Phantom/RCA, 1975)

Woodstock 40 Years On: Back To Yasgur's Farm (Bert Sommer, Tracks 6-8, Rhino, 2009)

Outlet (“Fold Up Your Heart,” “As Soon As I Can,” and “Ships In the Night,” Viper Records, 2011)

Woodstock - Back to the Garden (Bert Sommer 10-song set, Rhino, 2019)

Feather - (”Don’t Have to Try,” Lyndsay Stone Music, 2019)


  1. Watts, Sharon (August 20, 2019). "We're All Playing In the Same Band". Shindig. 94: 44–48.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Adler, Chris (August 2–3, 1989). "Redding's Stones - Memories of Woodstock (cover story)". Ridgefield Press Weekend Magazine.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: date format (link)
  3. Perritano, John (August 13, 1989). "The View From The Stage". The News-Times. (Danbury).
  4. Evans, Mike, Kingsbury, Paul — foreword by Martin Scorsese (2009). Woodstock: Three Days That Rocked The World. Sterling Publishing. pp. 82, 83. ISBN 1402780346.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  5. Bradner, Liesl (August 12, 2019). "He Got a Standing Ovation at Woodstock—and Then. . ". Time Magazine.
  6. Harkins, Thomas Edward (2019). Woodstock FAQ. Backbeat Books. p. 28. ISBN 978-1-61713-666-5.
  7. "Special Edition Woodstock". Life Magazine. 1969.
  8. Sherr, Lynn (August 4, 1989). "20/20". ABC News.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  9. "Where Are They Now?". Life Magazine. Special Edition Woodstock. 1989.
  10. "Rhino — Woodstock - Back to the Garden". August 24, 2019.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  11. Bitoun, Julien (2019). 50 Years—The Story of Woodstock Live. Cassell Publishing. p. 32. ISBN 1788400747.
  12. "Bethel Woods Center for the Arts". 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  13. Passey, Charles (August 15, 2019). "They Played on the Main Stage at Woodstock 50 Years Ago—No, Really!". Wall Street Journal.


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This article "Ira Stone (Musician)" is from Wikipedia. The list of its authors can be seen in its historical. Articles taken from Draft Namespace on Wikipedia could be accessed on Wikipedia's Draft Namespace. The Stone Band Website Bert Sommer Website