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Loudon Wainwright III grew up in the town of Bedford in wealthy Westchester County north of New York City, the son of Loudon S. Wainwright Jr., a writer and editor at Life magazine and a direct descendant of colonial governor Peter Stuyvesant. Wainwright became a folk singer/songwriter in the late '60s, singing humorous and nakedly honest autobiographical songs. Signed to Atlantic Records, he recorded Album I (1970) and Album II (1971), accompanying himself on acoustic guitar, before switching to Columbia Records, for which he made the folk-rock Album III (1972), which featured the Top 40 novelty hit "Dead Skunk." Attempted Mustache (1973) and the half-live Unrequited (1975) did not continue that commercial success, though Wainwright's humor and engaging stage persona made him a cult figure and a concert favorite.
Meanwhile, his songs were recorded by others, notably Kate (his wife, later divorced, who died in 2010) and Anna McGarrigle, and Wainwright appeared in the off-Broadway show Pump Boys and Dinettes and played a featured role on the successful M*A*S*H television series. He moved to Arista Records for T Shirt (1976) and Final Exam (1978), on which he was backed by a rock band, but departed the major labels for a more appropriate home on the folk-based indie Rounder for A Live One (1980) and Fame and Wealth (1983).
Wainwright began to gain more notice in England than in the U.S., and he moved to London in 1985. I'm Alright (1985) and More Love Songs (1986) were co-produced by British singer/guitarist Richard Thompson. Therapy (1989) found Wainwright on the major-label-distributed Silvertone imprint and back living in the U.S., and he signed to Virgin Records' Charisma subsidiary for History (1992) and the live Career Moves (1993). Grown Man, his 15th album, was released in 1995, followed three years later by Little Ship. In 1999, there appeared a collection of topical, humorous songs Wainwright had been composing since the late '80s for National Public Radio, titled Social Studies; the following year, The BBC Sessions collected favorites and new compositions. The Last Man on Earth followed in 2001, and the live album So Damn Happy marked his debut for Sanctuary in 2003.
Another studio album, Here Come the Choppers, was released in 2005. It was followed by Strange Weirdos: Music from and Inspired by the Film Knocked Up in 2007 and by Recovery in 2008. In 2011, Shout! Factory issued a major career retrospective: a five-disc box set entitled 40 Odd Years that included album tracks, a complete CD of rare and unreleased material, and a 200-plus-minute DVD that included an hourlong documentary as well as dozens of performances. In 2009, Wainwright released High Wide & Handsome: The Charlie Poole Project. The set featured songs by the American folk and country icon, as well as new songs that helped move his odd legend forward. Older Than My Old Man Now appeared in 2012, a collection of 15 songs featuring contributions from all four of his children and two of his three wives, and includes a song co-written with late ex-wife, Kate McGarrigle.
Loudon Snowden Wainwright III (born September 5, 1946) is a Grammy Award-winning American songwriter, folk singer, humorist, and actor. He is the father of musicians Rufus Wainwright, Martha Wainwright and Lucy Wainwright Roche, brother of Sloan Wainwright, and the former husband of the late folk singer Kate McGarrigle.
To date, Wainwright has released 22 studio albums. Reflecting upon his career, in 1999, Wainwright stated "you could characterize the catalog as somewhat checkered, although I prefer to think of it as a tapestry."
Early life 
Wainwright was born in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, the son of Martha Taylor, a yoga teacher, and Loudon Wainwright, Jr., a columnist and editor for Life magazine. His father was not a professional musician but he did play piano and wrote some songs, exposing his children to musicians such as Tom Lehrer and Stan Freberg who were later cited as influences. Wainwright grew up in Bedford, New York, in Westchester County. Among his sisters is Sloan Wainwright, also a singer. He graduated from St. Andrew's School in Delaware. He is a descendant of Peter Stuyvesant, the last Director-General of New Netherland (present-day New York State).
Wainwright's career began in the late 1960s. He had played the guitar while in school but later sold it for yoga lessons while living in San Francisco. Later, in Rhode Island, Wainwright's grandmother got him a job working in a boatyard. An old lobsterman named Edgar inspired him to borrow a friend's guitar and write his first song, "Edgar". Wainwright soon bought his own guitar and in about a year wrote nearly twenty songs. He went to Boston and New York City to play in folk clubs and was eventually "discovered" by Milton Kramer, who became his manager. He acquired a record deal with Atlantic Records, who released his first album in 1970.
Wainwright is perhaps best known for the 1972 novelty song "Dead Skunk (in the Middle of the Road)" and for playing Captain Calvin Spalding (the "singing surgeon") on the American television show, M*A*S*H. His appearances spanned three episodes in its third season (1974–1975), including the episode "Rainbow Bridge".
Using a witty, self-mocking style, Wainwright has recorded over twenty albums on eleven different labels. Three of his albums have been nominated for Grammy Awards: I'm Alright (1985) and More Love Songs (1986). In January 2010, he won the Grammy for Best Traditional Folk Album for High Wide & Handsome: The Charlie Poole Project.
Wainwright has also appeared in a number of films, including small parts in The Aviator, Big Fish, Elizabethtown, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, and Knocked Up, and the television series Undeclared and Parks and Recreation. In the UK he recorded sessions for John Peel from 1971 onwards and appeared on a simultaneous broadcast on BBC TV and on Radio 1 in February 1978 (known as Sight and Sound in Concert). However, it was in the late 1980s that he gained much wider popularity in Britain when he appeared as the resident singer with comedian Jasper Carrott in his UK show, Carrott Confidential, and has remained popular in the UK ever since.
He appeared as a musical guest on Saturday Night Live in the first season's 5th episode, which was broadcast on November 15, 1975. He performed "Bicentennial" and "Unrequited to the Nth Degree" as a guest to Robert Klein.
Wainwright has claimed that, like many of his contemporaries, he was inspired musically by seeing Bob Dylan at the Newport Folk Festival in 1963. He was one of many young folksingers tagged as the "new Dylan" in the early 1970s, a fact that he later ruefully satirized in his song, "Talking New Bob Dylan", from History (1992).
Wainwright was also a judge for the 4th annual Independent Music Awards.
According to his own liner notes, Wainwright entered a period of deep depression following the death of his mother in 1997 and believed he could never write again. Retreating to his mother's cabin in the woods, he underwent therapy and gradually recovered, eventually recording the soul-baring Last Man on Earth in 2001. Since then his recording career has mostly returned to its previous frequency.
In September 2006, Wainwright and musician Joe Henry began composing the music to the Judd Apatow film, Knocked Up, which was released on June 1, 2007. In addition to composing the soundtrack, Wainwright appeared in the film in a supporting role as the protagonists' obstetrician. He has also composed music for the new theatre production of Carl Hiaasen's Lucky You, which premiered at the 2008 Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Wainwright released a new studio album, Older Than My Old Man Now, in April 2012.
Personal life 
Wainwright's first marriage was to singer/songwriter Kate McGarrigle. During their marriage, which ended in divorce, they had two children, Rufus and Martha. Rufus was the inspiration behind two of Wainwright's songs; "Rufus is a Tit Man" (referring to Rufus during breastfeeding), and "A Father and a Son", a retrospective. Wainwright's songs inspired by Martha are "Pretty Little Martha" (composed about her as an infant), "Five Years Old", (about her fifth birthday), and the brutally honest "Hitting You" (about her teenage years).
Both Rufus and Martha have become singer/songwriters. Rufus composed "Dinner at Eight" about a family dispute in the Wainwright household. Martha composed the song "Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole" about, according to her, her father. They sang a duet together on the song "Father Daughter Dialogue" (on Wainwrights' 1995 album Grown Man), and collaborated on the song "You Never Phone" (on Wainwright's 2003 album So Damn Happy).
Wainwright's second marriage was to singer Suzzy Roche. During their marriage, which also ended in divorce, they had one daughter, singer Lucy Wainwright Roche.
Wainwright was married a third time in 2005, to actress Ritamarie Kelly; they have a daughter Alexandra (Lexie) Kelly Wainwright (born 1992).