Marc Ribot

Marc Ribot
Background information
Born (1954-05-21) May 21, 1954
Newark, New Jersey, United States
Genres Experimental, alternative, avant garde, electronic, hardcore punk
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Guitar
Years active 1970s–present
Labels Antilles, Avant, DIW, Atlantic, Tzadik, Pi
Associated acts Lounge Lizards, Shrek, Los Cubanos Postizos, Bar Kokhba Sextet, Electric Masada, Jazz Passengers, Young Philadelphians, John Zorn, Tom Waits

Marc Ribot (/ˈrb/;[1] born May 21, 1954) is an American guitarist and composer.

His work has touched on many styles, including no wave, free jazz, rock, and Cuban music. Ribot is also known for collaborating with other musicians, most notably Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, Vinicio Capossela, and composer John Zorn.


Ribot was born in Newark, New Jersey. He has worked extensively as a session guitarist. He has performed and recorded with Tom Waits, Caetano Veloso, John Zorn, David Sylvian, Jack McDuff, Wilson Pickett, The Lounge Lizards, Arto Lindsay, T-Bone Burnett, Medeski, Martin and Wood, Cibo Matto, Sam Phillips, Elvis Costello, Tift Merritt, Allen Ginsberg, Foetus, Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, Susana Baca, The Black Keys, Vinicio Capossela, Alain Bashung, McCoy Tyner, Elton John, Madeleine Peyroux, Marianne Faithfull, Diana Krall, Mike Patton, Neko Case, Joe Henry, Allen Toussaint and others.

Ribot's earliest session work was featured on Tom Waits's Rain Dogs (1985) and helped define Waits's new musical direction.[2] Ribot worked with Waits on many of his following albums including Franks Wild Years (1987), Big Time (1988), Mule Variations (1999), Real Gone (2004), Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards (2006) and Bad as Me (2011). He has appeared on Elvis Costello's Spike (1989), Mighty Like a Rose (1991), and Kojak Variety (1995). Ribot has appeared on numerous recordings by John Zorn, including many of Zorn's Filmworks recordings, solo performances on Zorn's Masada Guitars (also featuring Bill Frisell and Tim Sparks), and is a member of Zorn's Bar Kokhba Sextet and Electric Masada.

Ribot's first two albums featured the Rootless Cosmopolitans, followed by an album of works by Frantz Casseus for solo guitar. Further releases found him working in a variety of band and solo contexts including two albums with his self-described "dance band", Marc Ribot y Los Cubanos Postizos[3] (Prosthetic Cubans), featuring compositions by Arsenio Rodríguez.

Ribot admitted to Guitar Player a relatively limited technical facility due to learning to play right-handed despite being left-handed: "That's a real limit, one that caused me a lot of grief when I was working with Jack McDuff and realizing I wasn't following in George Benson's footsteps. I couldn't be a straight-ahead jazz contender if you held a gun to my head, but that begs the question of whether I would want to be one."[4]

He currently performs and records with his groups Marc Ribot's Ceramic Dog with bassist Shahzad Ismaily and drummer Ches Smith of the avant-garde band Secret Chiefs 3,[5] Marc Ribot Trio with bassist Henry Grimes and drummer Chad Taylor of Chicago Underground, and The Young Philadelphians, covering 1970s Philadelphia soul music with Philadelphia-based musicians bassist Jamaaladeen Tacuma and drummer G. Calvin Weston with guitarist Mary Halvorson plus a three-piece string section.

A biographical documentary film about Ribot was made, called The Lost String.

Ribot was also a judge for the 6th annual Independent Music Awards.[6]


Marc Ribot in Saalfelden, Austria 2010



  1. "Marc Ribot biography". Marc Ribot Homepage. Retrieved 2008-09-22.
  2. Ruhlman, W. All Music Review of Raindogs accessed September 3, 2008.
  3. A Fireside Chat with Marc Ribot
  4. Guitar Player, June 1997
  5. Ted Drozdowski (June 25, 2008). "Marc Ribot's Ceramic Dog Party Intellectuals". The Boston Phoenix. Retrieved 2008-07-15.
  6. Independent Music Awards – 6th Annual Judges
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