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Rik Elswit

Guitarist for 15 years with Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show
Teaches Bluegrass Banjo, Old Time Banjo, and Finger-Picking Guitar


Rik was a studio guitarist in San Francisco in the early 1970's. One of his gigs was playing folk guitar for Shel Silverstein, who had written some songs for Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show, including their hit "Sylvia's Mother." Silverstein introduced Rik to the band, and in 1972 Rik joined Dr. Hook. He was part of their fame and world tours for the next 15 years, including earning eight gold records.

In addition to his teaching, Rik currently plays with Gayle Lynn and the Hired Hands and with Annie Z and The Best She Could Do. He also writes for Acoustic Guitar Magazine.


The first music I ever heard that stopped me in my tracks was hearing Louis Armstrong singing and playing Ain't Misbehavin. My uncle had put it on simply to show off the stereo he's built, but I couldn't get enough, and made him play it again .... and again, after the guests left. Music can do that to you. I had the same hit hearing Pete Seeger tear into the intro of Darlin' Corey on the five-string, and then again hearing Earl Scruggs do the impossible on Flinthill Special. And the Beatles with From Me To You, but that's another story.

I've made my living in rock and roll, worked almost every bar in San Francisco, probably putting number of them out of business, and have a number of gold singles to my credit as a member of Dr. Hook. But the music I make for love has always been roots music, country and blues, and I specialize in banjo, three-finger and clawhammer, and in thumbstyle guitar.