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Rodd Keith (January 30, 1937 - December 16, 1974) was born Rodney Keith Eskelin. As a talented multi-instrumentalist and songwriter, he is perhaps the best known figure in the obscure musical sub-genre known as song poem music.Read More...
He worked for several companies active in the song-poem business, a practice also known as song sharking, and one generally dismissed by the mainstream music industry as a scam.
Keith recorded hundreds of musical compositions based around lyrics sent in to song-poem companies by amateur songwriters, based upon small ads in the backs of mass market magazines promising success in the profitable field of songwriting. After a letter was sent by the company, the amateur songwriters would then be convinced to pay the company a fee to have a recording and records made. Keith sang on these recordings as well as playing several different instruments.
In December of 1974, Rodd met his death in California, on the Hollywood Freeway in Los Angeles. According to an article in the Los Angeles Times (which ran on December 16th of 1975) Rodd was seen "leaping or falling from an overcrossing onto the Hollywood Freeway," and he "plunged down the Santa Monica Blvd. overpass onto the northbound freeway about 5:15 a.m. and drivers could not avoid him." It has been suggested that this was a suicidal act, but Rodd's heavy drug use at this time has led others to claim it was an accident. 
In the 1990s, record collectors who seek out old vinyl recordings rediscovered these obscure discs. Several compilations of these songs were released on compact disc, including several which featured the work of Keith exclusively. Keith's son, avant-garde saxophonist Ellery Eskelin, provided commentary on these releases. Although Ellery never actually met his father, he was told by many people that he was some kind of musical genius. Keith once remarked that he spelled "Rodd" with two d's because "God only used one."
I Died Today, Rodd Keith (Tzadik)
Ecstacy To Frenzy, Rodd Keith (Tzadik)
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