Phil Ochs

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Person.png Phil Ochs  Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(singer, songwriter)
Phil-Ochs (cropped).jpg
BornDecember 19, 1940
El Paso, Texas, U.S.
DiedApril 9, 1976 (Age 35)
New York City, U.S.
Cause of death
Victim of • COINTELPRO
• CIA?
The most political singer/songwriter against the war in Vietnam. Survived strangulation attack by "robber" that may have been CIA operation.

Philip David Ochs was an American singer and songwriter.

The most political symbol of protest against the war in Vietnam, and songwriter for Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, and many others, Ochs just happened to be touring Africa when a native "robber" jumped him and tried to strangle him, something that affected his singing afterwards.[1]

Official narrative

After years of prolific writing in the 1960s, Ochs's mental stability declined in the 1970s. He had a number of personal problems, including bipolar disorder and alcoholism, and died by suicide in 1976.


Ochs was a COINTELPRO target. After his death, it was revealed that the FBI had a file on him roughly 500 pages long, and he was still considered to be "potentially dangerous," even after his death.[2]

Ochs was almost extradited from Uruguay, via Argentina, to Bolivia, where he would have been murdered, but escaped thanks to help from the pilot.[3]

In 1973, Ochs was attacked and strangled by robbers during a tour in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, which damaged his vocal cords, causing a loss of the top three notes in his vocal range.[4] Ochs believed that attack may have been arranged by the CIA.[5]

Fair Play for Cuba?

His friend folk singer Jim Glover claimed Ochs was keenly interested in the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and in fact was on Dealey Plaza on the day of the assassination, allegedly even being caught in some photos. Ochs went to Chile shortly before Salvador Allende was overthrown by the CIA. Glover also said Ochs claimed to be working for Fair Play for Cuba, as well as "a domestic National Security deal like the CIA".[6]

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  5. Schumacher, Michael (2018) [1996]. There But for Fortune: The Life of Phil Ochs., pages 279–285.
  6. In email exchange with Donald Jeffries, quoted in Jeffries On Borrowed fame. Money, mysteries and corruption in the entertainment world, page 135