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Cogn Behav Neurol. 2007 Dec;20(4):238-43.

The Huntington disease of woody guthrie: another man done gone.

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  • 1UCLA Department of Neurology, Los Angeles, CA.


Woody Guthrie was an American songwriter, musician, writer, and political activist who died with Huntington disease (HD) in 1967 at age 55. His relatively brief creative life was incredibly productive with countless songs and a tremendous volume of letters to his name. His personal life was similarly driven with Woody having had 3 wives and at least 9 children and an insatiable appetite for traveling the United States. In this essay, I explore Guthrie's art in relation to the development of the overt behavioral changes and chorea that characterized his illness. Woody's most productive time artistically was in the 5 years immediately preceding the onset of overt symptoms of HD. I hypothesize that subclinical HD may have been an important driving force behind Woody Guthrie's creativity.

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