Born in Chapel Hill, N.C. in 1946, Loudon Wainwright III came to fame when “Dead Skunk” became a Top 20 hit in 1972. He had studied acting at Carnegie-Mellon University, but dropped out to partake in the “Summer of Love” in San Francisco, and wrote his first song in 1968 (“Edgar,” about a lobsterman in Rhode Island).

He was soon signed to Atlantic Records by Nesuhi Ertegun, and was lured by Clive Davis to Columbia Records, which released “Dead Skunk.” His songs have since been recorded by Bonnie Raitt, Johnny Cash, Earl Scruggs, Kate & Anna McGarrigle, his son Rufus Wainwright, and Mose Allison, among others. In 2011, they were commemorated by the comprehensive five-disc retrospective 40 Odd Years.