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Posted: September 05, 2017

Music documentary filmmaker Murray Lerner dead at 90

Murray Lerner (left) and musician Peter Yarrow attended the Monday Nights With Oscar Screening Of
Jason Kempin/Getty Images
Murray Lerner (left) and musician Peter Yarrow attended the Monday Nights With Oscar Screening Of "Festival" at the Academy Theater at Lighthouse International in July.

By Bob D’Angelo, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

Murray Lerner, a music documentary filmmaker of the 1960s and ′70s who recorded historic footage of Bob Dylan going electric at the 1965 Newport Jazz Festival, died Saturday in Long Island City, New York, Variety reported. He was 90.

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Lerner also captured Jimi Hendrix and The Doors giving the final performance of their careers in 1970 at the Isle of Wight Festival.

Lerner died following an illness of about three months, according to his son Noah Lerner, a writer and producer at HBO. “He was a complete filmmaker,” Lerner told Variety. “A cinematographer first and foremost, but someone who also wrote, edited, produced and directed.”

Lerner won an Oscar for best documentary in 1981 for “From Mozart to Mao: Isaac Stern in China,” but it was his second film, “Festival,” released in 1967, that made him famous, Variety reported. The chronicle of the Newport Folk Festival from 1963 to 1966 earned Lerner his first Academy Award nomination.

In the months preceding his death he was working on a documentary about Joni Mitchell, titled “Both Sides Now: Joni Mitchell Live at the Isle of Wight 1970.” Due for release in 2018, it is the eleventh complete project from the concert.

Lerner was born in Philadelphia and raised in New York City. He attended Harvard on a full scholarship, according to his son, graduating in 1948. He is survived by his wife Judith, to whom he was married for 60 years; his son; daughter-in-law Julie; and two grandchildren. Private services will be held Wednesday in New York.


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