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Ernest F. Jensen
June 26, 1952 ~ May 8, 2023 (age 70) 70 Years Old
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Ernest F. Jensen dropped his body on May 8, 2023. Known to friends as Ernie or EJ, he was born in Manhattan, NY on June 26, 1952.
The police took him from his mother, Elizabeth Mooney, when he was very young (perhaps 2 years old). He was taken to his mother's funeral when he was (perhaps) 5 years old.
Ernie was raised by a foster family in Yorktown Heights, NY, and attended Yorktown schools until 1969. He was a gifted musician; when his friend Jess Youngquest got a guitar Ernie, age 14, learned how to play it and then taught Jess. Ernie got his own guitar at age 15. He also acquired a broken fiddle, fixed it and the bow, then taught himself many Celtic tunes by ear.
Ernie and Jess started playing the streets of NYC in the summer of 1970, using the band name “Pullin' Teeth.” They would hitchhike back and forth, camping in the woods of Yorktown. They did this for years, until Jess got a VW bus and started busking around the Northeast, while Ernie moved to NYC and became a regular on the streets there. Once, busking with only a pennywhistle, John McCutcheon said “you can't make any money with a pennywhistle” and got a fiddle to him. His hard life situation made keeping a working instrument difficult, but with simple tools Ernie was able to repair many a seemingly hopeless case.
In the city, Ernie started playing with David Peel and his band “The Lower East Side.” In 1972 they all appeared on the David Frost Show with John Lennon and Yoko Ono. This show is on You Tube, where you can see shy Ernie playing fiddle while facing away from the camera. In 1975 he spent three months recording in the studio with John, Yoko and baby Sean.
In 1976 Ernie rejoined Jess, now in Ithaca N.Y., where Ernie lived for the rest of his life. They reformed “Pullin' Teeth” and drove around the Northeast busking college campuses and coffee houses. The bands he played with included: Pullin Teeth, The Lower East Side, Buddy Moots, Raccoon Alley Jug Band, Crystal City String Band, Bedlam, and Gilgamesh. We all learned a lot from him about playing. He had a very natural ability and a great ear! He could play with any music on any instrument, and was very humble about his ability.
Ernie was very gentle and independent. Even in difficult times, often with no stable home, he was very self reliant. in 2018, he moved into Longview. The staff there were much appreciated and made his last years the easiest of his life. He will be missed by all who knew and loved him.