The Viking of 6th Avenue

  • September 23, 2015
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Documentary Feature:

Viking of 6th Avenue 

In production (2016) with Hark Pictures
Director: Holly Elson
Producers: Lori Cheatle, Holly Elson; Executive Producers: John Battsek, Nicole Stott, Passion Pictures

For the first time on film, The Viking of Sixth Avenue tells the story of Moondog, New York street icon, internationally renowned composer and the ultimate cult music figure.

Charlie Parker and Benny Goodman hung out with him. Philip Glass lived with him, Steve Reich and Jon Gibson performed with him and all three modern music greats recorded with him. Janis Joplin covered his music, Ginsberg stuck it on his fridge and Andy Warhol’s mom designed one of his album covers. In the 60s he was a counter culture hero; today he’s celebrated and performed by the likes of Antony and the Johnsons, John Zorn, The Kronos Quartet and Jens Lekman. His ongoing influence can be heard in the music of artists from Bjork to The Books.

Featuring a rich archive, including international TV, radio and film appearances, never- before-seen home movies and personal and crowd sourced footage and photographs, The Viking of Sixth Avenue examines the life and work of the one-time homeless musician whose influence on contemporary music continues to this day.

Born in Kansas and raised across the Midwest, Louis Thomas Hardin lost his eyesight in an accident as a teenager and studied music at the Iowa School for the Blind. Arriving in New York in 1943, over the next three decades Hardin reinvented himself as Moondog and honed the handcrafted, otherworldly look and idiosyncratic musical style that would make him famous. Part outsider, Moondog was also in popular demand: he was a repeat guest on The Tonight Show, was frequently featured in newspapers and magazines and Columbia Records released several albums of his music.  Moondog’s remarkable personal story spans over 80 years and takes him from Black Foot ceremonies in Idaho to a case involving the New York Supreme Court to being honored by European royalty.  His unique musical journey has him performing with Salvador Dali, recording a children’s record with Julie Andrews and conducting the Brooklyn Philharmonic.

In striking cinematic style, The Viking of Sixth Avenue is a feature length documentary that delves into the mystery of this fascinating man who devoted his life to music, eschewing all comforts and many personal relationships to pursue a singular artistic vision.  The film goes beyond the popular spectacle of Moondog as the Viking to uncover the motivations of a man determined not only to create original music, but to live a truly original life.


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