The Life and Legacy of Michael Tell: From Music to Activism

Michael Tell was an American musician, journalist, and political activist who made significant contributions to the world of music and social justice in the 1960s and 1970s. He is often remembered for his brief marriage to the iconic actress and activist, Patty Duke, but his own accomplishments should not be overlooked. In this article, we will delve into the life and legacy of Michael Tell, exploring his background, career, and activism.

Early Life and Career

Michael Tell was born on April 22, 1945, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. His father was a salesman, and his mother was a homemaker. Tell grew up in a musical family, and he started playing the guitar at an early age. He attended the University of Michigan, where he studied journalism and became involved in the anti-war movement.

After college, Tell moved to New York City and began his career in journalism. He worked for several publications, including The Village Voice and The New York Times. In the mid-1960s, Tell became interested in music and began playing the guitar and writing songs. He formed a band called The Accents, which released a few singles and toured with several other popular bands of the era.

Marriage to Patty Duke

In 1970, Michael Tell made headlines when he married Patty Duke, who was at the height of her fame as an actress. The marriage was short-lived, lasting only 13 days, but it generated a great deal of publicity. Some have suggested that the marriage was a publicity stunt, while others believe that it was a genuine attempt at love. Whatever the case, the marriage did not last, and the couple divorced.

Activism and Legacy

After his marriage to Patty Duke ended, Michael Tell became more involved in political activism. He worked with several organizations, including the Black Panthers and the American Indian Movement, advocating for civil rights and social justice. Tell also continued to pursue his music career, playing in various bands and writing songs that reflected his political beliefs.

Michael Tell passed away on April 29, 1995, at the age of 50. Although he may not be as well-known as some of his contemporaries, his contributions to the world of music and social justice should not be overlooked. Michael Tell was a talented musician, a passionate activist, and a man who lived his life according to his beliefs.


Michael Tell was a fascinating figure who made significant contributions to the world of music and social justice in the 1960s and 1970s. His brief marriage to Patty Duke may have overshadowed his own accomplishments, but his legacy should not be forgotten. Michael Tell’s dedication to political activism and his talent as a musician continues to inspire others to this day.

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