Just weeks after announcing he had terminal cancer, Jim Varsos, better known as Hobo Jim, died Oct. 5
He was a beloved singer-songwriter, best known for the “Iditarod Trail Song,” who in 1994 was named Alaska’s official balladeer.
Varsos was born in 1952 in Indiana and raised in Wisconsin. He began playing guitar at the age of 12, according to Wikipedia, and hitchhiked to Nashville after attending college. He traveled and rode freight trains around the country and made his way to Alaska, where he appeared in small venues and state fairs for decades. He split his time between Alaska and Nashville in recent decades.
Varsos worked with publisher Pat Higdon, singer Russell Smith, and writer Rory Bourke, among others. He co-wrote “The Rock” with Russell Smith, and co-wrote with Janis Ian the song “Empty.” In 2018 he received an Honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts from the University of Alaska Fairbanks.