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Lewiston worked as a musician at the Gurdjieff Foundation in New York for over ten years, but found it hard to make a living as a musician and spent more than ten years working as a journalist.
Returning to music, he began to travel and record traditional music, which is what he became known for, producing a wide variety of recordings on the Nonesuch label. Recordings he made in the 1960s and 70s are particularly valuable, using portable recording equipment in remote locations.
David Lewiston died in Hawaii on 29 May 2017, aged eighty-eight.