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Hoyt Axton

First rising to prominence as a songwriter, Hoyt Axton carved out successful careers as a singer and actor as well; rooted equally in country, folk and pop, his gravelly baritone and wry, earthy songs projected an uncommon wit, warmth, and optimism, yielding a consistently engaging body of work extending across four decades. Axton was born March 25, 1938 in Duncan, OK, the son of a naval officer and his English teacher wife. Raised primarily in Jacksonville, FL, he studied classical piano as a child before switching to guitar, writing his first songs at 15. Despite the musical impact of his mother, Mae Boren Axton -- the co-author of Elvis Presley's landmark 1956 chart-topper "Heartbreak Hotel" -- he initially pursued a career in athletics, attending Oklahoma State University on a football scholarship before serving a stint in the navy. From there Axton relocated to San Francisco, performing at local folk clubs and in 1962 writing his first hit, the Kingston Trio's "Greenback Dollar." Later that year he issued his first album, The Balladeer, a live effort recorded at the Hollywood nightspot the Troubadour; a concurrent appearance on the television western Bonanza also launched his acting career.

Axton resurfaced in 1963 with Thunder 'N Lightnin', followed later that year by Saturday's Child; around that same time one of his best friends suffered a fatal drug overdose, inspiring his song "The Pusher," a hit for the rock band Steppenwolf subsequently included on the soundtrack to the film Easy Rider. Despite his success as a songwriter, Axton's performing career failed to catch fire, and after 1965's Sings Bessie Smith he was without a recording contract for several years before signing to Columbia in 1969 to issue My Griffin Is Gone. While opening for Three Dog Night in support of the album, the band heard his composition "Joy to the World" -- their recording of the song topped the pop charts in the spring of 1971 -- and early the following year they returned to the Top Ten with Axton's "Never Been to Spain." He signed to A&M to release 1973's Less Than the Song; the follow-up, Life Machine, launched two of his biggest solo hits, the lovely "When the Morning Comes" (a duet with Linda Ronstadt) and "Boney Fingers." In 1975, Ringo Starr also notched a Top Three smash with Axton's "The No No Song."

Following the much-acclaimed 1977 album Snowblind Friend, Axton completed his deal with MCA with the release of Free Sailin'; he then formed his own label, Jeremiah Records, and with 1979's A Rusty Old Halo scored his biggest solo hit with the classic "Della and the Dealer." In the wake of appearances on dozens of television series including I Dream of Jeannie and McCloud, he landed his first major film work that same year in the acclaimed family drama The Black Stallion; Axton's subsequent movie roles included co-starring appearances in projects including 1983's Heart Like a Wheel, 1984's Gremlins, and 1989's We're No Angels. After 1982's Pistol Packin' Mama, Jeremiah folded, and Axton was noticeably absent from recording until issuing the comeback album Spin of the Wheel in 1990. The LP was Axton's last major new release, however, and in 1996 he suffered a stroke; his health continued to decline, and after a series of heart attacks he died October 26, 1999 at the age of 61. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

My step brother turned me on to Hoyt in '69—an album entitled Hoyt Axton Explodes. A week later I was looking for it and it was out of print. First album of his I bought was My Griffin Is Gone. It featured the song Snowblind Friend. I feel fortunate to have seen him at The Berkeley Community Theater in 1970 or '71.
jamesgnostic 7 7 7
Don't read this because it actually works. You
will be kissed by the love of your life on the
nearest possible Friday by the love of your life.
Tomorrow will be the best day of your life.
However if you don't post this you will die in 2
days. Now you've started reading so don't stop.
This is so scary put this on 5 songs in 143
minutes. When done press f6 and your lover's
name will come on the screen in big letters.
This is so scary because it actually works
clyons992
Loved his music for over 40 years. One of my all-time favorites whose music stands the test of time. Thanks for singing background during some of my the most memorable times of my life !
larrybdunn
So at the time Dylan was making his name, Hoyt was doing a folk thing that included recording with just himself (his guitar) and a trombone, and just him (his guitar) and a black gospel group. A true original wayyyyy before the country hits. Burl Dunn
amallison4
In ‘76 I was listening to “Somebody Turned on the Light” on a new album. My life was in shambles and I was starting to doubt my atheism. That song eventually brought me to a saving faith in Jesus Christ. If I am not mistaken, that was Hoyt’s story of coming to the Lord. I hope to sing with him someday soon beyond the river.
amallison4
I first heard of Hoyt in the early 60s. I often heard him at the Troubadour. I met him before the Topanga Canyon Folk Festival started one afternoon. He asked me to get him a bottle of wine because he couldn't leave the grounds. I came back with the nicest bottle of red I could find and found him sitting in a ditch warming up with the Dillard brothers. We passed it around between the 4 of us as as they played for an audience of one.
i first met him at the golden bear in huntington beach ,Cali.he had more talent than most on a bad day, which Hoyt never had many of. He brought smiles and laughter everywhere he went. he was an all around great person and friend' R.I.P. Hoyi love and miss always
contactrkpay n e
Rick 46 Hoyt and I first met at the famous Golden Bear in Huntington Beach, CA and on several occasions reconnected at the Troubadore, and other clubs up and down the West Coast. Hoyt invited me to join him and along with Joe and Eddy, Tim Morgan, and The Dillard's at the Golden Sails Inn on Pacific Coast Highway in Seal Beach, Ca. Whew ... what a night of the best music ever played. Jammed all night. This man was a gifted artist to be sure. He was much more; ... a very good man!
knig51
I was also looking for Life Machine
Love Hoyt. I saw him live once in the early 1980's, What a great show. He had so many enchores (sp?) that he had to start repeating songs.
Where is Free Sailin'?
paulh014
Pandora, Where is life Machine?
jensen.sophi e
Still miss him ... a lot! I was privileged to see him at Cal's Greek Theater and at the funky Guerneville theater on the Russian River. What a guy!
I met Hoyt he was traveling with Arlo Guthrie. I also saw him preform twice in Oregon. I lived in his same little town. I like his stuff with Linda Ronstand and the women artists. A big ole guy with a great laugh as well.
marksanscars
Axton was a good writer. I met and spoke with him at Point of Rocks lodge outside of Livingston Montana. I was the only one who knew who he was. As he was out promoting his upcoming concert in Billings. we went. He put on a great show. My favorite Axton album was titled "Fearless". Which was the name of his "wonder" dog. It had many great hits in my mind like Evangelina, the "raccon" nature song I cant remember the name of the song; but I, like the racoons, really liked the music. His best albu
the great story teller in songs
Hoyt is/was my Brother in Law, the stories i could tell!
He's up there now ^
'Singin in the BIG Choir...
With his Rusty 'ol Halo!
Peace Love and Light Hoyt...
Sister Hattie
XOXOX
carolann590t
Love Hoyt Axton music! Live at Lake Tahoe and recently discovered his son Matthew inherited his voice, so for those fans who love Hoyt... Matt Axton is coming soon to a music venue near you. When I heard young Matt, I was not alone in my finding his voice, his charm, his looks and his talent amazing.
billyjoemill s
Hoyt, I miss you and I never knew you until today.
kd8184
First time i heard of Hoyt was in the movie Gremlins. Saw him in an episode of Bonanza. I then listened to his music and i love it!!!
Loved his music and the whole attitude that life was too precious to be stingy w/ experience and love - gone too soon - like an old Jerry Jeff song ' it'll be a good time while they're here and a short time till they're gone'
happyy to know that good old country music people still have a way to reach out...xoxo Soonerbabeej o n i
thevanman552
Great stock with his mama, but all I know is this man's songs have affected my life and I am grateful he wrote those songs that touched me. Guys like him are my inspiration. . w h o cares who knows who you are; if the songs are good people will find them. That is what Hoyt did. He lived a full and interesting life.. he is and always will be an inspiration to me.
OLE HOYT WAS A GAMER,HE WAS A GREAT SINGER,HAD A WONDERFUL RICH VOICE AND WAS A GOOD ACTOR AS WELL,LIKED ALL THE SONGS HE WROTE AND PERFORMED,JU S T A WONDEWRFUL TALENT,SAD THAT HE PASSED AWAY TO SOON...THANK S PANDORA
As a teenager in West Los Angeles in the early 60's, I had many opportunitie s to go to the Troubadour on Monday night, which was "Hoot Night." It was there I discovered Hoyt Axton. He would always put his foot up on a chair, and when he would get emotional the chair would get the brunt. It was there he debuted "The Pusher," and I had never seen such emotion (or swearing on stage). I have loved his humor and music ever since. He is missed.
The late great Hoyt Axton was one of my favorites as I was growing up listening to Country Music. Who can forget his appearance on WKRP in Cincinnatti when he played the boy from Jennifer's hometown... by the way that was the debut for the song Della & The Dealer.
Great music here.
pdxfrede
This guy is on top of my list of artists that never recieved the regognition he so truly deserved. A terrific talent and stage personality that left us way too soon.
zelli610
it was late at night on a dark stretch of highway between hartshorne oklahoma and higgins.hoyt axton was on his way home from a concert at the tuskahoma music festival.the r e was a head on crash on the gaines creek bridge.two people in one truck were killed and the boy in the other truck was burning to death. this was years ago, before cell phones. hoyt axton and his crew got all their bottled water and extinguisher s and kept the fire off the boy until help got there.they saved his life.
platero_i
Great talent, probably never reached full potential on charts. One of my favorites.
I remember Hoyt. I heard him play at the Virginia Beach Dome ca 1969. He opened up for an electric act. Man, I can't remember who it was. Might have been Three Dog Night. Well, he came out, just him and his guitar, and did a short set. He sensed that the crowd wanted to cut straight to the electric stuff, and said "Well, I'm hip gang. I'll do one more for and then we'll get the headliners out here." We weren't a very gracious audience. But he was a gracious person and performer. As I recall, he

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