Acclaimed Oregon troubadour Tim Hardin is one of the most influential and respected singer-songwriters of all time, not that the man himself cared much for the title. “My songs aren’t personal,” he insisted before his death in 1980Read More
Hardin was born in Eugene, Oregon and attended South Eugene High School. He dropped out of high school at age 18 to join the Marine Corps. He spent part of 1959 in Vietnam as a military advisor. Hardin is said to have discovered heroin in Vietnam.
After his discharge he moved to New York City in 1961, where he briefly attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. He was dismissed because of truancy and began to focus on his musical career by performing around Greenwich Village, mostly in a blues style.
After moving to Boston in 1963 he was discovered by the record producer Erik Jacobsen (later the producer for The Lovin’ Spoonful), who arranged a meeting with Columbia Records. In 1964 he moved back to Greenwich Village to record for his contract with Columbia. The resulting recordings were not released and Columbia terminated Hardin’s recording contract.
After moving to Los Angeles, California in 1965, he met actress Susan Morss (known professionally as Susan Yardley), and moved back to New York with her. He signed to the Verve Forecast label, and produced his first authorized album, Tim Hardin 1 in 1966 which contained “Reason To Believe” and the ballad “Misty Roses” which did receive Top 40 radio play.
Tim Hardin 2 was released in 1967 and contained “If I Were a Carpenter”.
An album entitled This is Tim Hardin, featuring covers of “House of the Rising Sun”, Fred Neil’s “Blues on the Ceilin'” and Willie Dixon’s “Hoochie Coochie Man”, among others, appeared in 1967, on the Atco label. The liner notes indicate the songs were recorded in 1963–1964, well prior to the release of Tim Hardin 1 by Verve Records. Tim Hardin 3 Live in Concert, released in 1968, was a collection of live recordings along with re-makes of previous songs; it was followed by Tim Hardin 4, another collection of blues-influenced tracks believed to date from the same period as This is Tim Hardin.
In 1969, Hardin again signed with Columbia and had one of his few commercial successes, as a non-LP single of Bobby Darin’s “Simple Song of Freedom” reached the US Top 50. Hardin did not tour in support of this single and a heroin addiction and stage fright made his live performances erratic.
Also in 1969 he appeared at the Woodstock Festival where he sang his “If I Were a Carpenter” song solo, as well as a full set of his music while backed by a band that included drummer Muruga Booker.
He recorded three albums for Columbia—Suite for Susan Moore and Damion: We Are One, One, All in One; Bird on a Wire; and Painted Head.
In 1973, Hardin appeared on stage with Harry Chapin as part of Chapin’s concert in Potsdam, New York. They jammed on a blues riff that survives in a bootleg recording. Some of the topics covered in the seven-minute long jam include drug use, travel and death. In Chapin’s introduction, he makes reference to Hardin’s participation as a session musician on his first two albums.