March 25, 1938 - October 26, 1999
I first heard Hoyt Axton on an LP back in 1975, singing "In a Young Girl's Mind." I became an instant fan. He was, in essence, a good ole country boy, with a deep, deep baritone and very melodic singing voice. He was also, as anyone will attest, one of the really good, good guys, who was smart, funny, warm, and charming.
He was born in Duncan, Oklahoma, but since his dad was in the Navy, he spent most of his youth in Jacksonville, Florida. His mother was an english teacher, who co-wrote the Elvis Presley hit, Heartbreak Hotel. Hoyt initially studied the Piano and played football. He went to Oklahoma State University on a football scholarship and enlisted in the Navy.
He began his singing and song writing career in San Francisco in 1962 and wrote his first hit, "Greenback Dollar", for the Kingston Trio.
Even in the beginning, Hoyt was always super busy. In that same time period, he also released his first albumn, The Balladeer, and made his first acting appearance in an episode of Bonanza. After a friend overdosed on drugs, Hoyt was inspired to write "The Pusher", which became a hit for Steppenwolf and was later added to the soundtrack of Easy Rider.
Like most artists, Hoyt spent a few years struggling, but in '69 or '70, he opened for Three Dog Night with his composition of "Joy to the World", which 3DN later recorded and it subsequently topped the charts in 1971. His "Never Been to Spain" promptly followed, recorded once again by 3DN. One of his most successful hits came in 1973, when he teamed with Linda Ronstadt to sing "When the Morning Comes."
Hoyt continued to issue a steady stream of new songs and new recordings. After recording for Columbia, A&M and MCA, He formed his own label, Jeremiah Records, (from his hit, Jeremiah was a bullfrog) and then starred in his first major film, The Black Stallion. Many more films followed in the '80's, during which time his recordings were noticeably absent. In 1990, Hoyt recorded his last major new release, and after years of declining health and a series of heart attacks, Hoyt passed away in 1999, at the age of 61.