Hoyt Axton

Hoyt AxtonFrom: Duncan, OK, USA

Hoyt Axton started out his career as a prominent songwriter. He would eventually go on to carve out a successful career as a singer and actor. Axton was rooted in country, folk, and pop. Born in 1938, Hoyt Axton was the son of a naval officer and his English teacher wife. He was raided primarily in Jacksonville, Florida, where he studied classical piano as a child, eventually switching over to guitar. He wrote his first song at 15.

Despite the musical influence Axton received from his mother, he initially pursued a career in athletics. He would attend Oklahoma State University on a football scholarship, and then served with the navy for a brief time. After this, Axton moved to San Francisco, where he performed at local folk clubs. In 1962, he wrote his first hit, “Greenback Dollar,” performed by the Kingston Trio. His first album was released later in ’62, The Balladeer. The album was a live recording from the Hollywood nightspot the Troubadour. Axton’s acting career was also launched at this time as a result of the concurrent appearance on the television western Bonanza.

Axton’s next release was in 1963 with Thunder “N Lightnin’. Later that year, he also released Saturday’s Child. Around this time, one of Axton’s close friends passed away of a drug overdose. This inspired the song “The Pusher” which became a hit for Steppenwolf, who’s version was included in the film Easy Rider. Hoyt Axton had developed himself as a successful songwriter, but his performing career failed to take off. After four years without a contract, Axton signed with Columbia in 1969, releasing My Griffin Is Gone. In support of the album, Axton opened for Three Dog Night. When the band heard Axton’s “Joy To The World,” they wanted to do a cover of it, eventually landing a #1 hit on the pop charts with the song. Three Dog Night also landed a top 10 hit with their version of his “Never Been To Spain.” Hoyt Axton signed with A&M in 1973, releasing Less Than The Song. Life Machine was his next release, featuring his two biggest solo hits, “When The Morning Comes” (with Linda Ronstadt), and “Boney Fingers.” Ringo Starr would also land a top three hit with Axton’s “The No No Song.”

In 1977, Hoyt Axton released his highly-acclaimed album Snowblind Friend. Steppenwolf would also record a version of the title track in the early ’70s. Free Sailin’ was Axton’s last recording for MCA before he formed his own label, Jeremiah Records. Axton continued recording and acting, until he tragically passed away in 1999 at the age of 61.

Artist information sources include: an article by Jason Ankeny at Allmusic.com

Feel free to use our Facebook page to discuss & ask any questions you have about this artist, a fellow PsycheHead is sure to have the answer.

Tracks played on Psychedelicized…

From the 1971 album Joy To The World
Joy To The World

  • The Pusher