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Tim Hardin

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Biography

A gentle, soulful singer who owed as much to blues and jazz as folk, Tim Hardin produced an impressive body of work in the late '60s without ever approaching either mass success or the artistic heights of the best singer/songwriters. When future Lovin' Spoonful producer Erik Jacobsen arranged for Hardin's first recordings in the mid-'60s, Hardin was no more than an above-average white blues singer, in the mold of many fellow folkys working the East Coast circuit. By the time of his 1966 debut, however, he was writing confessional folk-rock songs of considerable grace and emotion. The first album's impact was slightly diluted by incompatible string overdubs (against Hardin's wishes), but by the time of his second and best LP, he'd achieved a satisfactory balance between acoustic guitar-based arrangements and subtle string accompaniment. It was the lot of Hardin's work to achieve greater recognition through covers from other singers, such as Rod Stewart (who did "Reason to Believe"), Nico (who covered "Eulogy to Lenny Bruce" on her first album), Scott Walker (who sang "Lady Came From Baltimore"), Fred Neil ("Green Rocky Road" has been credited to both him and Hardin), and especially Bobby Darin, who took "If I Were a Carpenter" into the Top Ten in 1966. Beleaguered by a heroin habit since early in his career, Hardin's drug problems became grave in the late '60s; his commercial prospects grew dimmer, and his albums more erratic, although he did manage to appear at Woodstock. His end was not a pretty one: due to accumulated drug and health problems, as well as a scarcity of new material, he didn't complete any albums after 1973, dying of a drug overdose in 1980. ~ Richie Unterberger
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