John Hiatt Biography
As a songwriter, he is universally admired. A legend. As a performer he commands quite a large cult following. To reach that position has been a long, hard struggle that has taken him through additional record deals with Epic, Capitol, Vanguard and New West. He was born on August 20, 1952 in Indianapolis and following stints in local garage bands, he moved to Nashville in 1970 to chase his musical dreams. A budding songwriter he was signed as a songwriter by Tree Music Publishing and performed around town as a member of the band White Duck.
His song Sure As I'm Sittin' Here was recorded by Three Dog Night in 1973 and became an American top 40 pop hit. This led to him signing a record deal with Epic Records releasing two acclaimed albums HANGIN' AROUND THE OBSERVATORY (1974) and OVERCOATS (1975), both of which were commercial failures. An unsuccessful stint in East Coast folk clubs led to a move to the West Coast where he was signed to MCA in Los Angeles and cut SLUG LINE and TWO BIT MONSTERS in the late 1970s. That was followed by employment with Ry Cooder's backup band, where he played guitar and was featured on a trio of Cooder albums.
His stature as a songwriter continued to grow as he had songs covered by Dave Edmunds, Maria Muldaur, Rick Nelson and others. He also contributed to film soundtracks America Gigolo and Cruising. In 1982 he moved over to Geffen Records and recorded ALL OF A SUDDEN in London with David Bowie. Two years later came the acclaimed RIDING WITH THE KING.
His r&b-inflected work deserved a break, but it was not until 1987, that the 15-year music biz survivor with little to show for it, brought three friends into a Los Angeles studio. In a mere four days, the hungry veteran and his friends (guitarist Ry Cooder, drummer Jim Keltner and bassist Nick Lowe), made BRING THE FAMILY, Hiatt's ode to his new-found domestic happiness. Rolling Stone called it 'one of the most sublime and deeply felt albums of the 1980s.'
It was his first album to chart on the Billboard 200, and featured his first single entry on the mainstream rock chart with Thank You Girl. Thing Called Love would later become a hit for Bonnie Raitt, and Have A Little Faith In Me is among Hiatt's most popular songs, although it wasn't released as a single in America. The truth is though, that the album almost didn't happen. He had been dropped by Geffen Records and had only recently become sober after several years of unreliability and had burned so many bridges in the music industry he did not think he had a chance of continuing.
UK-based Demon Records still had faith in him and they had guaranteed $30,000 towards the cost of the album. A&M Records in the USA eventually picked up the finished disc and gave John Hiatt a home for his music and a new lease of life for his career. The album has become a cornerstone of John Hiatt's career and it laid the foundation for him to continue recording and touring on a more substantial basis than previously.
He returned to the studio in 1988 to start work on SLOW TURNING, which featured his only top ten chart single, the title track, which hit No. 8 on the USA's Mainstream Rock Tracks chart and was also featured in the 2002 motion picture drama The Rookie which starred Dennis Quaid. The Jeff Healey Band took the Hiatt-penned Angel Eyes into the top five of the American pop charts in 1989, and Drive South would become a top five country hit for Suzy Bogguss in 1993. Though not credited on the album cover, Hiatt was backed by his road band The Goners.
His tenth album, STOLEN MOMENTS, was released in 1990 and it was yet another fine collection of songs that were destined to be covered by other, more well-known artists. Both Joan Baez and David Crosby recorded Through Your Hands, Earl Thomas Conley took Bring Back Your Love To Me to No. 11 on the country charts in1990 and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band made The Rest Of The Dream the title track of their album that same year. PERFECTLY GOOD GUITAR was to be John Hiatt's final studio album for A&M in 1993, despite it being his highest charting American album. The European version of the album contained the bonus track I'll Never Get Over You.
Following that John Hiatt has continued to record regularly for the independent Vanguard and New West Records firmly establishing himself as one of the essential singer-songwriters of the past 30 years.