The late Hoyt Axton (1938-1999) was a uniquely appealing and intelligent performer, as well as the son of songwriter Mae Axton, who hit the bigtime with her rock standard "Heartbreak Hotel," the schmaltzy old Elvis hit. Hoyt followed in her footsteps, recording folk-tinged material in the early '60s, then had a big hit of his own when Three Dog Night recorded "Joy To The World," a windfall which kept him in grocery money for many a year. As his recording career unfolded, Axton eventually settled into a vaguely good-old-boy-ish, humor-filled persona that suited his warmly rounded, grandfatherly voice. Oh, yeah...! I forgot to mention Axton's acting career: among other roles, he was the sweet-tempered, seen-it-all-before grandfather in the 1984 horror comedy, Gremlins. Who knew? Here's a quick look at a great artist...

Discography -- Best-Ofs

Hoyt Axton "Road Songs" (A&M, 1977)
This old LP was the gold-standard for Hoyt Axton best-ofs for many, many years... and it is a truly killer collection. There are only, like, two songs on here that I don't care for... And the ones that I do like? Awesome! "Boney Fingers," "Flash Of Fire," "When The Morning Comes," and the ever-popular drug-related "No No Song"... this album rocks! And with friends like Linda Ronstadt, Nicolette Larson and James Burton pitching in -- what's not to love? They let it lapse out of print, but it's definitely worth tracking down.

Hoyt Axton "The A&M Years" (Polygram, 1998)
A 2-CD set reissuing four of Axton's albums cut for the A&M label in his '70s heyday: 1973's Less Than The Song, Life Machine, from 1974, Southbound from 1975, and 1976's Fearless. Pretty groovy!

Hoyt Axton "Gotta Keep Rollin': The Jeremiah Years" (Raven, 1999)
These are later recordings that Axton made on his own Jeremiah label (named, of course, after the famous bullfrog, who was a good friend of Hoyt's...) Plenty of good stuff here, too, ranging from Axton originals such as "Della And The Dealer" and "Boney Fingers," to oldies like "The Battle Of New Orleans." This Aussie import is currently the closest thing to the old Road Songs LP, and is definitely worth tracking down.

Hoyt Axton "Flashes Of Fire -- Hoyt's Very Best: 1962-1990" (Raven, 2004)

Hoyt Axton "Southbound/Fearless" (Raven, 2008)
A twofer set, reissuing a pair of Axton's two classic albums...

Hoyt Axton "Less Than The Song/Life Machine"

Hoyt Axton "Rusty Old Halo/Where Did the Money Go?"

Hoyt Axton "Pistol Packin' Mama/Spin Of The Wheel"

Discography -- Albums

Hoyt Axton "The Balladeer" (Horizon, 1962) (LP)

Hoyt Axton "Greenback Dollar" (Horizon, 1963)
This album contains basically the same material as The Balladeer, but with the crowd noise and Hoyt's stage banter edited out...

Hoyt Axton "Thunder 'N Lightnin' " (Horizon, 1963)

Hoyt Axton "Saturday's Child" (Horizon, 1963)

Hoyt Axton "Hoyt Axton Explodes!" (Vee Jay, 1964) (LP)

Hoyt Axton "Mr. Greenback Dollar Man" (Surrey, 1965) (LP)

Hoyt Axton "Hoyt Axton Sings Bessie Smith" (Exodus, 1965) (LP)

Hoyt Axton "My Griffin Is Gone" (Columbia, 1969)

Hoyt Axton "Joy To The World" (Capitol, 1971)

Hoyt Axton "Country Anthem" (Capitol, 1971)

Hoyt Axton "Less Than The Song" (A&M, 1973)

Hoyt Axton "Life Machine" (A&M, 1974)

Hoyt Axton "Southbound" (A&M, 1975)

Hoyt Axton "Fearless" (A&M, 1976)

Hoyt Axton "Snowblind Friend" (MCA, 1977)

Hoyt Axton "Road Songs" (A&M, 1978)

Hoyt Axton "Free Sailin' " (MCA, 1978)

Hoyt Axton "A Rusty Old Halo" (Jeremiah, 1979)

Hoyt Axton "Where Did the Money Go?" (Jeremiah, 1980)

Hoyt Axton "Live!" (Jeremiah, 1981)

Hoyt Axton "Pistol Packin' Mama" (Jeremiah, 1982)

Hoyt Axton "Spin Of The Wheel" (1990)


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