GARTH HUDSON was born August 2nd, 1937 in Windsor, Ontario, Canada to Fred James Hudson and Olive Louella Pentland. His mother played piano, accordion and sang; his father played drums, C melody saxophone, clarinet and flute, and would play piano on Christmas Eve. Garth’s family moved to London, Ontario around 1940. He grew up there and received his education at Broughdale Public School, Medway High School, and the University of Western Ontario. Garth studied piano with Miss Nellie Milligan and Clifford Von Custer while learning theory, harmony, and counterpoint with Thomas Chattoe. He also played organ for services at St. Luke’s Anglican Church. Garth then performed with dance bands and joined a rock and roll group, the Capers, from 1958 through 1961, before becoming the music consultant, organist and saxophonist for Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks, the ace Arkansas-based rhythm and blues band, from 1961 to 1963.
After leaving Hawkins, Levon and the Hawks toured on their own. Albert Grossman’s assistant, Mary Martin, introduced them to Bob Dylan, who recruited them to accompany him on his controversial 1966 folk-rock tour, and they settled near Woodstock, New York. Bob was a frequent visitor to their pink-colored house and Garth recorded their collaborations, resulting in the legendary Basement Tapes.
In 1968, the Hawks became known simply as The Band and recorded their seminal debut album, Music From Big Pink. Over the next eight years, The Band continued recording and touring, releasing eight albums and performing for full houses around the world. Among the highlights of these shows for many in the audience, and the other Band members themselves, were Garth’s improvised introductions to “Chest Fever.” The Band called an end to touring with a lavish final concert on Thanksgiving 1976 as documented in Martin Scorsese’s film, “The Last Waltz.”
Garth spent the next 16 years in California’s burgeoning music scene, contributing to several movie soundtracks, such as the Academy Award-winning “The Right Stuff” and Martin Scorsese’s films “Raging Bull” and “The King of Comedy,” among others. He also enjoyed recording and collaborating with other musicians on their albums. A brush fire in 1978 swept through the hills of Malibu and destroyed the Hudson’s new home, Big Oak Basin Dude Ranch, as Garth and his singer/actress wife, Maud, were making renovations. Soon after the fire experience, he composed the Music For Our Lady Queen Of The Angels, a multimedia celebrational environment created in 1980 for the 200th anniversary of the City of Los Angeles by Hollywood veteran costume and set designer Tony Duquette, including a saeta written by Ray Bradbury and narrated by Charleton Heston.
Garth performed with The Band frequently through the ’80s and ’90s. He moved back to the Woodstock area in 1991 and recorded three CDs with The Band over the next few years. He has appeared on TV shows, such as Ed Sullivan, Bob Dylan’s 30th Anniversary, Woodstock ’94, The Late Show with David Letterman, The Tonight Show, Conan O’Brien, Saturday Night Live, Roots 94 (NRK-TV) Norway, Puistoblues Finland.
He has recorded and performed with many artists, including Norah Jones, Neko Case, Los Lobos, The Gipsy Kings, Leonard Cohen, Thumbs Carllile, Van Morrison, Muddy Waters, Marianne Faithfull, Roger Waters, Jennifer Warnes, Cyndi Lauper, Tango Man, the Northern Pikes, Kevin Hearn & Thinbuckle, Barenaked Ladies, John Sebastian, Jessie Winchester, Geoff Muldaur, Tom Rush, Livingston Taylor, Bill Conte, the Hudson Valley Philharmonic Orchestra, Moto “The Lion” Sano, Jimmy Sturr, Wild Bill Davis, Clifford Scott, Louisiana Red, Jo-El Sonnier, Emmylou Harris, Champion Jack Dupree, John Anderson, Tommy Spurlock, Sneaky Pete Kleinow and the Flying Burrito Brothers, David Bromberg, Sarah Perrota, the Indigo Girls, Richard Belzer, Sinead O’Connor, Don McLean, Keith Richards, Hirth Martinez, Levon Helm and the Barn Burners, Eric Andersen, Jonas Fjeld, Halvard Bjørgum, The Call, Todd Rundgren, Karla Bonoff, Linda Thompson, The Secret Machines, Jonah Smith, The Sadies, the Big Blue Big Band, Jimmy Vivino of the Conan O’Brien Show, Paul Shaffer of the David Letterman Show, Evan Dando & The Lemonheads, Donovan, Wilco, The Dixie Hummingbirds, and The Bauls of Bengal.
Garth’s long-awaited first solo CD, The Sea To The North, was released in 2001. Garth co-produced and recorded on Burrito Deluxe’s The Whole Enchilada. He is developing a retrospective box set on Levon and the Hawks, 1956 to 1966, and contributed unheard tracks from his personal vault to Capitol Records’ six-disc The Band: A Musical History box set. Garth and Maud have released their duo CD, LIVE at the WOLF, as well as Garth’s CD of Music For Our Lady Queen Of The Angels. He recently recorded at Daniel Lanois’s Toronto studio for Daniel’s latest album Here Is What Is, as well as appearing in Daniel’s Feature Film of the same name.
Mr. Hudson enjoys producing, composing, arranging and performing with Maud and his eleven-piece band named The Best! He teaches Master Classes when his schedule allows and continues to prepare the syllabus for The GARTH HUDSON Institute featuring his innovative learning methods.
Garth was inducted into the JUNO Hall of Fame (The Band), 1989 • The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (The Band), 1994 • Canada South Blues Society, Lifetime Achievement Award, 2002 • Hamilton Music Scene Award, Instrumentalist of the Year, 2005 • Hamilton Dofasco Lifetime of Achievement Award (The Band), 2007 • Grammy Lifetime of Achievement Award (The Band), 2008.