John Hiatt Biography

20 August 1952, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA. The archetypal musicians’ musician, John Hiatt is a powerful singer, guitarist and talented songwriter whose material has been recorded by various acts, including Dr. Feelgood, Searchers, Iggy Pop, Three Dog Night, Desert Rose Band, Bonnie Raitt, Bob Dylan, Nick Lowe, Rick Nelson and the Neville Brothers. Hiatt started out in local R&B bands in the late 60s, most notably the White Ducks. Moving to Nashville in 1970, he signed to Epic and recorded two highly acclaimed albums. After the second album, he left the label and toured for a spell as a solo performer before being offered a new contract by MCA at the end of the decade. This resulted in two further albums.

In 1980, guitarist Ry Cooder was looking for some new songs and was recommended Hiatt’s material. Cooder received a tape of demos from Hiatt’s publisher, and although he was not convinced the material was suitable for him, he decided he could use the talented guitarist in his own band. Hiatt duly accepted Cooder’s offer and played with him on Borderline and on several subsequent albums and tours. His first solo album after his engagements with Cooder was 1982’s All Of A Sudden and it was followed by almost one new album every year produced by Tony Visconti and Nick Lowe. Lowe regularly formed part of Hiatt’s band both in the studio and on tour. The duo later became half of a new ‘supergroup’ when they teamed up with Cooder and Jim Keltner (veteran journeyman drummer) to form Little Village, who released their first disappointing self-titled album in 1992.

Since then Hiatt’s reputation as a songwriter has grown and his own output has included some of his best work; the title tracks to Perfectly Good Guitar (1993) and Walk On (1995) are two of his most infectious songs. Equally arresting was 2000’s Crossing Muddy Waters on which Hiatt was supported by some excellent musicians, most notably David Immerglück. Hiatt’s music walks a fine line between country and folk, but he comfortably fits in the middle to create a genre of music which is entirely his own.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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