A Phil Brodie Band ~Tribute Page HOME PAGE

USA flag gif

MICHAEL HEDGES.
Composer, Acoustic Guitar & Flute

Born December 31st 1953 - died December 2nd 1997

Michael Hedges is perhaps the most innovative and kinetic acoustic guitarist in the history of the instrument, but he is first and foremost a composer who plays guitar, not a guitarist who plays compositions. His innovative techniques are a means to an end resulting from the demands of his compositions rather than conspicuous attempts at virtuosity. Michael’s embodiment of contemporary composer, innovative guitarist, and flamboyant performer all in one has led to an eclectic style which consistently defies categorization.

Michael Hedges

"If I did have a formula, it would be one more limitation that I would have to deal with, and I'm not in this business to make limitations for myself," he said. "I'm in it to get high. That's what happens to me when I write music." Known for innovations such as simultaneously picking both ends of the guitar, the Grammy nominee described his own music as 'heavy mental', 'acoustic thrash', “violent acoustic' and 'new edge.'

Mike playing alto flute
'94 Michael switched from regular flute to alto flute, [above pic ’95] (photo courtesy Ike Gauley).

WORKED WITH
Bob Dylan
Paul McCartney
John Lennon
Frank Zappa
Neil Young
George Harrison
Elliot Mazer
Steven Miller
Crosby, Stills & Nash
Craig Doerge
Dawn Atkinson
Mike Finnigan
Darol Anger
Steve Miller
Hilleary Burgess
Rob Griffin
Rob Eberhard Young
Leland Sklar
Bill Milkowski
George Winston
George Perry
Mike Mainieri
Michael Landau
Joe Lala
Russ Kunkel
and many more

Mike & Barbara

GUITARS ON TOUR
1971 Martin D-28, nicknamed “Barbara” (since she’s spent so much time in bars), with which he has always toured. The first low-strung guitar Michael toured with was a custom Takamine which they presented to him as a gift with his name on the headstock while on tour in Japan in the late 80s. His favorite, however, is a Lowden L-250, although he has occasionally toured with a Martin J-65M

HARP GUITARS
Michael went through phases with his harp guitars. His first was a 1920’s Dyer configured with a FRAP/autoharp pickup combo. Next, he went to a Steve Klein electric harp guitar with a TransTrem bridge (heard on “Point A” and “Point B”). Then to a black Dyer with a FRAP/autoharp pickup combo—and rattlesnake tail wedged under the sub-basses at headstock (essential for good earth tone!). And finally, back to his first Dyer, but reconfigured with a Sunrise S-1 and two Barcus Berry magnetic pickups for the sub-basses which he glued straight to the body.

1920’s Dyer with a FRAP/autoharp pickup Steve Klein electric harp guitar

above ~ [left] Mike in 1986. [right] Mike in 1994.(photo courtesy Alan Tignanelli).

BIBLIOGRAPHY
Michael Hedges / Rhythm, Sonority, Silence. 1995, Stropes Editions, Ltd. Introduction, auto musical biography and original essays on composition, electronics, and tunings by Michael Hedges. Transcriptions and study notes by John Stropes. Includes “The Naked Stalk”, “Eleven Small Roaches”, “Bensusan”, “Layover”, “Rickover’s Dream”, and “Aerial Boundaries”. Also includes tunings database, discography and explication of notational symbols & competencies.

Individual transcriptions of Michael’s music are also available from Stropes Editions, Ltd. Currently available titles include “Because It’s There”, “Hot Type”, “Ragamuffin”, and “The Happy Couple”.

VIDEOS
Windham Hill in Concert (1986)
The Artist’s Profile: Michael Hedges (1996)

1 hour video The Artist’s Profile: Michael Hedges

SHORT BIOGRAPHY

Michael Hedges began playing guitar and flute as a young man. He attended Phillips University in his hometown of Enid, Oklahoma, where he studied classical guitar and composition. He continued his studies earning a degree in composition from the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. In 1980, he enrolled in Stanford University's renowned electronic music department, and while performing in nearby Palo Alto was spotted by Windham Hill label founder Will Ackerman, who immediately signed him to a contract; Hedges' debut LP, Breakfast in the Field, appeared in 1981.
In the years to follow, Hedges began developing his so-called "man-band" performances, which favored a two-handed tapping style of soloing achieved with the use of a custom-made, double-necked acoustic/bass guitar. His affiliation with Windham Hill prompted many to label him a new age musician, but he bristled at such categorizations and instead offered as "violent acoustic," "heavy mental," "new edge" and "deep-tissue gladiator guitar"; he often flirted with rock and pop, and included in his repertoire acclaimed covers of Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone" and "All Along the Watchtower." With his second album, 1984's Aerial Boundaries, Hedges earned his first Grammy nomination, and with the release of 1985's Watching My Life Go By, Windham Hill agreed to create a subsidiary imprint, Open Air, to further distance his music from the increasing confinements of the new age tag. With 1987's concert LP Live on the Double Planet, Hedges debuted a pair of compositions performed on the rare harp-guitar, and on 1990's Taproot, he delivered his first vocal performance since his 1985 release, Watching My Life Go By. The record was Hedges' last for four years. He abandoned instrumental guitar for a period to perform his own vocal tunes and covers but soon returned to instrumental music and resurfaced with The Road to Return his music was significantly different — vocals were now the rule, not the exception, and in addition to acoustic guitar, he played flute, drums, synthesizer, harmonica and electric guitar. 1996's Oracle signified a return to acoustic performance, but the record was the last to be issued during Hedges' own lifetime — on December 2, 1997, his body was discovered near the wreckage of a car accident just outside of his native Mendocino, California; he was only 43 at the time of his death. His final recording, the acoustic "Java Man," appeared on the 1998 compilation The Sounds of the Wood and Steel. Torched followed a year later.

Micheal Hedges
“I play the guitar because it let’s me dream out loud.”

DISCOGRAPHY

SOLO ALBUMS
Breakfast in the Field (1981)
Aerial Boundaries (1984)
Watching My Life Go By (1985)
Live on the Double Planet (1987)
Taproot (1990)
The Road to Return (1994)
Oracle (1996)
Torched (1999)
The Best of Michael Hedges (2000)

APPEARED ON
Philip Aaberg - Out of the Frame (1979) Guitar
William Ackerman - Past Light (1983) Guitar
William Ackerman - Windham Hill Retrospective (1993) Guitar
David Crosby - Oh Yes I Can (1989) Guitar, Arranger, Vocals, Guitar Arrangements
Crosby, Stills, Nash &... - Crosby, Stills & Nash [Box Set] (1991) Guitar, Vocals (bckgr)
Crosby, Stills & Nash - After the Storm (1994) Guitar (Acoustic)
Bob Dylan - May Your Song Always Be Sung: The... (2003) Guitar
Mike Mainieri - Come Together: Guitar Tribute to... (1995) Guitar, Performer
Michael Manring - Unusual Weather (1986) Guitar
Pat Martino - All Sides Now (1996) Guitar, Drums, Engineer, Shaker, Mixing
Kelly McGillis & Michael... - Santabear's First Christmas (1986) Guitar, Performer
Orgy - Punk Statik Paranoia (2004) Vocals (bckgr)
Shape of the Land -Shape of the Land [Original... Guitar, Performer
Rob Eberhard Young - Sticks & Stones (1997) Guitar, Harp
Original Soundtrack - Winter Solstice on Ice (1999) Arranger, Recorder, Whistle (Human), Producer, Engineer, Performer, Mixing, Harp Guitar, Frame Drum
Various Artists Evening with Windham Hill Live (1982) Guitar, Performer
Various Artists Windham Hill Sampler '82 (1985) Performer
Various Artists Windham Hill Sampler '84 (1985) Performer
Various Artists Windham Hill: Water's Path (1985) Performer
Various Artists Winter's Solstice, Vol. 2 (1986) Arranger, Performer
Various Artists Windham Hill in Concert (1986) Performer
Various Artists Windham Hill Sampler '88 (1988) Producer, Performer
Various Artists Windham Hill: The First Ten Years (1990) Producer, Performer
Various Artists Winter's Solstice, Vol. 3 (1990) Guitar, Arranger, Performer
Various Artists Restore the Shore (1990) Performer
Various Artists Windham Hill Records Guitar... (1991) Guitar (Acoustic), Guitar, Arranger, Producer, Engineer, Performer
Various Artists Windham Hill Sampler '92 (1991) Guitar, Piano, Composer, Producer, Performer
Various Artists Carols of Christmas [Windham Hill] (1996) Guitar, Arranger, Drums, Recorder, Whistle (Human), Whistle (Instrument), Producer, Engineer,
Various Artists Sanctuary: 20 Years of Windham... (1996) Guitar, Producer, Performer
Various Artists Redbook Relaxers: Between Friends (1997) Producer, Performer
Various Artists Redbook Relaxers: Dinner Party (1997) Performer
Various Artists Redbook Relaxers: Lullabies (1997) Producer, Performer
Various Artists Summer Solstice: A Windham Hill... (1997) Synthesizer, Guitar (Acoustic), Flute, Percussion, Producer, Engineer, Performer
Various Artists Winter's Solstice, Vol. 6 (1997) Synthesizer, Guitar, Producer, Engineer, Performer, Mixing
Various Artists Candlelight Moments: Dreamscape (1997) Performer
Various Artists Sounds of Wood and Steel (1998) Guitar, Producer, Engineer, Performer
Various Artists Windham Hill: The Renaissance... (1998) Synthesizer, Bass, Guitar, Percussion, Arranger, Drums, Flute (Alto), Producer, Engineer, Perfor
Various Artists Yoga Zone: Music for Yoga Practice (1998) Performer
Various Artists Here, There and Everywhere: The... (1999) Guitar (Acoustic), Arranger, Producer, Engineer, Performer
Various Artists Live Two (1999) Guitar (Acoustic)
Various Artists Windham Hill Classics: Romance (2000) Performer
Various Artists KKSF 103.7 FM Sampler for AIDS... Performer

SONGS APPEARED ON
Crosby, Stills & Nash Live It Up
Shape of the Land Shape of the Land [Original Soundtrack]
Various Artists Windham Hill Sampler '82
Various Artists Windham Hill Sampler '84
Various Artists Windham Hill Sampler '88
Various Artists Windham Hill Records Guitar Sampler, Vol 2
Various Artists Windham Hill: The First Ten Years
Various Artists Windham Hill: Water's Path
Various Artists Evening with Windham Hill Live
Various Artists Windham Hill Sampler '92
Various Artists Windham Hill in Concert
Crosby, Stills & Nash After the Storm
Various Artists Sanctuary: 20 Years of Windham Hill
Various Artists Redbook Relaxers: Between Friends
Various Artists Redbook Relaxers: Dinner Party
Various Artists Redbook Relaxers: Lullabies
Various Artists Restore the Shore
Various Artists Summer Solstice: A Windham Hill Collect
Various Artists Winter's Solstice, Vol. 6
Pat Martino All Sides Now
Various Artists Candlelight Moments: Dreamscape
Various Artists Sounds of Wood and Steel
Various Artists Yoga Zone: Music for Yoga Practice
Nancy Zeltsman Woodcuts
Various Artists Redbook: Lullabies
Various Artists Touch: Windham Hill 25 Years of Guitar
Various Artists Live Two
Various Artists Windham Hill Chill: Ambient Acoustic

A Final Bow
“You can’t make your music good. You can’t try to be good. You can try to be present and you can try to remain open, so what is going to speak to you ~ can speak through you.”

A fund for his two children has been set up. Hedges did not have an insurance policy, so any extra money would be a boon to them. Please send donations to:
Children of Michael Hedges
c/o Bank of America
228 Main St.
Fort Bragg, CA 95437

 back to musician index