Keyboard player and singer Eddie Hardin has died suddenly at the age of just 66. Eddie’s connections with the Deep Purple scene spanned some 45 years, and he worked with members of the group directly across much of that time. After a spell as a teenager replacing Steve Winwood in the Spencer Davis Group with Ray Fenwick (not an easy task) they did some interesting if often overlooked work in the late Sixties for Vertigo. After a couple of album, Eddie went off to form what seems an unlikely drum / keyboard duo, Hardin – York, with drummer Pete York in 1969. They became one of the most successful bands in Germany during the early 1970s and also supported Deep Purple on a couple of tours (check out the poster for a big 1970 German festival below), both joining Jon Lord and Ian Paice at occasional jam nights in London (while Pete joined forces with Ian on drum duels at some live Hardin – York shows).
Eddie got bored repeating himself musically, and despite playing stadiums in Europe, back in the UK Hardin – York couldn’t get arrested. So after a couple of years he went off to do his own thing and Roger Glover worked with Eddie on a couple of his post-Hardin – York solo albums and the pair were heavily involved in the original Wizard’s Convention studio project in 1976, along with Jon, David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes. Eddie became a big contributor to Roger’s Butterfly Ball project too, co-writing Love Is All and performing on the album (mainly keyboards but also vocals on one track), then playing keyboards at the one-off Albert Hall concert where I first saw him live.
It was a nice touch to see Eddie invited to be part of the fabulous Deep Purple Concerto evenings at the Royal Albert Hall in 1999 when he and Roger did Love Is All, along with Ronnie Dio and Mickey Lee Soule.
I got to know Eddie in the early Nineties when our label RPM worked closely with him on the first in-depth reissues of some of his back-catalogue including the Hardin York material, the Spencer Davis Group albums and other odds and ends which he kept turning up, amazed that anyone was interested really! Indeed to a certain extent that seemed to be how he viewed his career at times, happy to have the success when it came but with an easy come easy go approach to the music business in general. A typical example was a pile of postcards showing a palatial stately house which I spotted on one visit, and wondered why he had them. It turned out he’d bought the place with some unexpectedly large royalty cheques in the 70s, then had the cards made to send to friends. All too quickly he realised that he couldn’t afford to run or staff the place, and it had to go! Eddie did have his autobiography ALAB published a few years ago, and the house features on the front.
Apart from the stuff you probably know about (and people of a certain age mustn’t forget the theme tune to Magpie which Eddie co-wrote), do check out the early Hardin – York material, especially if you enjoy strong and inventive Hammond playing. It was a time when rock music experimented in all sorts of ways and Eddie was in the thick of it. And why on earth Catch You On The Rebop (on which Eddie again shares a writing credit) wasn’t a massive hit for Spencer Davis in 1973 must remain one of life’s great mysteries.