My first decade with Michael Hedges

by | Sep 15, 2021

Sep 15, 2021

Michael and I first met in 1969 when I was a senior in high school, and he was a sophomore.

We co-hosted the school talent show and performed a few songs together and found that we complimented each other perfectly. After much rehearsal we started playing in coffee shops as an acoustic duo and even got paid a few times.

During our years studying at Phillips University together we formed a rock band. Struggling for a name—and at odds about which name should come first, Record or Hedges—we settled on “Rocky and Friends.” Rocky was my Irish Setter that attended all of our shows. The band had a progressive rock style and we played a few originals in each set.

Michael was starting to write instrumental pieces for solo acoustic guitar and half way through each performance the band would take a break and Michael would play his latest compositions for the crowd. We worked up the entire side B of the Beatles’ Abbey Road album as a medley.

I recall many times Michael excitedly coming in to my house with his guitar saying, “Here’s a new one!”

– Don Record

Michael sitting on steps at home in Enid

As both of us were starting to write more songs we challenged each other and were anxious to get each other’s input and even co-wrote several tunes.

I recall many times Michael excitedly coming in to my house with his guitar and saying, “Here’s a new one!” I was continually blown away at the way each song was better and more intricate than the last, and watched with amazement as his guitar tunings became more and more complex.

Michael once told me that his goal was to get as much sound out of his Martin D-28 sound hole as was physically and musically possible. That’s when he started incorporating slapping and harmonics into his performance with an almost magical sound that replicated more than just one person playing.

Michael & Donnie on stage playing instruments

About the same time Michael moved to Baltimore, Maryland to attend Peabody Institute, I moved to Sweden.

While I was in Sweden, we continued to communicate and recorded together by sending tapes back and forth to add instrumental parts and vocal harmonies. I gained moderate success recording for the Swedish TV and Radio Broadcasting Corporation (Sveriges Radio). I flew back and forth many times and always stopped over in Baltimore for a month to hang out with Michael and perform with him at the local bars and music venues.

 

On one memorable trip to the U.S. I brought with me my studio band consisting of a cellist and violinist.

In 1979 we both returned to Oklahoma where I was asked by an Oklahoma City radio station, KATT to perform for a show called “Homegrown” that featured local singer/songwriters and was broadcast live from a fantastic recording studio, Media Sound Studios in Oklahoma City.

Michael and I threw together our old mates to form a band and recorded 14 originals.

After the great recording and its single radio broadcast we both went about our ways as Michael moved to Palo Alto, California to attend Stanford electronic music studies and I moved to Vail, Colorado to live and perform in the ski resort as a solo act for years.

The master tape of the radio broadcast was lost although we tried to find it for years. The tape surfaced recently in Los Angeles as the sound engineer had held on to it for over 4 decades.

The sound of the recordings still holds up and has survived the years with a surprisingly fresh feel.

 

Band posing together with instruments

 A NOTE FROM TAPROOT – Stay tuned for an upcoming release of this recording!

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