Bob Hardaway

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Not that this artist isn't pretty cool; far from it. Credited either as Bob Hardaway or Robert Hardaway, he spent much of the 20th century at the top of the studio musician scene in Los Angeles, playing…
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Artist Biography by

Not that this artist isn't pretty cool; far from it. Credited either as Bob Hardaway or Robert Hardaway, he spent much of the 20th century at the top of the studio musician scene in Los Angeles, playing a bewildering array of woodwind instruments -- even bass clarinet, English horn, and alto flute -- on a tall stack of records that stylistically give the impression of having been snatched at random out of a burning used record store, the Partridge Family, Dinah Washington, Bonnie Raitt, and his efforts with the Eddie Shu/Bob Hardaway Jazz Practitioners among them. Even factoring in his marriage to singer Pinky Winters, however, Hardaway still would have to admit he never did anything as cool as his father, who earned the nickname of J.B. "Bugs" Hardaway by actually inventing the characters of Bugs Bunny and Woody Woodpecker.

The reedman's Hollywood background also includes early coaching from film composer Darrell Caulkner. As an instrumentalist, Hardaway learned many fundamentals in his Air Force band, an experience that actually inspired him to write music for a touring show, Air Force Frolics, which he also conducted and which hopefully did not include the synchronized bombing of villages. After military service he returned to college in Los Angeles, then began a career as a big-band section player in reliable outfits such of that of Ray McKinley. It was Billy May who came through with the first recorded solo opportunity for Hardaway on a Capitol album promising an instrumental Bachanalia.

Hardaway's presence as a soloist was furthermore boosted on a mid-'50s series of Decca sides by bandleader Jerry Gray, among the features being the reliable "Thou Swell," the gentle "Baby's Lullaby," and a pounding "Kettle Drum." Many bandleaders liked what they heard and Hardaway thus kept a busy datebook. He had the first saxophone chair in the Woody Herman band in 1956 and also performed and recorded with big-band maestros Stan Kenton, Les Elgart, Benny Goodman, Alvino Rey, and Med Flory, among others. Once again, material originally cut for the Capitol label is among the documentation of the Herman connection, Hardaway really showing that he can lay down a Blues Groove.

I'm Glad You're Here with Me Tonight
Jazz discographies alone pile up nearly 75 recording sessions involving Hardaway between 1949 and 1995. In addition, there were many vocalists and vocal groups outside of that genre with which he recorded, usually in the company of A-list session players such as bassist Carol Kaye. Hardaway plays on Lulu and Bonnie Raitt efforts from the early '70s and the 1977 Neil Diamond album in which the title admits I'm Glad You're Here with Me Tonight, all the while keeping his jazz chops in line for modern big-band projects such as Introducing Roger Neumann's Rather Large Band in 1983. Other singer/songwriter and celebrity cults that can claim Hardaway as one of their own, or at the very least as a member in good standing, include Harry Nilsson and Doris Day.