In the 1970’s, while in High School in Regina, Sask., I bought a vinyl record of piano songs written and recorded by Hagood Hardy… back in those days, Hagood was a successful Canadian musician who lived in what was then for me; a far, far away place on the other end of the world… Toronto.
Hagood had a radio “hit” with a song called “The Homecoming”, a beautiful piano instrumental and one of the first piano pieces I could play “by heart” at the time. By playing it exactly the way it was on the radio, I could entertain anyone who would listen… that song always made people happy when they recognized it.
In 1985, I moved to Toronto and for no reason that I was consciously aware of, I had the audacity to search out Hagood’s downtown office to leave my demo tape with Frieda, his assistant… I don’t know what I was even hoping for, much less expecting. I really just wanted him to hear that a kid from Saskatchewan could play and write sort of like him, but also; he was the only musician in Toronto, that I felt I “knew” enough to seek out, and at best I just wanted his autograph on my copy of that record.
I followed up by calling Frieda on the phone every week for the first few months – she was always kind, but firm in saying that he had not had a chance to listen, that he was just too busy… so I shifted down to calling once a month, but her story was always the same to the point where her tone was just kind of annoyed, and I stopped calling…
Many more months later, while working in the chaos of Steve’s Music Store, someone called out that the house phone was for me, and straight out of the blue, it was Hagood’s voice…
HH: Scott ?
SG: Yes ?
HH: It’s Hagood Hardy calling
SG: Wow ! Hello !
HH: So I just had a listen to your tape – sounds good – have you had lunch yet ?
HH: There’s this really great deli near you that has the best corned beef in the city – I’ll meet you there at noon ?
SG: Sure !
HH: Ok, see you then.
So straight forward… so direct.
We met at the restaurant and he kept asking what I wanted to do with my recordings, and I explained to him how I wanted to record them with the cutting edge recording gear I had access to over at Steve’s Music Store, and that I was saving the money to do exactly that…
Hagood listened to all my stories over noise of the restaurant, and eventually he just kind of summed things up and said; “So you need the money to get out of Steve’s… I’ll think about this and get back to you soon”.
I really didn’t know what he meant by that, but, ok…. good !
A few days later, again while working the floor at Steve’s, there was a phone call for me, and back out of the blue, it was Hagood calling…
HH: Scott ?
SG: Yes ?
HH: It’s Hagood Hardy
SG: Hello !
HH: So I just had a talk with my accountant, and a partnership thing is going to be too complicated… so the best I can do right now, is co-sign a bank loan for you… is that ok ? Would that get you going ?
SG: uh… sure…
HH: Ok then; there’s a CIBC bank at the corner of Yonge & St. Clair, SW corner – I’ll meet you there tomorrow at noon ?
HH: Ok, see you then.
And he hung up…
The next day, I met Hagood in the bank lobby where he then waited after he introduced me to Byrtie Aire; the bank manager. Byrtie showed me to her office, briefly went over the contract, and eventually asked;
BA: So, how much money do you want to borrow ?
SG: How much ?… how much can I borrow ?
BA: Well, that’s up to you; Hagood just said; ‘give him what ever he needs’. So, what do you need ?
Now, I came in with a very conservative studio rig in mind… and now I’m being told by a downtown Toronto bank manager that I can buy all the gear I needed, to record anything I could possibly think of… so I asked for way more than I needed, (and subsequently borrowed less), but she just wrote the number down, Hagood calmly signed for it, and in doing so he totally changed my world with his ‘autograph’…
What is still difficult for me to reconcile about this experience, is just to know that I didn’t know Hagood Hardy for any more time than it took to finish a corned beef sandwich in a crowded restaurant, but somehow he seemed to know me, and instead of selling keyboards for a living, he set me up to be playing music again full time, and he took me on his concert tours where I would play the orchestra parts behind The Homecoming using the latest (computer) equipment, all purchased from Steve’s with Hagood’s endorsement.
One day, while sitting across from each other in a limousine on the way to a gig, I had a passing conversation with Hagood’s wife; Martha Hardy. She soon connected the dots when we realized that she used to live near, and frequently visited with my grandparents – long before I was born, back when her parent’s and my father’s parents, used to hang out together…
Coincidence ? I think not…
Toronto ON Canada
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