Aspen, Colorado’s John Studebaker Hardy learned piano from his classically trained father, but he first picked up guitar with rebellion in mind. After forming both the Satans and the Hard Tymes with his brothers during high school, Hardy found himself at the Hart College of Music in Connecticut. Hardy would reconvene with his brothers in Boston, unlearning his schooling in bar bands, before one brother joined the Navy and was killed in action in 1968.
An already vehemently anti-war Hardy had been personally struck. The campus paper, run by Hardy, went radical under his tutelage. His first brush with infamy came with his conviction for libel against President Nixon, due to a political cartoon he published. Continuing to perform, Hardy allowed his songwriting a naturally political bent. His first album, an amateur concern recorded and self-released in 1970, was quickly disowned. Hardy’s return to Colorado predated the arrival of Jim Ransom’s Biscuit City label, forcing him to seek gigs as far east as Nashville and Pittsburgh, where he met Maggie and Terre Roche. That relationship led to his settling in New York where he formed the Fast Folk Collective, rebuilding the dying Greenwich Village scene from the ground up and making a name for himself. 1976’s Mirror of My Madness, recorded and pressed on a shoestring budget with no cover art and only a dittoed lyric sheet included, was sold exclusively at shows to meet the demands of his growing cadre of fans. “The Tailor” is set in a classic story-song mode, with Hardy’s gruff vocals backed only by Terre and Suzzy Roche’s angelic harmonies. From these humble beginnings, Hardy’s recording career bloomed.