Garth Hudson of The Band Not Forgotten During Difficult Time
- Garth Hudson was The Band’s multi-instrumentalist, who is sometimes overlooked compared to the other members of the influential group.
- Garth Hudson’s wife and fellow performer “Sister” Maud Hudson recently passed away on February 27th.
- According to sources close to Garth Hudson, ongoing letter writing campaigns sharing Garth’s current address publicly are being discouraged. Garth is an “incredibly private” person, and “doesn’t want to be flooded with cards and letters.”
From country to Americana, to folk and classic rock, from Canada to the United States and around the world, everybody knows and loves The Band, and their influence and appeal is stratified across genres and continents. Most all of us also know about the legend of Levon Helm—The Band’s drummer and often lead singer, as well as Robbie Robertson, the band’s lead guitar player and primary songwriter.
But along with Robertson, there is another surviving member of The Band, and one who is commonly and criminally overlooked when it comes to the Canadian group’s legacy. All of the members of The Band played an indelible part in making them one of the most influential groups in popular music, and eventually put them in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Their interconnectivity was one of the things that was so cool about them. That includes piano player and singer Richard Manuel who died in 1986, and bassist Rick Danko who died in 1999. Levon Helm passed away in 2012.
Along with Robbie Robertson, keyboardist, saxophonist, and accordion player Garth Hudson is still around too. He’s the one in all the old photos of The Band with the bushy beard. He was also arguably the most skilled and versatile musician of the lot of great musicians, and contributed greatly to the unique sounds and approach of the group.
Those cool frog croaking sounds you hear on the band’s iconic “Up On Cripple Creek”? That was Garth Hudson playing a clavinet through a wah-wah pedal. The mournful sax moans on “Tears of Rage”? That was Garth’s work too. All the brass and woodwinds you hear on the iconic “Ophelia”? That was all Garth Hudson. All of it. He could play just about everything, and did.
But some artists are better at selling themselves and their legacies than others, and some tend to blend into the background, even if their contributions are foisted to the forefront. Such is the case for the 84-year-old Garth Hudson. But over the last few days, folks have been taking to social media to remember one of the last living members of The Band, and for multiple reasons.
First, foremost, and sadly, Garth Hudson’s wife, “Sister” Maud Hudson—who was a singer herself as well as an actress—passed away on February 27th in a sad development in The Band’s sphere of influence. Performing with her husband as a duo, Maud was raised in Los Angeles where she met Garth. Over her career, Maud Hudson sang and recorded with the likes of Dr. John, Norah Jones, Cyndi Lauper, Albert Collins, along with many others, including, of course, The Band.
Even as Maud was ailing in recent years and wheelchair bound, she and Garth still performed as a duo. The death of Sister Maud Hudson comes at a time when some friends and fans of The Band were circulating an effort via social media for people to send personal letters to Garth Hudson. Two separate screenshots of social media posts said Garth was feeling forgotten, and gave addresses for fans to write letters to let him know otherwise.
However, as Saving Country Music worked to verify the addresses of the social media posts and the current status of Garth Hudson, representatives for the 84-year-old say the effort isn’t warranted, and sharing his address publicly is against Garth’s wishes. Attorney George T. Gilbert, who is providing legal assistance to Hudson and visited with him as recently as Sunday, Feb. 27th with other close friends said the posts were “well meaning,” but needed to be taken down.
“Garth is an incredibly private person, and the last thing he wants is that kind of attention, and he doesn’t want to be flooded with cards and letters…” says Gilbert.
It appears the campaign started with a post on Facebook on January 27th by an individual concerned about Garth Hudson who had visited him recently. That individual, James Noon Sr., did not give out Garth’s direct address, but his own address for people to send cards and letters to, that he could subsequently take and deliver to Garth. Saving Country Music has confirmed that James Noon Sr. is no longer accepting those cards and letters, even though a screenshot of his request continues to be shared.
That initial post then led to another unattributed screenshot of another Facebook comment that gives Garth Hudson’s current location and address, which others then transcribed directly—including some members of the media and high profile music personalities—sharing this private information without Garth’s permission, or the permission of his representatives. As well meaning as it all might have been initially, the writing of letters to Garth Hudson, and the sharing of his personal address is being discouraged henceforth.
Saving Country Music is not able to independently confirm the current conditions in which Garth Hudson is living in, and at one point he may have communicated he did feel abandoned or forgotten to somebody, which is not uncommon for elder individuals. But according to multiple sources, Garth Hudson is currently being well cared for, and receives regular visitation.
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Born in Windsor, Canada, both of Garth Hudson’s parents were musicians as well, and he was classically trained from an early age on multiple instruments. Young Garth played organ at the local church and at his uncle’s funeral parlor, and by the age of 12 he was performing professionally. After attending the University of Western Ontario, Hudson joined a band called The Silhouettes, which morphed into a band called Paul London and the Kapers.
It was at a Kapers show in 1961 that Ronnie Hawkins and Levon Helm approached Garth Hudson to join The Hawks band backing up the rockabilly legend, but Hudson refused. Considering himself too good to join a rag tag rock n’ roll band and worried what his parents would think, Hudson held out for six months as Ronnie and Levon continued to nag him, until he finally agreed to become a Hawk under a few conditions: they had to buy him a Lowrey Organ as opposed to the standard Hammond models that were mostly used at the time, and they had to pay him $10 extra a week to give the rest of the band members weekly music lessons.
Of course from there what became known as The Band reconfigured the future of music in North America, backing Bob Dylan in the Blonde on Blonde era, including the notorious “electric” tour in 1966 when Dylan eschewed his acoustic folk past, and into 1968 when The Band recorded their first album Music From Big Pink.
Garth Hudson remained a full time member of the group all the way through to their final concert, memorialized on Thanksgiving Day, 1976 at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco by Martin Scorsese in the film The Last Waltz. Later iterations of the band sans Robbie Robertson also included Hudson in the lineup.
Garth Hudson later had a solo career, though it started off somewhat unfortunately as he released his first solo album called The Sea to The North on September 11th, 2001. He later created a reboot of the Flying Burrito Brothers with pedal steel player “Sneaky Pete” Kleinow called Burrito Deluxe, and worked as an in-demand session musician for many years. In 2010 Hudson helped assemble a tribute to The Band compiled solely of Canadian artists with Neil Young, Bruce Cockburn, The Cowboy Junkies, The Sadies, and more participating.
A member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Juno’s Canadian Hall of Fame, and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winner in 2008, it’s hard to argue that Garth Hudson has been forgotten. But with so much else going on, and the isolation bred over the last couple of years, that sure is how many of us can feel at times.
Many consider The Band the first Americana group. The way they integrated country, folk, and rock influences together make them a primary influence on just about all the performers that came after, with Garth Hudson unquestionably being the integral multi instrumentalist of the legendary lineup.
Forgotten? Maybe in the fickle mindset of the busy masses. But for folks in-the-know, they know the memory of Garth Hudson will never be erased. And even if sending him letters is being discouraged, sharing his legacy, and the memories he’s made for fans never should be.
March 3, 2022 @ 10:14 am
Garth Hudson,like this handsome ol’ boy,was born in Windsor,Ont.,Can.,but unlike Yours Truly,he left as an infant.
March 3, 2022 @ 2:44 pm
Never heard of him
March 3, 2022 @ 6:40 pm
Please do yourself the favor and please investigate this music of The Band . Garth Hudson is the most accomplished musician in the group of amazing musicians . If nothing else, start with Lukas Nelson ,Jamie Johnson & Warren Hayes on the Last Waltz Remberance tour in 2019. Then go back to catch up on 55 plus years of The Band , Garth & dear Sister Maud ‘s solo work !
May 22, 2022 @ 2:55 pm
And who are you!!
July 3, 2022 @ 10:09 pm
I bought Garth a Hudson tartan t shirt and cards. One in the MacDonald tartan in the shape of Scotland. It came from the heart. J meant not intrusion. Now I feel duped and hurt that Garth would not want it. I wanted him to know he is not forgotten here in Scotland
December 24, 2022 @ 8:28 am
The finest musician of the rock era ! Nobody comes close to Garth’s musicality ..Nobody .. Thinking of you Mr Hudson on this Christmas eve .from Scotland …
September 20, 2022 @ 11:00 am
March 3, 2022 @ 10:15 am
Sorry about the loss of your wife,Garth.
March 3, 2022 @ 10:23 am
The record label that still sells TheBand’s music should offer to assign someone–maybe a couple of interns–to take hold of Garth Hudson’s incoming fan mail and send out short responses, since Garth does not want to deal with it, at this point in his life.
March 3, 2022 @ 10:45 am
I’m not sure I would want to characterize that he doesn’t want to deal with fan mail. I’d say he doesn’t want his private address out there and to be flooded by letters and cards that he then might feel obligated to respond to, and may not want to be doted on. It is going to be a mess for the next couple of weeks because these screenshots and posts encouraging people to send letters are all over the place, and of course, corrections and clarifications never receive the same traction.
March 3, 2022 @ 1:52 pm
Probably not just letters and cards, he might be concerned some ‘well-meaning fans’ will take it upon themselves to show up at his door. There are too many folks that don’t understand the meaning of boundries when it comes to public figures.
March 3, 2022 @ 10:35 am
That second album remains unmatchable by any standard
March 3, 2022 @ 11:14 am
He was the best musician in a band of great musicians.
March 3, 2022 @ 11:20 am
I’ve seen The Last Waltz several times. I specifically remember (I think) all the band members answering questions in the movie. Except for Garth. So his being a private person fits. I hope he is well and remains so.
December 29, 2022 @ 7:55 am
There is a brief interview with Garth in the film but yeah he’s a quiet one
March 3, 2022 @ 1:28 pm
I never realized he was “forgotten” because he has continued to contribute to so many projects besides The Band. I thought this was going to be an obituary so glad to hear he is still kicking.
March 3, 2022 @ 2:43 pm
Sorry for your loss Garth
March 3, 2022 @ 3:05 pm
One of my high school buddies,the late Windsor guitar god Rob Borrink,jammed with Garth and the guys in Toronto in the early 70’s.
March 4, 2022 @ 2:57 am
One of my kindergarten classmates maid, cleaned the house down the street from garth’s house…..
March 3, 2022 @ 3:23 pm
I met Garth mid 2000s when he toured with Burrito Deluxe. I went to the show for two reasons. First was to meet Sneaky Pete Kleinow, and second,meet Garth Hudson. It was a tiny venue and felt like having them in a living room. Killer music! Sneaky Pete was great, he played that pedal steel as good as he always had. He was looking old though. In fact he died a year later I recall. Garth Hudson was very jovial and quite willing to shake hands and chat. I was with a few friends and we kept it simple, just complimented him, I think we asked what it felt like playing onstage at Woodstock, and he smiled and I can’t recall his answer unfortunately. But he didn’t come across as shy or reluctant to meet people, in fact he posed for pictures. He had an electric piano with him, and he mentioned he had used this particular one with The Band! Well we got to hear him play The Weight that night. Quite a memory, and I left going, man did that just happen?
March 3, 2022 @ 6:13 pm
There’s not a day goes by that I don’t think of Garth , Levon, Richard and Rick . I shave my whiskers to their music, and drive through the mine repairing equipment with them vibrating the ground beneath my feet . Garth good sir, you will never be forgotten. I grew up to you and your band mates . Know that although this life is fleeting , that life itself is eternal , and you and Sister Maud, will one day likely waltz together on creaky floorboards of some quiet country home once again and perhaps for all eternity. Or until your feet grow tired, or the record starts to skip . Know you’re loved , and thank you from the bottom of my heart, for all that you’ve done.
March 3, 2022 @ 9:31 pm
You are a beautiful writer, sir.
Dead Southern Blake
March 3, 2022 @ 7:00 pm
I’m not sure if it’s true or not but I do remember reading back a year or so ago that Bob Dylan had personally got Garth and his wife set up in a comfortable apartment. This come after it was reported Garth had lost his home or was having some hard times. I could see it being possible with their history and Bob would probably be in the position to help out a friend in need. It’s a shame Levon, Rick, Garth, & Richard didn’t seem to get their fair share of the pie when it comes to publishing royalties and songwriting credit. Or so four out of five members claimed
March 4, 2022 @ 5:50 am
An unparalleled musician in an unparalleled band. The guys called Garth Honey Boy because he sweetened up the music after they had left for the day. Unfortunately, one particular person never quite gave Garth the credit he deserved. Garth just wanted to play, and play he did!
March 4, 2022 @ 9:14 am
You can’t call yourself a music fan until you listen to The Band’s versions of “Atlantic City” and “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.”
March 7, 2022 @ 7:39 pm
I appreciate very few Springsteen covers, but their version of Atlantic City is righteously superb.
March 4, 2022 @ 12:42 pm
I really don’t know how many times I’ve watched The Last Waltz.. Highly recommend. It really contains a huge piece of music history and shows the respect that band had from other artists
The Band joined by more than a dozen special guests, including their previous employers Ronnie Hawkins and Bob Dylan, as well as Paul Butterfield, Bobby Charles, Eric Clapton, Neil Diamond, Dr. John, Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison, Ringo Starr, Muddy Waters, Ronnie Wood, and Neil Young
March 4, 2022 @ 1:11 pm
D**m skippy,Country Knight,though I’m also partial to “The Weight ” and “Up On Cripple Creek.”
March 6, 2022 @ 4:22 am
Garth is also a blues man . He played on muddy waters at Woodstock album. You can here a strong blues line on all his work with the band. Garth we all love you and thank you for all the joy you have brought us through your beautiful playing.
March 6, 2022 @ 2:25 pm
The Band were my number one Band. I heard Big Pink the night it was released on WBAi in New York with Steve Post. I had loved them with Bob Dylan before I even knew who they were. Garth Hudson was my idol and inspiration and remains to be one of my greatest influences as a musician.
March 7, 2022 @ 3:53 pm
Dear Garth , Please accept our sincere condolences on the passing of your wife Maud . I hope you know we are all with you and that you always be the glue and genius behind each THE BAND Lp . I last saw you at Infinity hall with Jimmy and at the barn some years ago . We always enjoy your playing and musical masterworks . Keep on making it happen . Stay well my friend .
March 31, 2022 @ 9:14 pm
I remember Garth coming to the house for dinner in 1969. He was grabbing a flight to the UK after dinner, probably for the Isle of Wight festival. I was about seven years old and he seemed so tall when I met him.
Garth and my dad went to school together in London, Ont. and have remained life long friends. I think the last time they got together was 2013. Garth even thanked my dad during his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame speech. A very nice man.
So sorry to hear about Maud’s passing. I’ll have to let my dad know.
July 3, 2022 @ 10:18 pm
I feel duped and hurt now that I could have upset Garth.
From Ayrshire, Scotland, I bought him a Hudson tartan coaster and got a card made in the shape of Scotland with the affiliated MacDonald tartan plus another card.
I meant no intrusion and would never expect a return. I just wanted him to know he is most certainly not forgotten here in Scotland. I hope he got my card. It was genuine and came from thd heart. Never to intrude. I know he was more shy than the others in the Band. I got the address on Instagram where im, @lizziethistle. Youll see my f shirts znd loads of band music plus animal rescue.
Garth, im sorry for the intrusion. I really do hope you get my genuine gift
September 14, 2022 @ 1:47 am
I went to high school with Garth. He was 3 yrs. ahead of me but we were both in a group called the ‘sixteen’ under the direction of Alex Clark ( our music teacher at Medway High School). He thanked Mr. Clark in his speech when he was inducted to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. I remember going to hear Ronnie Hawkins at the Brass Rail in London, Ont. before The Band formed. I recently read where Garth is now being cared for in upstate New York. Blessings to him for all the joy he has brought to people over the years.
September 22, 2022 @ 11:00 am
I always thought that Garth and Levon were the rocks that kept the roll going for The Band. “Rock of Ages” is my go to album when I feel like I am on unsteady ground. Thank you as I have been escaping to your rock since the 60’s. Because of that, at 72 I’m still standing. Much love. Sammy
January 28, 2023 @ 8:33 pm
HOPE YOU’RE WELL,
January 31, 2023 @ 9:39 am
Garth, Just saw that Maud passed last year and felt so sorry that I had not kept in touch better. I tried to find her on Facebook last year and saw several accounts, but no recent posts, so I didn’t reach out. Just hoping you are doing well and if you want to reach out, I would love to hear from you.
Michelle Heald Zenz
February 4, 2023 @ 5:51 pm
You always was and still are “the music teacher”