If you haven’t seen the film Crazy about the life of legendary guitarist, songwriter, and performer Hank Garland, you’re missing a very interesting journey into the music world. Garland may not be a household name in general public quarters, but to serious musicians, Garland is most definitely a legend. The film does an excellent job getting across why he deserves so much praise.
I didn’t even know his name, but my husband, who is a guitarist, did. He enjoyed the film on a different level than I do—playing the guitar is something I can’t do. Garland was born in the small South Carolina town of Cowpens. He was a young boy when he started playing, and by the time he was 18 years old, his “Sugarfoot Rag” instrumental had sold more than a million copies. He recorded or performed with other legends like Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Patsy Cline and many others. The hit song led to Garland’s nickname “Sugarfoot”.
Garland’s career was cut short in his early 30s when he was in a horrific car crash. Some family members have suggested the crash was caused by someone else. Garland was known for bucking the Nashville music establishment, including the union.
Garland ended up living in Orange Park, Florida. I’ve written before about the music legacy of Orange Park, but I didn’t know that’s where he spent much of his life and passed away.
The film does a great job of showing how frustrated an artist can get when he constantly gets the short end of the stick. Garland’s compensation for his work came nowhere close to what he deserved.
For any music enthusiast, the film Crazy is a great experience. It introduced me to an amazingly talented artist whose life was marked by more than his share of tragedy.
You can read more about Garland at the My Les Paul website where there’s a reprint of an article that appeared in Folio Weekly, an alternative left of center publication in Jacksonville, FL. Folio Weekly has for many years done an excellent job of highlighting Jacksonville’s incredible music scene and its arts scene in general.
There’s an in depth biographical piece on Gardner at an Angelfire site, an article reprinted from Guitar Player magazine.
In 2004, the year Hank Garland died, the Florida Times Union ran a feature months before his death.
Several articles about the genius of Hank Garland get into the nitty gritty about suspicious circumstances in the car crash that derailed a career that would have made Garland very wealthy had he been able to do what he intended within the record industry.
Personally, I don’t think much has changed when it comes to the corporate music industry. The film ‘Crazy’ is very informative about what a predatory industry can do to a genius like Hank Garland who fearlessly bucked the establishment for one reason—his passion for music.
(Kay B. Day/Sept. 23, 2019)