"How you feeling?" screams Hirsh Gardner to 20,000 fans at Madison Square Garden. "Are you ready to rock with me?"
It was a long journey from a small Canadian town to the top of the rock and roll heap, but one the mop top drummer and vocalist takes great pride in.
" I started pretty young. Elvis, The Beatles, jazz records that my Mom and Dad had, Buddy Rich and other jazz greats. Most of the kids liked the guitarists. I always loved the drummer. He was raw emotion, he was physical, he was hot and sweaty, he was the backbone of any group…he was the guy who got the audience to their feet," says Gardner.
Upon journeying to Boston from the great white north, Gardner played in various groups including Fatback, Berkshire and Target, in which he hooked up with the other future New England members. There was a magical chemistry within the group and during endless hours rehearsing they refined their sound. The five-some stripped down to a quartet and changed their name to New England. Rather than play the local club circuit as they had done before, the band worked day and night in their rehearsal space putting together a show that would highlight the strength of each band member and would play to an arena audience, both musically and visually.
A showcase for Bill Aucion, Kiss' legendary manager, brought the band to the attention of numerous major labels. After a bidding frenzy, the group signed with Infinity/MCA and Paul Stanley produced their debut album. The disc included the John Fannon-penned classic "Don't Ever Wanna Lose Ya". Primed and ready for action the band set off to tour with Kiss, AC/DC, Journey, Styx and others. The band recorded two more albums, Explorer Suite and Walking Wild, produced by Mike Stone and Todd Rundgren respectively.
After New England broke up in 1983, Gardner received a call from an old friend Gene Simmons, the tongued wonder of Kiss, who turned Hirsh onto Vinnie Vincent. Together with bandmates Jimmy Waldo and Gary Shea they put together the group Warrior in Los Angeles. Just prior to the band being signed to a major label deal Vinnie got the offer to join Kiss. Hirsh left L.A. for his home in Boston and began producing numerous acts in the northeast. His experience working with producers Mike Stone, Paul Stanley and Todd Rundgren would prove to be a tremendous tool in his own celebrated producing career.
It was a great education. They all taught me aspects of recording and performing that I have used ever since" notes Gardner. The education paid dividends for Gardner, who was nominated for Boston Music Awards Producer of the Year 5 times, voted Producer of the Year for the Boston Phoenix Best Poll, and was sought out by numerous record companies to produce acts like Mass, Axminster, Shyboy, 8084 and Vice.
With all his production work Gardner took a break from being an artist. He may never had returned to being a solo performer had it not been for the response from fans on the world wide web. In 1998 GB Music released the New England catalogue on CD. Fans flocked to the New England web site...the response was tremendous. The emails poured in, most people asking if there would be new music in the future.
Hirsh released his first solo album on GB Music in the USA, Marquee Avalon in Japan and MTM in Europe. The album was well recieved worldwide and has inspired Hirsh to get back in the studio. He is currently mixing the new WILLIE NILE album, "House Of 1000 Guitars" to be released in early 2009.