John Hiatt

Induction Year: 2008

Birth Name: John Robert Hiatt

Birth Date: 08-20-1952

Place of Birth: Indianapolis, Indiana

John Hiatt was one of seven children born to working-class parents who had a volatile, unhappy marriage. When Hiatt was nine, his older brother Michael, whom he worshipped, committed suicide. Two years later, Hiatt's dad died. Hiatt, who later called himself "a screwed-up Catholic fat kid," found escape from all this trouble and tragedy in music, especially the sounds of heroes like Bob Dylan, Muddy Waters and Elvis Presley. At 11, he got his first guitar and began an enthusiastic music apprenticeship involving garage bands, school dances and songwriting. Along with it came an equal enthusiasm for drink and drugs.

In some ways, Hiatt's apprenticeship would continue for two more decades. When he was 19, he quit school, moved to Nashville and got a publishing deal, writing songs for $25 a week for Tree International. He wasn't successful, but he honed his craft, and it led to the first of several record deals. Stints at Epic, MCA and Geffen produced a string of taut, angst-driven solo rock albums, with uniformly poor sales. One of his early songs, "Sure As I'm Sitting Here," became a hit for Three Dog Night and hinted at what would later bloom into a side career as a hit-writer-for-hire.

In the late 1970s, Hiatt moved to Los Angeles and joined Ry Cooder's band. There he continued to release near-miss solo records and landed a few stray covers by the likes of Ricky Nelson and Rosanne Cash. By the mid-1980s, Hiatt's perpetual also-ran status found him sinking deep in addiction to booze and cocaine.

He entered rehab in 1984, got clean and re-emerged in 1987 with Bring the Family, the record which finally brought some long overdue recognition, thanks to emotionally expressive songs like "Thing Called Love" and "Have a Little Faith in Me." As his solo career thrived with rootsy, R&B-tinged rock albums like Slow Turning and Perfectly Good Guitar, his songs were covered by a stellar list of artists, including Bonnie Raitt, Bob Dylan, Iggy Pop, Joe Cocker, Emmylou Harris, Buddy Guy, Willie Nelson and Ronnie Milsap.

The 1990s and 2000s have seen Hiatt touring and making records, while branching out into bluegrass, folk, television (HBO's Treme) and motion pictures (voicing an animated character in Disney's Country Bears). In 2012, he released his twenty-first solo album, Mystic Pinball. He lives on a 100-acre farm outside of Nashville.

"Across the Borderline"

(written with Ry Cooder, Jim Dickinson)

Freddy Fender1982 
Ry Cooder1987 
Flaco Jimenez1991 
Willie Nelson1993 
Jim Dickinson1997 
Ruben Blades1998 
Willy DeVille2001 

"Angel Eyes"

(written with Fred Koller)

The Jeff Healy Band1989 #5 pop
New Grass Revival1989 

"Bring Back Your Love to Me"

John Hiatt1990 
Earl Thomas Conley1990 #11 country

"Drive South"

John Hiatt1988 
Bellamy Brothers & Forester Sisters1990 #63 country
Kelly Willis1990 
Suzy Bogguss1993 #2 country

"Feels Like Rain"

John Hiatt1988 
Buddy Guy1993 

"Have a Little Faith in Me"

John Hiatt1987 
Bill Frisell1991 
Delbert McClinton1992 
Joe Cocker1994 
Chris Farlowe1996 
Kenny Rogers1997 
Ilse DeLang1999 
Chaka Khan2000 
Patty Larkin2000 
Bon Jovi2003 
Mandy Moore2003 
Michael English2008 

"Heavy Tears"

Conway Twitty1979 

"I Look for Love"

Rosanne Cash1982 
John Hiatt1982 

"Icy Blue Heart"

John Hiatt1988 
Emmylou Harris1989 
Linda Ronstadt1998 

"It Hasn't Happened Yet"

John Hiatt1980 
Rosanne Cash1983 #14 country

"Lovin' a Hurricane"

Suzy Bogguss1992 
John Hiatt1993 

"Memphis in the Meantime"

John Hiatt1987 
Chris Smither1993 
Gregg Allman1997 
Sam Bush2000 
Carl Perkins2004 

"Old Habits Are Hard to Break"

(written with Marshall Chapman)

Ronnie Milsap1991 
John Hiatt1993 
Irma Thomas2000 

"One Step Over the Line"

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band & John Hiatt1990 #63 country

"Paper Thin"

John Hiatt1988 
Buddy & Julie Miller2003 

"Pink Bedroom"

John Hiatt1980 
Albert Lee1982 
Rosanne Cash1985 
Lou Ann Barton1986 

"Radio Girl"

John Hiatt1979 
Rick Nelson1981 
Albert Lee1982 
Marshall Crenshaw1989 

"Riding with the King"

John Hiatt1983 
B. B. King & Eric Clapton2000 #26 rock, #3 pop

"She Don't Love Nobody"

Nick Lowe1985 
The Desert Rose Band1989 #3 country
Northern Lights1996 

"She Loves the Jerk"

John Hiatt1983 
Elvis Costello1984 
Rodney Crowell1987 #71 country

"Something Wild"

Iggy Pop1990 
John Hiatt1993 

"Sure As I'm Sittin' Here"

John Hiatt1974 
Three Dog Night1974 #16 pop

"Tennessee Plates"

(written with Michael Porter)

John Hiatt1988 
Charlie Sexton1991 
Hank Flamingo1994 
Mark Collie1995 

"The Crush"

Steve Earle1987 

"The Most Unoriginal Sin"

Willie Nelson1993 
Hunters & Collectors1995 
John Hiatt2003 

"The Usual"

John Hiatt1985 
Bob Dylan1987 
George Thorogood & the Destroyers1991 

"The Way We Make a Broken Heart"

Ry Cooder1980 
Rosanne Cash1987 #1 country

"Thing Called Love"

John Hiatt1987 
Bonnie Raitt1989 

"Washable Ink"

The Neville Brothers1978 
John Hiatt1979 

"When We Ran"

John Hiatt1985 
Maura O'Connell1991 
Linda Ronstadt1998 

John Hiatt

Induction Year: 2008