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- November 15, 1999
- Vol. 52
- No. 19
A Joy to His World
Though Often Troubled, Musician Hoyt Axton Attacked Life with Gusto
Pot and speed, for which Deborah says he went through rehab in 1991, weren't his only vices. There was also his compulsive eating. "He loved food," says singer Cory Wells of Three Dog Night, which recorded such early-'70s Axton signatures as "Joy to the World" and "Never Been to Spain." Yet even following his stroke, Axton continued to indulge his appetite. "That was Hoyt," says Kay. "He did things his way."
Axton's sure-minded convictions usually paid off. Son of songwriter and publicist Mae Boren Axton, who cowrote "Heartbreak Hotel," and John Axton, a high school football coach, Hoyt attended Oklahoma State on a football scholarship. He dropped out in 1958, joined the Navy, then began performing in West Coast coffeehouses. In 1975 he penned Ringo Starr's antidrug hit "The No No Song." Axton also prospered as a TV and film actor (1984's Gremlins). Still, "he was writing songs to the end," says Donna Axton, who remained friendly with Hoyt after their 1990 divorce. "I really miss playing onstage with him. He'd say, 'Let's go and make some magic' And he always did."
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