Header Graphic
Jackson's friend Calvin
Calvin Earl Hardy.  Did you ever meet Calvin at the Coach House?


January 24, 1949 - September 18, 2021 Beloved husband, life-long musician, a friend, and comfort to all The Coach House - October 5, 2021 from 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm Calvin Earl Hardy was born to parents Edward Hardy, Jr. and Bessie Madeline Clark on January 24, 1949, at 3:59 a.m. in the US Navy hospital in Portsmouth, Virginia. He lived for the past 14 years in Aliso Viejo with his wife of 30 years, Christi L. Mitchell-Hardy. He passed away on September 18, 2021, at 5:55 p.m., at Saddleback Medical Center in Laguna Hills after a long battle with prostate cancer. He was 72 years old. Calvin is survived by Christi, his step-children Anthony E. Mitchell, Sonja C. Mitchell, as well as being grandfather (Poppi) to Savannah Mitchell, Peyton Mitchell, Ireland Mitchell, Anthony (Bubbie) Mitchell, and Lucinda Jean Mitchell. Calvin is also survived by his sister Zanita Hardy, nephew William (Magic) Helms, cousin Tromie Clark, niece Rodricquia Liggins and her daughter Katherine. Calvin grew up in the Washington D.C. area. While in high school, he got his first job as an information collator on a Navy base, but the thing that set his life's course was when he formed a doo-wop group called The Love Tones. Then his friend Bobby "Simba" Hall turned him on to folk music and Bob Dylan, who became Calvin's all-time favorite musical artist. As Calvin put it, "I went from soul music to folk music, and became a hippie, running around barefoot, even in the snow!" He moved out of his parent's home and into a commune in the Dupont Circle area of D.C. After finishing high school, at 18 Calvin moved to Woodstock, New York, where he lived in another hippie commune. He was hired to do odd jobs by neighbor Albert Grossman, the famed manager of Dylan, Peter Paul & Mary, Janis Joplin, The Band, and others. Calvin's job included helping to maintain Grossman's Bearsville recording studio, where Grossman's acts and others recorded many of the seminal hits and albums of the 1960s and 1970s. When the Woodstock Festival was being organized in 1969, Calvin was hired to do some of the arduous work that made the fest possible, such as clearing trails through wooded areas. Surrounded by so much music, Calvin taught himself to play the electric bass and began performing. When childhood friend Les Smith called urging him to move to California, Calvin did just that. He soon landed a gig playing with a band called Bump City, which led to him becoming the bassist for singer Valerie Carter on a lengthy national tour opening for Jackson Browne. From that point on, he performed with Claudia Lennear, The Undisputed Truth, Etta James, Tim Hardin, Elvin Bishop, Loudon Wainwright III, the Mike Reilly Band, Gregg Allman, and others, most notably Ike and Tina Turner. Calvin was their final bass player: It was while he was touring with them that Tina finally had enough of domineering husband Ike and quit. Ike was also a harsh bandleader, but, as was the case with virtually everyone Calvin ever met, he never had an unkind word to say about Ike. Tiring of the road, Calvin finally settled down in the 1980s, becoming the hospitality manager at the Coach House for 15 years (and subsequently for a long span at the Grove in Anaheim), doing all he could to make artists' dressing rooms a welcome respite from the road. Calvin so excelled at his hospitality gig that the Los Angeles Times did a feature article on him. The Coach House's talent buyer then, the late, legendary Ken Phebus told the paper, "It makes my job a lot easier having Calvin there. Most of these acts come in here with serious road-burn, and Calvin takes care of them. When I'm talking to an acts agent, one of the first things I'm asked is, 'Is Calvin still there?'" Chris Isaak and Bonnie Raitt tour manager John Warren told the Times, "Without a doubt, one of the bright spots in my life on the road is coming to the Coach House with Calvin there." Even on occasions when artists were jerks, Calvin treated them with kindness. He told the Times, "I'm pretty much a spiritualist, where I consider people for their inner self, and there we're all the same, so I relate to that; not to their personality but to the person I perceive to be in them that is in me. It breaks down walls and it really helps." That sense of kindness defined his life. He brought the same compassion and regard to being a limo driver for his dear friend John Olsa's company. It was no surprise when Calvin picked up his bass again that he was still helping others: One of his favorite gigs was playing in a band with Christi, doing free shows for people with brain injuries and cognitive disabilities, working those low notes to get the audience dancing and feeling good about themselves. For the past 17 years, Calvin played in Roby LaPort's band Gratitude, with Sherman Fowler and Mike Cook (and with Christi joining them seven years ago). They were the longtime official band for San Clemente's Earth Day event at the pier. His final two gigs were at Laguna Beach's Fete de La Musique with The Pancakes, and at The Sawdust Festival, singing with Christi in C&C Hardy. Calvin took life as it came, even when cancer became a consuming part of it. If Calvin had a motto, Christi said it was in the lyrics to Bob Dylan's "No Time to Think": "No expectations, Any time, Any place, Anywhere". How would Calvin want to be remembered? Christi says, "With his bass in his hands, loving, dedicated, joyful, kind, humble, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, cousin, friend, musician, bandmate, husband. He never judged anyone. I'm sure he would end this with the same words he used to end all his letters and texts: "Love and Peace"

Published by Orange County Register on Oct. 5, 2021.