Peabody News

Guitarist Michael Hedges Dies in Auto Accident

Virtuoso guitarist and composer Michael Hedges was killed in an automobile accident at the end of November when his car went off a mountain road near Mendocino, California. Michael studied classical guitar at Peabody with Ray Chester and composition with Morris Moshe Cotel.

Since graduating from Peabody in 1980 with a Bachelor's in Composition, Hedges made a solo career with his pioneering guitar technique which pushed the envelope of classical, folk and pop styles. "When he first auditioned for Aaron Shearer and me back in 1975," recalled Ray Chester, "we knew this was a brilliant kid. His contribution to the guitar was original and unique."

Michael Hedges became a Windham Hill Artist, releasing his first record "Breakfast in the Fields," in 1981. The record carried a dedication to his three composition teachers, "E.J. Ulrich who sent me on my way, Jean Ivey who let me go my own way, and Morris Cotel who asked me where I was going and why." There followed in quick succession) the Grammy-nominated "Aerial Boundaries" in 1984; "Watching My Life Go By" in 1985 (one song on that record "The Streamlined Man," was about Morris Cotel; "Taproot," also nominated for a Grammy; and "Oracle" in 1996. His final recording, titled "Java Man," will appear on an upcoming Windham Hill compilation titled "The Sounds of Wood and Steel" in January, 1998.

Newspapers and television and radio stations across the country carried obituaries and appreciations of Hedges and his innovative contributions to the acoustic guitar.

While at Peabody Michael met and married a fellow Peabody student, Mindy Rosenfeld. They had two sons, Mischa and Jasper, now aged 11 and 13. The marriage ended a few years ago but both remained good friends. Friends of the family have set up a memorial fund for the "Children of Michael Hedges," c/o Bank of America, 228 N. Main Street, Ft. Bragg, California 95437.

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