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About Gary Hoey
A versatile American hard rock guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter, Gary Hoey found success in 1993 with a hard-hitting cover of Focus' "Hocus Pocus," which became one of the most ubiquitous singles of the year. Hoey emerged in the late 1980s as a leading candidate to replace Jake E. Lee in Ozzy Osbourne's band (the job went to Zakk Wylde), and he later went on to found the short-lived glam metal group Heavy Bones. Since going solo in 1993, Hoey has issued a string of LPs -- such as Bug Alley (1996), Wake Up Call (2003), and Neon Highway Blues (2019) -- that run the gamut from rock and blues to fusion. He has worked alongside Roger Daltrey, Johnny Winter, Joe Perry, Brian May, Steve Vai, and Dick Dale, among others.
Hailing from Boston, Hoey was first a music fan before picking up the guitar -- following renowned rock bands from the area like Aerosmith, J. Geils Band, Boston, etc. It wasn't long until Hoey decided to give the guitar a try, initially inspired by the usual guitar greats; however, he was not entirely self-taught, as he would often hang around outside of Boston's renowned Berklee School of Music, make friends, and then offer to pay them for lessons. Sensing that he should devote all of his time to music, Hoey dropped out of high school and began playing Boston's local clubs, making ends meet by teaching guitar to others.
Hoey's big break appeared to come his way in 1988, when Ozzy Osbourne began looking for a replacement for Jake E. Lee. Despite a series of auditions (including Hoey being asked to fly out to Los Angeles), he failed to land the gig -- which went to Zakk Wylde -- but in the process, he decided to relocate permanently to the West Coast. Packing up all his belongings in a U-Haul, Hoey arrived with $17,000 in his pocket (saved from his playing and teaching gigs). Years later, Hoey eventually came to the attention of manager Dave Kaplan, who helped get the guitarist's career moving forward. Although it wasn't the best of times to launch a career for a "guitar hero" in 1993 (with Nirvana and Pearl Jam being all the rage), Hoey did just that and scored a sizeable MTV/radio hit with his cover of the early-'70s prog rock gem "Hocus Pocus" by the Netherlands-based group Focus. The album from which it was taken, Animal Instinct, also featured contributions from a few notable names of '80s hard rock: bassist Tony Franklin (ex-Firm), keyboardist Claude Schnell (ex-Dio), and drummer Frankie Banali (ex-Quiet Riot). Hoey had previously worked with Banali in the glam rock group Heavy Bones, who released an eponymous debut in 1992, before ceasing operations the following year.
Hoey never managed to scale the same heights again commercially, but it didn't prevent him from carving a niche for himself, as his albums got progressively more surf-based and rootsy. A friendship with surf guitar great Dick Dale soon blossomed, with Dale going so far as to declare Hoey one of his all-time favorite players, alongside the likes of Eric Clapton, B.B. King, and Andrés Segovia, which led to the two working together. The talented guitarists went toe to toe on a remake of "Miserlou" (titled "Miserlou '97") for the 1997 benefit album M.O.M., Vol. 2: Music for Our Mother Ocean, which also saw Hoey produce and play on another track for the collection, "V-12 Cadillac," by a then still unknown Jewel.
Hoey continued to issue solo albums on a regular basis, including the soundtrack to Endless Summer II (1995) and a series of Christmas-themed releases under the title Ho! Ho! Hoey. Over the next decade, he worked constantly -- touring regularly, contributing music to film and TV, recording steadily, and producing albums, including Lita Ford's Living Like a Runaway in 2012. Beginning with 2013's Boxcar Blues, he started to move toward blues music, a route he continued to pursue on 2016's Dust & Bones and 2019's Neon Highway Blues. Hoey has worked with various musical instrument and electronics companies to create his own signature gear for retail, and has shared the stage with a host of rock & roll greats like Ted Nugent, Foreigner, Joe Satriani, Kenny Wayne Shepard, Eric Johnson, and Peter Frampton. ~ Greg Prato
- Lowell, MA
- 23 Jul 1960
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