Happy birthday to a teenie-bopper idol who turns out to be a lot more than just that. Mark Hudson is a singer, songwriter, producer, artist, actor, radio DJ…but still relatively anonymous. And he turns 71 today.
Hudson was the middle boy in the Hudson Brothers, a trio of entertainment-oriented lads from Portland, Oregon who had a brief moment in the spotlight in the mid-’70s. They had started out as a garage rock band in the ’60s, initially using the name The New Yorkers. They took that name from a Chrysler car after they got a gig singing a jingle for that motor company. Mark played drums and keyboards and at time sang for the band which became locally-popular in the Pacific Northwest. By 1972 they’d gotten signed to Playboy Records, and put out their first album. They’d put out five more through the decade, on four more record companies including Elton John’s Rocket label. Bernie Taupin was a fan and got them signed, producing one of their albums. With photogenic looks and acting aspirations, somehow the brothers got their own TV variety show in the summer of ’74 on CBS (replacing Sonny & Cher temporarily) which led to a Saturday morning, youth-oriented variety show the next year …one which lives on in legend largely due to its remarkably long introduction. All the publicity led them to have a couple of hit singles, most notably the Beatlesque “So You’re A Star” which rose to #21 at home and #5 in Canada.
Despite their goofy TV demeanor, they still fancied themselves a real rock band, albeit one which was a little hard to peg down. After the New Yorkers they’d gone by the name Everyday Hudson, then simply Hudson, then the Hudson Brothers. Allmusic figure they were a decent-enough outfit but one which owed “heavy debts to the Beatles and Beach Boys, and occasionally…the Kinks.” The New York Times reviewed one of their shows at the height of their popularity and wrote “they make a hard rock sound (and) try to project a raunchier image than television might lead one to expect.”
Whether the difficulty in defining who they were or what they wanted to sound like, bad luck or just lack of enough memorable material did them in, by 1980 they’d called it quits. That after they’d all just appeared on the Love Boat. But all went on to some later success. Eldest brother Bill went into acting full-time, and married Goldie Hawn…and later, Cindy Williams. (Technically Mark is Kate Hudson’s uncle, but it would seem she has little to do with the Hudson family). Youngest Brett found some success as a TV producer.
Mark went into distributing artwork, and stayed in music largely as a producer. He co-wrote Aerosmith’s hit “Livin’ on the Edge”. That caught their attention and he was called back to work with them frequently after that, most significantly on their Just Push Play album, which he co-produced with them and helped write six songs on. He also became friends with Ringo Starr and co-produced five albums from the ex-Beatle who at one time said “Mark puts the fun back in recording…he’s a great musician, has a lot of energy.” However their relationship was strained in 2006 when he pulled out of a Ringo tour with no notice, or when he did a job of producing that Ringo really disliked, depending on which source you look at. Around the same time, his friend Sharon Osbourne recruited him to be a coach on the show The X-factor and he became known for dying his beard in rainbow colors. He and Osbourne apparently met while working on a 2005 charity single, a remake of Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven” that he produced.
So there you have it – more razzle dazzle than you might expect from a third of a “one hit wonder.”