Frenship High School orchestra students recently had the amazing opportunity to speak to Frenship alum and world-renowned pianist, Glen D. Hardin, who was Elvis Presley’s handpicked piano man.
This week, the orchestra students at Frenship High School had a once in a lifetime opportunity to hear about Glen D. Hardin’s star-studded testament of musical success in the new age music of rock and roll. Hardin was able to speak to several classes about his experience in the music industry.
While Hardin currently resides in Nashville, when he heard about the new orchestra program at his alma mater from his brother, he knew that he had to come visit. Hardin’s brother reached out directly to Darcy Radcliffe, the orchestra director at Frenship ISD, and told her of Hardin’s interest in speaking to the orchestra students.
With orchestra being the newest Fine Arts program at Frenship ISD, Radcliffe knew she couldn’t resist the opportunity to bring in the music legend to inspire the students and share his experiences.
“When I learned about Mr. Hardin and the rich experiences he’s had as a pianist and music arranger, I realized quickly that our students should hear from him,” stated Radcliffe.
Hardin is a Texas native who soared beyond the great plains to reach for his music aspirations. At the age of eight, Hardin began to teach himself piano and later taught himself to arrange music.
After graduating from Frenship High school in 1957, Hardin spent two years in the US Navy before he moved to California and joined the house band, “Shin-diggers” (later renamed “Shindogs) at the Palomino Club in North Hollywood.
It would seem Hardin had music baking into his destiny. He grew up in Lubbock alongside Joe B. Maudlin and drummer Jerry Allison, both members of Buddy Holly’s band, The Crickets. After Holly’s death, Glen played with the band and became an honorary member. He’s also worked extensively with musicians such as Emmy Lou Harris, John Denver, John Williams, among many others.
In 1970, after several years of success alongside the Shindogs, Elvis Presley needed the best piano player, and he looked no further than Hardin. Elvis himself called Hardin up and asked him to join the TCB Band to replace pianist, Larry Muhoberac. Hardin toured and recorded with Elvis until 1976. He also arranged many of Elvis’ hit songs, like “Let It Be Me”, “The Wonder of You”, and “I Just Can’t Help Believin”. When Elvis would decide to do a new song on a whim, he and Hardin would often stay up overnight working on arrangements.
Hardin expressed his excitement for returning to his old stomping ground, even if the building has changed quite a bit since his days as a Frenship student. Hardin sat with the orchestra students and shared his wealth of knowledge and experience.
He encouraged the students to work hard and shared that he learned how to work hard from growing up in the cotton fields of Wolfforth, Texas.
“He asked students to not give up and to be brave,” said Radcliffe. “He said that as a musician he’s never bored. He’s still as interested in it and challenged by it as he ever was and that choosing music as a lifelong pursuit is incredibly enriching.”
Radcliffe stated that the students gained so much from his visit. They listened to his life story with rapt attention and respectfully engaged with him by asking questions during his time there.
“It’s always important to hear from people who are from where you’re from and became successful in their chosen field,” said Radcliffe. “As a Frenship graduate, a prolific musician, and an octogenarian, Mr. Hardin had much encouragement and wisdom to offer our students.”
Hardin left the students with this closing remark, “music will make you happy your whole life.”
To read more about Glen D. Hardin’s time with Elvis click HERE.