Quintessential new age composer/guitarist Michael
Hedges, known for his unique two-handed picking style,
died in an apparent automobile accident earlier this week in
Mendocino County, Calif. Hedges was 43.
Hedges’ body was found at the bottom of an embankment around
11:30 a.m. Tuesday just off State Route 128, approximately 100
miles northwest of San Francisco, according to Lt. Kevin
Broin of the Mendocino County coroner’s office. Road
construction workers discovered Hedges’ body, which was thrown from
his 1986 BMW, and reported the crash to the California Highway
Patrol. Authorities speculate that the crash occurred days
The car appeared to have skidded off a slick, curvy road, slid
down the embankment and flipped over, ejecting Hedges in the
process. The guitarist apparently died from internal injuries,
according to Broin.
California law requires that a toxicology report be generated
for all people who die in car accidents. Although the results of
Hedges’ toxicology screen won’t be available for a few weeks, Broin
says that, based on the evidence, it is unlikely that alcohol and
drugs were involved in the accident.
Hedges helped establish the Windham Hill record
label in the early 1980s. He released many albums to critical
acclaim, including Aerial Boundaries, Live On The
Double Planet and Oracle. This January, Hedges was to
perform on the Guitar Summit Tour with Sharon Isbin, Herb Ellis and Rory
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Hedges was born on Dec. 31, 1953, in Sacramento, Calif., grew up
in Enid, Okla., and had been living and recording in Mendocino
Growing up, Hedges played guitar and flute and studied classical guitar at Phillips University in Enid, Okla. He earned his degree in composition from the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore then studied electronic music at
Stanford University. It was at Stanford that Hedges first met Windham Hill co-founder Will Ackerman.
During his career, Hedges worked with such notables as Jerry Garcia, Crosby, Stills & Nash, the Cure, Beautiful South, the English Beat and Thomas Dolby.
At the time of his death, Hedges was working on his next album,
tentatively titled Torched.
Hedges is survived by his mother, Ruth Ipsen; sister, Carol Hedges; two brothers, Craig Hedges and Brendan Hedges; and two sons.