Hoyt Axton was a singer, guitarist, pianist, and songwriter and best known for is compositions “The Pusher,” “Joy to the World (Jerimiah Was a Bullfrog)" and “Della and the Dealer." He was born March 25, 1938 in Duncan, Oklahoma to John T. Axton and Mae Boren Axton.
Hoyt’s parents were both influential in helping him develop his musical talents as his mother required him to take piano lessons and his father taught him the finer points of singing, especially the rich baritone voice.
Upon completion of high school, Hoyt received a scholarship to play football at Oklahoma State University, but before he could complete his degree, he joined the Navy. After leaving the Navy in 1961, Hoyt turned to the music business writing and performing folk music. He recorded his first album in 1962 on the Horizon label entitled The Balladeer that included such songs as “John Henry” and “Walkin’ to Georgia.”
During the late 1960s, Hoyt composed several hits including “Snowblind Friend’ and “The Pusher” which was recorded by Steppenwolf and featured in the 1969 film Easy Rider.
In the 1970s two of Hoyt’s compositions, “Joy to the World (Jerimiah Was a Bullfrog)" and “Never Been to Spain” were recorded by Three Dog Night and his song “No No Song” was recorded by Ringo Starr. He went on to record more than thirty albums, primarily in the 1970s.
Hoyt’s most recent albums were Spin of the Wheel in 1991, Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog in 1998, and Gold in 2001. The title song of the Jeremiah was a Bullfrog album became one of his most requested compositions. Hoyt’s songs were covered by a variety of artists including Waylon Jennings, Glen Campbell, Tanya Tucker, John Denver, and Commander Cody.
Hoyt also appeared in several movies such as We’re No Angels, The Black Stallion, Gremlins and was in the hit TV series Bonanza in 1965. He also sang the “Head to the Mountains” jingle used in the Busch beer commercial in the 1980s.
Hoyt died October 26, 1999 of a heart attack at his home in Victor, Montana at the age of 61. He is best remembered by Oklahomans for one of the lines from “Never Been to Spain,” “Well, I’ve never been to heaven, but I’ve been to Oklahoma.” Hoyt once said, “I believe in music—it’s the food I feed my soul.”