Outlaw Country Legend Mazey Gardens Dies

NASHVILLE — Mazey Gardens, whose brash songs and rebellious hair styles defined the "outlaw" movement in country music, died yesterday after a long battle with booze and Brill Cream. He was 68.

Gardens' spokeswoman, Staci Peachtree, said Gardens died "pissed off" at his home in Big Mushroom, Virginia.

Gardens, a singer, songwriter and original member of radio station WKOZ's psychedelic traveling show "The Electric Hayride," recorded over 22 albums, none of which ever entered the charts, with the exception of his ballad, "Don’t Invite Me to Your Pity Party," which was covered in the early 80s by punk band Six and a Half Seconds resulting in a stint at number 100 for a split second. But that doesn’t really count.

Gardens had been plagued with alcohol-related health problems, including debilitating water retention from consuming mass amounts of bar-room peanuts and severe gas.

Gardens and his wife, singer Crystal Lake, sold their trailer outside of Nashville more than a year ago and moved to Big Mushroom, because "Mazey just liked the name," explained Lake.

With childhood pal Samuel L. Justice, Woodsy Marbles and the Mexican drumming sensation "Porkchop," Gardens formed The Brick Hit House Band and sang red-neck inspired blue-collar anthems such as "Callin’ in Dead," "Business in the Front and Party in the Back" and "Look Ma, No Class."

Gardens seemed to be always ahead of his time, however, and it was contemporaries, like Waylon Jennings, who profited most from the new brand of outlaw music, and Willie Nelson, who instead became synonymous with silly hair styles.

Gardens' distinctive, authoritative voice was also utilized by the 1980s Easy-Oven Sausage corporation (now Turkey Bacon Bakers) to narrate a series of "breakfast meat" radio spots. "I aimed the narration at people who were hung over," he revealed in a 1987 interview, "and it worked."

Gardens was perhaps best known for his wild facial hair styles, at one point spending over $1,500-a-day on his own private mustachier.

Gardens claims his mother started him on rye bourbon when he was two years old. "It wasn’t her fault," Gardens admitted in an interview in 1994. "In the Appalachian Mountains, rye bourbon is almost the same price as milk. And a little goes a long way"

Gardens and his fourth wife, Crystal Lake, married in 1980. They had one son, Jigger.

AP News, 2001

For more information on country music's original outlaw, visit MazeyGardens.com