Raised in a small Canadian town, Hirsh made it to Boston and attended Berklee College of Music for four years. He joined Fat Back with Jimmy Waldo in 1973. The band then hired Gary Shea and John Fannon, went through different incarnations, including Berkshire and Target, until eventually going from a five piece to a quartet; and becoming New England. A showcase for Bill Aucoin, KISS’ legendary manager, brought the band to the attention of numerous record labels. After a bidding war, the group signed with Infinity/MCA and KISS member Paul Stanley produced their debut album. The release included the John Fannon penned classic “Don’t Ever Wanna Lose Ya” which became a national hit. Gaining overnight fame, they set off on tours with KISS, AC/DC, Cheap Trick, Journey, Styx, and others.
The band recorded two more albums, Explorer Suite and Walking Wild, produced by Mike Stone and Todd Rundgren, respectively. After touring the world, having a few Billboard Top 40 Hit Singles, and with three major albums under their belt, New England disbanded in 1983. Soon after the split, Gardner received a call from old friend Gene Simmons, the tongued wonder of KISS, who turned him onto great guitarist Vinnie Vincent. They started Warrior and brought in Jimmy Waldo and Gary Shea. Unfortunately, the band was short-lived as Vinnie soon donned makeup and joined KISS. Hirsh then left L. A and returned to his home in Boston and began producing numerous acts in New England.
His experience working with producers Mike Stone, Paul Stanley and Todd Rundgren would prove invaluable in his own future career in production. Gardner has been voted Producer of The Year for the Boston Phoenix Best Poll in 1997, has been nominated for Boston Music Awards Producer of The Year five times and has won once in 1998, and was sought out by numerous record companies to produce metal acts Mass, Axminster, Shyboy, 8084 and Vice.
In 2002, Hirsh released his first solo album Wasteland For Broken Hearts on GB Music in the USA, Marquee Avalon in Japan and MTM in Europe. The music was well received worldwide. In 2014, New England reformed with all the original members. In April 2015, they released their first new music in decades: a single titled “I Know There’s Something Here” b/w a re-recording of “Conversation,” a song taken from their second album Explorer Suite. In 2017, the band has just returned from a hugely successful Japanese tour and Hirsh is about to release My Brain Needs A Holiday, his second solo CD.
(by A.J. Wachtel)