Hardin was born in Eugene, Oregon. He dropped out of high school at age 18 to join the Marine Corps. After his discharge he moved to New York City in 1961 where he briefly attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. He was dismissed because of truancy and began to focus on his musical career by performing around Greenwich Village, mostly in a blues style.
After moving to Boston in 1963 he was discovered by producer Erik Jacobson (later the producer for “Lovin' Spoonful”) who arranged a meeting with Columbia Records. In 1964 he moved back to Greenwich Village to record for his contract with Columbia. The resulting recordings were considered a failure to Columbia and they chose not to release the material until 1969 as “Tim Hardin IV”.
His first album, “Tim Hardin 1”, was released in 1966 on Verve Records. This album saw a transformation from his early traditional blues style to the folk that defined his recording career. This LP contained “Reason to Believe”, a song that Rod Stuart would later bring to fame. “Tim Hardin 2” was released in 1967 and contained his most famous song “If I Were a Carpenter” that Bobby Darin recorded for a U.S. top 10 hit in 1966. He did not tour this album and his heroin addiction and stage fright made his live performances erratic. “Tim Hardin 3” is a collection of live recordings along with remakes of previous songs that was released in 1968.
During the following years Hardin moved between England and the U.S.. His heroin addiction had taken control of his life by the time his last album, “Tim Hardin 9”, was released in 1973. He died on December 29, 1980 in Los Angeles, California of a heroin and morphine overdose.