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Jonathan Richman

Jonathan Richman was one of rock's most eccentric and unpredictable cult figures, a performer whose eternally childlike public persona and seeming naiveté -- typified by songs like "Ice Cream Man," "Hey There Little Insect" and "I'm a Little Aeroplane" -- tended to obscure the dexterity and craft of his music, which skirted from garage rock to country to Latin stylings and back. Born May 15, 1951 in Boston, Massachusetts, Richman began playing guitar at the age of 15, and within a year was making his first public appearances. In 1969 he relocated to New York, the home of the Velvet Underground (his central musical influence), and spent his first two weeks in the city sleeping on the Velvets' manager's couch.

While working a series of odd jobs, including a tenure as a foot messenger for Esquire magazine, Richman attempted to find a venue to perform his music, but his simple songs and adenoidal voice were roundly rejected; he ultimately moved back to Boston in 1970, where he formed the first incarnation of the influential proto-punk band the Modern Lovers with guitarist John Felice, drummer David Robinson and bassist Rolfe Anderson. Within a few months, Anderson had been replaced by Ernie Brooks, and keyboardist Jerry Harrison stepped in for Felice. After recording some demos with Kim Fowley in the spring of 1971 (unissued until 1981), in 1973, the Modern Lovers (with producer John Cale) recorded the demos which comprised their seminal self-titled debut, featuring long-standing Richman favorites like "Roadrunner," "Pablo Picasso" and "Hospital." Problems with their label, however, blocked the songs' release until 1976; at the same time, Richman wanted to quiet the group's minimalist, garagey sound, leading to their breakup in 1973.

Eventually, Richman formed a new, acoustic Modern Lovers with guitarist Leroy Radcliffe, Rubinoos bassist Greg "Curly" Keranen and drummer Robinson. In 1977, they debuted with Jonathan Richman & the Modern Lovers, which emphasized the doo-wop flavor and wry pop melodies that remained hallmarks of Richman's career. That same year, the group issued Rock 'N' Roll With the Modern Lovers (with D. Sharpe on drums) and scored a major European hit with the instrumental "Egyptian Reggae." A year later, Richman went solo, and in 1979 issued Back in Your Life.

After a period of self-imposed exile, he resurfaced in 1983 with Jonathan Sings A series of strong pop records followed, including 1985's Rockin' & Romance, 1986's It's Time for Jonathan Richman & the Modern Lovers (recorded with Andy Paley), and Modern Lovers 88. In 1990, he released the self-explanatory Jonathan Goes Country; later, he made another left turn with 1993's Jonathan, Te Vas a Emocionar!, a collection of Latin-influenced songs performed entirely in Spanish. No matter what path his music took, however, Richman's cult following remained fiercely loyal, and saw its ranks expand courtesy of his frequent appearances on the NBC program Late Night With Conan O'Brien; in 1998, he was also prominently featured in the hit film comedy There's Something About Mary. I'm So Confused appeared later that year. Richman began dipping his toes into slightly more sophisticated musical forms with 2001's Her Mystery Not of High Heels and Eye Shadow, which also documented his continuing interest in the Spanish language, as did 2004's Not So Much to Be Loved as to Love. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

xhidden99
This is s**t
Katthecloset s t a r
Yes, give the guy a present tense!
Jonathon Richman is so good, and has been for so long, it's no wonder that he had a giant impact on the punk scene. Lou Reed, The Cure, Dylan, Clash, Ramones, JR is in the best tradition of these artists. Some of his stuff can be a little slow, but he often finds his stride, putting energy into the most unnerving subjects.
I,
Dancing in a Lesbian Bar is one of the coolest songs out there.
He's GREAT!
danlew12
Biographer, you make it sound like he's dead! Give the guy a present tense.
Gotta say the bio is a little misleading. Those "childlike" songs the bio mentions came from an album Jonathan wrote for children - so yeah, they're childlike. He does have a sweet, beautiful innocence about his songwriting though. We're lucky here in Chico that he plays a local tavern about once a year. Nothing better than seeing Jonathan in a venue with a maximum capacity of 99.
Just thumbs down all of their songs. And you better not be talking about Richman or the Modern Lovers or Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers, because they're all great.
So how do I make sure I never hear anything by an artist ever again?
Not trolling, just I seriously want to know.
joeandmartin a
one of the best musical talents to come out of the Boston area......si m p l e yet complex....
I discovered this artist while attending boston university in the late 70's. He is very unique. I saw him play at the paradise club and they stop serving alchohol because his brother was attending the show....
sassyjan
strange
Definitely see him in person....am a z i n g . He is to Bob Dylan as the apple is to the pear.
not so common...oh so nice
hes so random! i love it.
bud1weis3err
Wish they had the Theres something about mary song he sang in the movie
just always makes me smile!! bouncy and fun music!! music at is simple best!

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