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Michael Penn

One of the most acclaimed singer/songwriters to emerge during the late 1980s, Michael Penn was seemingly destined for a career in show business. The oldest son of director Leo Penn and actress Eileen Ryan, he was born August 1, 1958 in New York City's Greenwich Village area; within a year, the family relocated to Los Angeles, and there Penn's younger siblings Sean (later recognized among the finest actors of his generation) and Chris (a noted character actor acclaimed for his work in features like Reservoir Dogs) were born. While his brothers focused on acting, Michael turned to music, and following an early obsession with the Beatles, learned to play guitar; by high school he joined his first band, covering hits by performers including the Rolling Stones and David Bowie. He soon turned to writing his own songs as well.

In the early '80s, Penn formed the group Doll Congress, which garnered a fervent local following but never expanded their fan base outside of Southern California; frustrated, he left music for a time, following in the family tradition by appearing as an extra in a number of television series, including the classic St. Elsewhere. In 1987, Sean Penn hosted Saturday Night Live and brought Michael along as a musical guest; the performance revived his interest in music, and he soon reunited with ex-Doll Congress keyboardist Patrick Warren to begin composing the songs which comprised his 1989 debut, March. Upon its release, the album became a significant critical favorite, earning acclaim for its sparkling Beatlesque folk-pop and clever, Elvis Costello-like wordplay; the lead single, "No Myth," even became a surprise hit and helped launch the LP into the Top 40. Another minor hit, "This and That," followed in 1990.

In the wake of his initial success, Penn went on a lengthy hiatus; when he returned in 1992 with his sophomore effort, Free for All, he met much greater commercial resistance than he had faced with March, and after only a few weeks, the album fell off the charts. He then spent five years pondering his next move, finally resurfacing in 1997 with Resigned; while critics again praised Penn's songcraft, the record, like its predecessor, failed to catch on outside of his loyal cult following. Around the same time, he also began collaborating with the acclaimed young filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson, scoring his 1997 debut, Hard Eight; later that same year, he composed the music for the critical favorite Boogie Nights, also making a cameo appearance in the film as an '80s-era record producer. In late 1997, Penn married fellow singer/songwriter Aimee Mann; Mp4: Days Since a Lost Time Accident followed in early 2000. In 2005, after a long falling out with Epic Records, Penn released Mr. Hollywood, Jr. 1947 on his own Mimeograph label. A song cycle about post-World War II Los Angeles, it features guest appearances from Mann, Buddy Judge, and Patrick Warren. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

Can't believe it took me so long to add him to pandora play list . I've been a fan since the early 90.s and was even blessed to see him and speak with him in an intimate south Florida venue .
msgthatsme
I only found his awesome music recently. So impressed!
I agree soonerthough t !
Love this guys voice; that Penn family is very talented!
Almost all of Michael Penn's work is brilliant to me. I just don't understand why he doesn't rule the world with his intelligent, well-crafted songs. I agree with vlwpeace's comment!
One of my all time favorites..N o Myth, still can remember driving out to the beach blaring this song 20 years ago
ookyspooky31 2 9
I remember watching 120 minutes while in high school and seeing/ hearing No Myth for the first time. What a great artist
OMG! WOW, I always loved his music and thought he was so unappreciate d . Was happy to read that he married Aimee Mann, I would love to hear what those two would come up with together.
barkenn
Never heard of him. Thought it was Crowded House. Not bad at all.
kirasings
One of my all-time favorite artists. There is not a single Michael Penn song I don't like, and so many I love that I couldn't possibly choose a favorite.
Terribly underrated!
vlwpeace
Michael Penn makes me happy to be alive.
march is one of my top ten favorite albums. Love Michael Penn.
dschaef9
"No Myth" still warms my heart each time I hear it.
tba0805
Love his voice.
nice work
he does have a wonderful voice.
great music, definately influencd by the beatles but good songs and great voice.

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