The A's were one of Philadelphia's hottest bands in the 70s. Their mix of new wave and power pop created some of the best music of that wonderful period - the barely pre-MTV era (1977-1981). Lead singer Richard Bush was also one of the most charismatic frontman around - rock star through and through. But, unfortunately, after two underperforming albums on a major label, the band called it a day. Today, Richard primarily makes his living working like the rest of us, but for the past few years he's invested his talents in his new band, the psychedelic Peace Creeps. In our conversation, Richard honestly dissects his musical career, what went wrong, what went right, and what should have been. The guy is still amazing and hasn't lost a step!
Arthur Alexander grew up in Warsaw Poland with dreams of becoming the next Elvis. His dreams brought him to NYC where he paid his dues on the CBGBs scene of the mid-70s with his first band The Poppees before things started to take off with his next band, the killer garage rock/power pop greats Sorrows. Unfortunately, after two under-performing albums the band was no more. Arthur is very candid and opinionated about his own career, what went wrong, and even his feelings about his fellow CBGB cohorts (Ramones, Television, Talking Heads). Sorrows are another in that dreaded "shoulda been huge" category and, while making music isn't what pays the bills anymore, he is still out there writing and creating. Get to know one of rock's great characters!
In the mid-70s, Blanche Napoleon impulsively moved to NYC and befriended the excellent singer-songwriter Dan Hartman. She also managed to stumble into a music career when Dan made her a background singer on some of his biggest disco hits ("Instant Replay", "Relight My Fire", "Love Sensation"). Their deep friendship carried on until his death from AIDS in 1993. In this conversation, not only do we honor Dan and his life and art, but we talk about Blanche's brief. but impactful career in the music business in the late 70s before she transitioned to a hugely successful career in the fashion industry. She may have a short musical resume, but she has some of the best stories.
Jon Fiore was the lead singer of another great, but forgotten, early 80s rock band called Preview. Like many other bands we've showcased, they came in with a lot of promise, released an excellent debut album in 1983, and completely disappeared. From there, Jon began a highly successful career singing many legendary jingles, continuing to perform whenever possible, including releasing two excellent melodic hard rock albums in the 90s. But, to me he will always be beloved as the voice behind the theme song "Out on the Edge" from1985's endearing flick The Heavenly Kid. That alone makes him a legend in my book!
Who can ever forget the sight of the greased-up beefcake saxophone player performing "I Still Believe" on the boardwalk among the barrels of fire in the 1987 classic movie, The Lost Boys. It's an image that has impacted a generation. This week's guest is the man himself, Tim Cappello. This surprisingly kind and funny guy tells us why he never had a solo career (it's hilarious), what it was like working for legends such as Peter Gabriel and Tina Turner, his days starting out as Billy Crystal's musical director, and how he felt about being parodied on Saturday Night Live by Jon Hamm. Get to know the pop culture icon himself!
As big as "hair metal" was in the late-80s, there were very few women singers that were as big as the boys and could hold their own next to them. That is, except for Fiona, who released a string of hard rock albums from the mid-80s to the early 90s scoring a couple moderate hits in the process. She is probably best known for her electric duet with fellow genetic lottery winner Kip Winger, "Everything You Do (Your Sexing Me)" which barely missed the top 40 in 1989. However, what makes Fiona Flanagan truly demand your respect is what all she accomplished when the music career petered out. She had the foresight to enroll in UCLA and become an accountant, which she did for many years before settling down as a mom to raise her kids in New Jersey.
This is an encore presentation of one of our biggest (and many think best) episodes. Because only the last 50 episodes show up in iTunes, I wanted to post this again so it could be accessed more easily. And because I'm super proud of it.
Jai was the stage name of Jason Rowe, who in the 90s recorded one of the great lost albums with Heaven. Referring to his style as "a mod for the hip-hop generation", Heaven produced one of the best singles of the decade with "I Believe" which was a modest hit on alternative radio in 1997. Unfortunately, that was it for Jai, or so I thought. Come to find out, he released one more album under his given name in 2006 called Lovelife which, unfortunately, remains fairly obscure. Despite it all, Jason has managed to consistently make a living through music (in some very unique ways) and isn't shy discussing what went wrong and who's to blame. The best guests are the ones that don't pull any punches and Jason tells it as he sees it. Plus, he recounts one of the best Mick Jagger stories you'll ever hear. Get to know a great artist you may have missed the first time.
This week is the one and only Taco ( yes, that is his real name - Taco Ockerse )! He hit it big in 1983 with his hypnotic take on the classic 'Puttin On The Ritz', which reached #4 that year, and was a bit of a cultural touchstone.
Peter McCann is the man behind the immortal classic, "Do You Wanna Make Love" which was a #5 smash in 1977. He's an admitted one-hit-wonder, but his career is much broader than the one hit. He started out in a folk group called The Repairs who were managed by Andrew Loog Oldham (also of the Rolling Stones) and signed to Motown of all places! Berry Gordy didn't know what to do with them, so they were dropped after two albums. Peter went solo, but learned early on that he much preferred writing songs for other people. In fact, Jennifer Warnes had a #6 hit also in 1977 with his "Right Time of the Night". Peter has been a successful songwriter ever since, penning tunes for artists like the Oak Ridge Boys, Kenny Rogers, and Janie Fricke. One of his songs even made it on Whitney Houston's debut album (which has since sold 30 million copies). He's an exceptionally refreshing guy with a wonderful outlook on the business. He also tells a great story about Christie Brinkley and the Vacation soundtrack!
George Winston is an icon of New Age music (or "rural folk piano" as he calls it) and an American treasure. His beautiful piano songs have become a part of the country's fabric and some of his albums, especially 1982's December, are essential recordings no matter the genre. To me, George has been a mysterious figure, ever present, but never in the limelight. I wanted to get to know the man behind the music. Turns out he's a talkative, gregarious, student of music who has created his own world and plays by his own rules. His definition of success is refreshing. Get to know the man behind the music. And listen to the end for details on how you can get some free CDs.
Neil Taylor has been a hugely successful session guitarist for over 30 years, ever since some of his buddies called him up one day asking if he could rush over to the studio and lay down a guitar solo on a song they were working on. That song was "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" and, of course, the band was Tears For Fears. This began a long and fulfilling career that's seen him work with luminaries such as Morrissey, Peter Gabriel, and Robbie Williams, whom he performed alongside for 10 years. Today, Neil is putting together an excellent solo career that deserves your attention. In this conversation we discuss many of his collaborators (Naked Eyes, Holly Johnson, Johnny Hates Jazz, Howard Jones, Jane Wiedlin, Red Box, Martin Page, Tina Turner, Trevor Horn) and he shares some incredible stories. I love this one a lot.
Our intrepid producer, Jan "The Man" is a huge AC/DC fan, and has been trying to finagle a way to see them for literally years.
In honor of the 30th anniversary of the release of Ferris Bueller's Day Off this month, our guest this week is Ben Watkins, former lead singer of The Flowerpot Men who had that excellent track "Beat City" that was featured heavily in the film. What's really interesting about Ben is that he went on to be a key figure in the electronic and techno scene of the early 90s when he started the hugely successful Juno Reactor, a band that has been going strong around the world ever since. Ben has also contributed heavily to numerous other films, most notably The Matrix sequels. Would you have ever guessed that the same guy would be responsible for iconic tracks on movies as disparate as Ferris Bueller and The Matrix? We also talk about when Juno Reactor served as the backing band for actress Traci Lords when she released her debut album in 1995. So many points of interest with this guy!
The Woodentops were an excellent British alternative pop band of the mid-to-late 80s. However, within just 2 years, they released 3 wildly different albums and then called it quits. The debut, Giant, sounds like what bands such as Prefab Sprout and Let's Active were doing at the time. The second was a live album that was super punky and revved up, and then the proper second album, Wooden Foot Cops on the Highway, was heavily influenced by the Madchester and Baggie scenes of the late 80s. Lead singer Rolo McGinty refers to himself as "schizophrenic" which is exactly right. He talks about what motivates the changing, the various luminaries he collaborated with, and what prompted him to reform the band 25 years later for 2014's excellent Granular Tales album.
Anthony Kaczynski was the lead singer of the great Detroit synth band Figures on a Beach throughout the 80s. They started out as a more avant-garde focused outfit along the lines of early Simple Minds, OMD, and Can, but they eventually put out two major label albums in the late-80s that had a much slicker, synth-pop sound. Unfortunately, success wasn't in the cards (although they did record one of the great alternative singles of the late-80s with "Accidentally 4th Street (Gloria)"). Anthony didn't do much of note musically until the end of the 90s when he started his current band, Fireking, who are one of the great current powerpop acts. Today he has his hands in many different musical projects and he may be busier (and happier) than he's ever been, all the while paying his bills by co-owning a company with his ex-wife. His spirit is infectious, enjoy!
The 90s were the golden era of killer indie rock bands fronted by chicks and one of the best of the bunch was Washington D.C.'s Velocity Girl lead by Sarah Shannon. The band put out three albums in the mid-90s before calling it quits. Sarah got married, moved to Seattle, and embarked a mildly successful solo career before turning her attention away from the music industry. Just then, an opportunity to start a children's rock band called The Not-Its became a reality. Think the power poppy guitar of vintage Velocity Girl mixed with lyrics your children will enjoy. Now, Sarah's back in the rock game, although from a completely different perspective. She's also the mother of two young girls and she shares her views on parenting as a former rock star. Fascinating stuff!
Amanda Blue was the lead singer of one of those great rock and roll with a touch of new wave bands of the late 70s/early 80s called Spider. They cracked the top 40 once in 1980 when "New Romance" reached #39, but after two albums, they changed their name to Shanghai and released one more album before calling it quits and Amanda embarked on a solo career. What might be most interesting about Spider are the many recognizable names that circled their orbit. The band was discovered by Kiss and managed by Bill Aucoin (Gene Simmons also managed Amanda for a while). Also, one of the band members was Holly Knight, who would go on to be one of the most successful songwriters of all time ("Love is a Battlefield", "Simply The Best", "The Warrior", etc). And, the drummer, and Amanda's ex-husband, was Anton Fig, who would land the steadiest gig in music as the drummer for David Letterman's band. Amanda now makes healing her life's mission, which we talk a lot about. Lovely lady with an amazing story.
To celebrate The Hustle's 1st Birthday, we created a full circle moment. This week's guest is Mark Brzezicki, drummer of the iconic Scottish band Big Country! You may remember in the intro to The Hustle that I recorded a year ago, I mentioned that the suicide of Big Country's lead singer Stuart Adamson was an inspiration for me creating a place where I could let my favorite unsung artists know how much I love them. Here we are 52 conversations later and still going strong! Mark and I discuss what Stuart was like as a man, the ups and downs of being in the band, what everyone is doing now, and some of the session work Mark's done to maintain a career. With all the joy these artists have brought to our lives, they deserved better.
In this special Prince-themed bonus episode of The Hustle, we're joined by popular blogger and host of the beloved Stuck In The 80s podcast, Steve Spears, another die-hard Prince fan. We discuss what he meant to us, his legacy, our faves, and the rumors surrounding how he died. Huge thank you to Steve for being our special guest!
American Noise were one of the great "should-have-been" bands. They were one of the hottest tickets in the thriving Cleveland rock scene of the 70s when they were signed by legend Richard Perry and sent to LA to work on their debut album. Released in 1980, their self-titled masterpiece is a power-pop lovers dream. However, the label didn't get behind them and American Noise dissolved into obscurity. Over the years, however, that album has grown a deserved reputation as "the great lost guitar record".
Todd Pipes was the lead singer of Deep Blue Something, who hit it big in 1995 with the seminal "Breakfast at Tiffany's" which reached #5 on the US charts. Sadly, it was their one and only hit and after a couple more albums that received less attention, the band slowed way down. Todd is now an English teacher in Dallas and makes music when he wants to, including an excellent ep from last year called Locust House. We talk about music in the 90s, the aftermath of having such a big, divisive hit, and the other bands they blew off the stage. My personal feeling is that there has always been more to this band than "the hit" and the deserve to have the rest of their music discovered.
Ranking Roger is a music and style icon that needs no introduction. He was a founding member of one of the most important and beloved alternative/ska bands of all-time with the English Beat. Then, he and fellow front man Dave Wakeling broke off and formed General Public to even greater chart success ("Tenderness" #27 in 1984). Today the former partners function as two separate groups - Dave carries on as The English Beat in the states while Roger is The Beat throughout the rest of the world. We discuss the dynamic between the two, the state of potential reunions, Roger's excellent solo work, and his views on marijuana. And, he announces new Beat music coming in 2016!
Phil and I discuss several of his collaborations including...
Phil Spalding has been an in demand session bassist for almost 40 years now. His highest profile gig from an American perspective was probably when he was a member of that short-lived supergroup GTR, who had a big hit with "When the Heart Rules the Mind" which reached #14 in 1986. Since then he's collaborated with everyone from Seal to Terence Trent D'Arby to Right Said Fred to Elton John, all the while living as a full-blown drug addict. Thankfully, he's been in recovery for 11 years now and serving as best he can to help others in the same situation. Here is his amazing story!
Hipsway were a Scottish band in the mid-80s that scored one hit in the states off their first album with "The Honeythief" in 1986, one of the finest singles of its era. That was about it for Hipsway, however, and after one more album that was barely released the guys parted ways. What's interesting about lead singer Grahame Skinner is that he's been a part of numerous other bands, both before and after, that were even better and deserved to be discovered, but mostly weren't. Today he manages a cafe in Glasgow, while making killer music as The Skinner Group when opportunity presents itself.
Guadalcanal Diary were one of the seminal College Rock bands of the 80s. With a sound forever described as "like REM", over the course of four albums they gained success and respect by playing the pop game by their own rules. But, by the end of the decade the band broke up and frontman Murray Attaway set off for a solo career. Unfortunately, that only last one album, after which he decided to step away from the music business altogether. For the last 25 years, he's lead a life similar to many of us - working in IT and web design.
Carlos Alomar is a legend, plain and simple. Off and on for over 40 years, he was David Bowie's rhythm guitarist, musical director, collaborator, co-songwriter and friend. In the history of Bowie's music, there are fewer people more responsible for the sound than Carlos. Today he is a director at Stevens Institute of Technology and you can tell from this interview that teaching comes naturally to him. He also continues to collaborate with artists lucky enough to have him. He's lead an amazing, charmed life.
Robin Clark might be best known for her time with Simple Minds during the height of their popularity in the mid-80s. She joined them for the Once Upon a Time album, singing on gigantic hits like "Alive and Kicking", "Sanctify Yourself" and "All the Things She Said" and touring the world for a couple years. What you may not have known is that she's been married to David Bowie's rhythm guitarist Carlos Alomar for 45 years and not only did she sing on some of Bowie's most iconic songs ("Young Americans", "Blue Jean"), but was close friends with David since the early 70s. In this conversation, she was gracious enough to allow me to ask her some questions about David and her experience with him. She sheds a unique light on David the man, versus David Bowie The Rock God. Of course we also get deep into Simple Minds, and her longtime friendships with Luther Vandross and Nile Rodgers. She's an amazing lady and this chat is unlike anything you've ever heard.
Joe Frank Carollo is the Joe Frank of popular soft rock group Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds who had a number of hits in the first half of the 70s topped off by the sweet as honey "Fallin' In Love" which reached #1 in 1975. That was their last hit, unfortunately, and after a few years on the casino circuit, Joe Frank focused on the "real job" he had all along, working in camera stores. Dan Hamilton passed away in the 90s and Tommy Reynolds gave up the music industry for his religion, leaving Joe Frank the last man standing. This charming 76 year old southern gentleman tells us what it was like being signed to Playboy Records, how some of their biggest hits came about, how proud he is of his successful composer son, and the band he plays in now.
Lon & Derrek Van Eaton were a singing duo in the early 70s. They partied at Andy Warhol's and open for legends like the Doors, David Bowie and the Moody Blues. In addition to being excellent musicians, what makes them a small part of rock history is the fact they were discovered by the Beatles. George Harrison heard their demo, signed them to Apple records and flew them to England to record their debut album, 1972's Brother. Unfortunately, the album underperformed and Apple went out of business shortly thereafter. Lon and Derrek then relocated to LA where they put out one more album and got work as session musicians. Today, Derrek has settled nicely in the Denver suburbs. His story is pretty fascinating.
Billy Vera and the Beaters can claim one of the flukiest #1 songs in pop history. In 1986 a song they wrote and recorded in 1981. "At This Moment", was chosen to appear in an episode of Family Ties. It caused such a stir that it eventually propelled the song to the top of the charts in January of 1987. What most people probably don't realize is that Billy had already been around for 20 years writing songs for artists like Ricky Nelson and Dolly Parton, not to mention a couple of hits on his own. And, he's continued to reap loads of success since "At This Moment" by diversifying into acting, voice-over, and jingle writing.He's done and seen it all and conquered almost every corner of the music industry.
Reacharound were a killer rock and roll band (think Social Distortion mixed with Rev. Horton Heat) in the mid-90s that had one hit on alternative radio with "Big Chair" in 1996. But, after one album (and only one single) the band was done. Lead singer Matt Caisley has bounced around L.A. working regular jobs while continuing to follow his rock star passions. Today, his primary creative outlet is the more electro-industrial band Former Human Beings. We talk about the highs he experienced in the 90s, the inspiration for his biggest hit, the very ambitious project Former Human Beings are working on now, and why you should never give your band a sexually suggestive name.
I hit David with a list of some of my favorite credits of his. The artists include Scritti Politti, Phil Collins, Steve Winwood, Chaka Khan, Billy Idol, Billy Squier, and Rod Stewart.
David Frank was one half of the highly influential r&b group The System, who released a string of trendsetting dance hits throughout the 80s culminating with their biggest hit, "Don't Disturb This Groove," which hit #4 on the pop charts in 1987. Along with his musical partner Mic Murphy, they did some great soundtrack work on classic films like Beverly Hills Cop, Coming to America, and Beat Street, in which they also appeared. After the duo went on hiatus, David pored himself into writing and producing with upcoming artists like 98 Degrees and Christina Aguilera. He co-wrote her first hit "Genie in a Bottle" which changed his fortunes forever. He's one of the all-time greatest minds in r&b.
Simon Toulson-Clarke is the mastermind behind the incredible, but overlooked, British band Red Box who released their debut album The Circle & The Square in 1986. It is one of the most amazing bursts of creativity I've ever heard on a debut album. Many different genres, especially various styles of world music, are touched upon within an 80s pop construct. As usual, the label wanted to compromise what made the band unique leading to their second album, the also wonderful Motive, being shelved for a couple years before finally eking out in 1990. By then, Simon had had enough and began working behind the scenes. Years later his creative juices began flowing again when he joined forces with his neighbor Derek Adams, who had also done time in a couple iconic 80s British bands. Eventually, they put out a third album under the Red Box moniker in 2010 with Plenty. Randomly enough, Plenty was a huge hit in Poland, where they've maintained a healthy fan base. They're now feverishly working on a fourth album that will hopefully see the light of day in 2016. Red Box is a band that deserves your time and attention. It'll blow your mind.
John Pazdan was a founding member of two of the greatest power pop bands of the 70s. He formed Pezband, but left before their first album came out (he would rejoin in the 80s). He and singer Cliff Johnson left to form Off Broadway, but he only stuck around for that band's debut album, which spawned the #51 US single "Stay in Time" in 1979. In the 90s he was a member of the cowpunk band Big Guitars From Memphis, who were relatively successful at the time, but has mostly been lost to history.
David Bowie has been my #1 since I started keeping track at 10 years old. He's had more impact on me than any other public figure alive in my lifetime. I remember thinking last Friday on his birthday how grateful I was that he was still out there producing art, but it hit me that at 69, I should start mentally preparing myself to see an old David Bowie. That it was time to especially cherish anything and everything he gives us from here on out. Two days later he was gone.
Today, Tony Ortiz is about as regular a guy as it gets. Normal desk job, family, friends, grandkids, a mortgage, etc. But, in 1982 he was on the road to something bigger. Tony was the lead singer of the rock/new wave band The Monroes who's lone single, "What Do All The People Know" was climbing the charts, reaching #59 in the U.S., before the bottom fell out. Just as the Monroes debut EP was also gaining momentum, their Japanese record label went bankrupt grinding everything to a halt and thwarting the hopes and dreams of the band. After a couple more years of trying to pick up the pieces, Tony left for Minnesota, where he settled into a normal life, leaving his rock and roll fantasies behind (and largely unfulfilled). Tony talks about what that brief chapter of his life was like, how it felt to play before 20,000 people, how he's trying again now to make another go of it, and how difficult it is to convince his co-workers that he is in fact the guy singing that song whenever it comes on (and it does a lot, as it's continued on as a cult favorite). These stories are what this podcast is all about!
Dom Mariani is a bit of an underground legend in his native Australia. His career goes back nearly 40 years and in that time he's fronted more bands than I can count. His first real success came with his garage rock band The Stems who got pretty popular down under in the mid-80s. From there he started the band that turned me on to his immense talent, The Someloves who only released one album in 1990. What is clear about Dom is that no matter what band he's in or what style of rock he's playing, there is an amazing level of quality to everything he does. That ability has given him a place in an Australian Songwriters Hall of Fame. Surprisingly, he choses to hold down a day job so that he has the freedom to make whatever music he wants with whatever band he wants without money or fame being the motivator. Get turned on to some great music you may not know already.
The Kane Gang were one of those wonderful bands that came to the states from the UK as part of the Sophisti-pop or Blue-Eyed British Soul movement of the mid-to-late 80s. They only released two albums and had two hits in the states (more back home in the UK), the biggest of which was "Motortown" which reached #36 in 1987. The Kane Gang were done after that, but come to find out lead singer Martin Brammer has carved out a hugely successful songwriting career penning hits for everyone from Tina Turner to Sheena Easton to Nick Carter to the Lighthouse Family. In this conversation, Martin helps us understand exactly what a publishing deal is and how you make a living as a songwriter.
Kurt Maloo wrote and sang one of the most iconic and unique hit songs of all time with "The Captain of Her Heart" which reached #16 in 1986 in the US. That's one of those songs almost everyone knows, but maybe not everyone knows who sings it. Kurt, along with creative partner Felix Haug, put out two albums as Double before disbanding in the late 80s. Unfortunately, Felix passed away in 2004 ending any potential for a Double reunion. But, "Captain" is still a standard and continues to be played all over the world for subsequent generations, which has provided a very nice life for Kurt and has freed him up to continue to forge a solo career on his own terms. Get to know the man behind the song!
The Hooters were a pretty big band back in the mid-to-late 80s with three top 40 hits (and a few others that barely missed). Sadly, sales started to sag around the beginning of the 90s, but the band continues on to this day in some form, still drawing large crowds in parts of Europe. In this interview we talk about fickle American crowds, The Hooters slot playing at Live Aid, Eric and his Hooter partner Rob Hyman's involvement in the recording of Cyndi Lauper's smash debut album She's So Unusual, and him writing Joan Osbourne's "One Of Us", one of the biggest songs of the 90s. Eric remains a relentless artist, praying his muse will point him toward the next big hit.
Dig grew up in Cambridge, Ohio where he was turned on to all genres of music from the Temptations to Alice Cooper. But, what really did it for him was rockabilly, which inspired him to move to New York and start an authentic rockabilly band called Buzz and the Flyers. From there, he headed to London where he fronted the excellent 80s band JoBoxers, who had one of the greatest singles of all time with "Just Got Lucky". That song reached #36 in 1983 in the US, but was their one and only hit and after one album the band dissolved and Dig lost some of his taste for music. Today, Dig is an acting coach in L.A. We go deep on the music and moments that changed our lives forever.
Martin Page is a song-writing legend. Among his biggest hits are "These Dreams" by Heart, "King Of Wishful Thinking" by Go West and the immortal "We Built This City" by Starship, which remains completely ubiquitous despite topping many "worst song of all time" type lists. He started out in a funky synth-pop band called Q-Feel that may be best known for the song "Dancing In Heaven" from the Girls Just Want To Have Fun soundtrack. His song-writing success and collaborations with further artists like Robbie Robertson, Kim Carnes and Earth Wind & Fire have made him one of the most successful songwriters ever. Not to mention, it's freed him up to pursue a successful solo career ("In The House Of Stone and Light") on his own terms. The man is a Hall of Famer, plain and simple.
Randy Hall has had a long and storied career that includes collaborations with legends like Miles Davis, The Jacksons and Ray Parker Jr. as well as his own solo career in the mid to late 80s. It was during that chapter of his life that he made an appearance in the movie Can't Buy Me Love. You remember the African Ant-Eater Ritual scene at the school dance when everyone mindlessly follows Ronald Miller's lead? The guy performing at the dance is Randy Hall. He went on to work with Dr. Dre and Tupac at Deathrow Records before spending the last 20 years or so as Joe Esposito's musical director in Las Vegas. The guy's music is great, but his stories are even better.
You've seen the movies, you've heard the voice, now meet the man. Joe sang or wrote some of the most iconic soundtrack songs of the 80s including "Lady, Lady, Lady" from Flashdance, "Come Into My Life" from Coming to America, "Hearts On Fire" from Rocky 4 and, the legendary, "You're The Best" from The Karate Kid. But, he started in a dance/disco group in the 70s called Brooklyn Dreams where he hooked up with Donna Summer to not only sing on her hit "Heaven Knows" but write "Bad Girls" for her. He's been a successful Vegas act for over 20 years now. He's quite a character with great stories.
RPM was another of those under appreciated bands that deserved way more attention. Robert started as a songwriter for Ronnie Milsap before beginning RPM in the early 80s. After two albums, the second of which, Phonogenic, was produced at Trevor Horn's SARM studios in England, they called it quits due to public indifference. He went on to sing jingles that we all know, sell insurance, Produce the great Peter Wolf, and co-write one of Celine Dion's biggest hits, which would change his financial situation forever. He's now a respected producer in Nashville. Quite a career, the guy's done so much, but if one person comes away from this liking RPM's music I've done my job!
Mike James Kirkland was an excellent soul singer in the 70s, releasing two albums under his own name after a stint with his group Mike and the Censations. While being equally as good as his contemporaries like Marvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield, Mike never reached the same level of stardom. Thankfully, he's becoming one of those highly sought after r&b artists that DJs spend hours searching for. In the late 70s, Mike changed his name to Bo Kirkland and paired up with Ruth Davis to release a string of excellent dance and r&b singles. Today he plays sold out shows occasionally and is a beautiful, thoughtful man who professes his spirituality proudly.