Artist profiles: David Byrne

David Byrne – Photo by Danny Clinch

Born May 14, 1952 in Dumbarton, Scotland and raised in Baltimore (Maryland, USA), David Byrne has come a long way from playing guitar in high school bands and solo performances on the ukulele in Providence, Rhode Island. Perhaps best known as the energetic front man for the new wave group Talking Heads, Byrne has cast a much larger net over art world as a photographer, film editor, author and solo artist.

Byrne teamed with Chris Frantz, Tina Weymouth and Jerry Harrison, formed the Talking Heads and released their first album, Talking Heads 77 in 1977. The group was to release 18 more albums with such critically acclaimed recordings as Speaking in Tongues, Stop Making Sense and Remain in Light. The band’s popularity has long outlived the group’s dissolution in 1988 with the latest release being a 2005 boxed set, Talking Heads Brick, of the group’s studio recordings.

The success of the group afforded Byrne the opportunity to cast his creative eye in other, maybe not so profitable, directions by scoring the Twyla Tharp ballet, The Catherine Wheel, directing music videos and recording My Life in the Bush of Ghosts with collaborator and Talking Heads’ producer Brian Eno. There was Byrne’s solo work in The Knee Plays, a theater piece of New Orleans based brass band and spoken word score directed by Robert Wilson. Jonathan Demme directed the film Stop Making Sense using the Talking Head’s 1983 tour.

In 1986 Byrne wrote, starred and directed the movie True Stories, and collaborated on the score for the movie The Last Emperor in 1987 with Bernardo Bertolucci. Byrne along with Ryuichi Sakamoto and Cong Su shared the Academy Award for The Last Emperor.

The Forest’s (1989) theatrical score and directing Ilé Aiyé: The House of Life 1989 documentary were two more projects bearing David Byrne’s creative mark.

In 1988, David Byrne founded the Luaka Bop record label devoted to Byrne’s love of world music. In 1989, Byrne worked with such greats as Ruben Blades, Celia Cruz, Tito Puente, Wilfredo Vargas and Brazil’s Os Paralamas do Sucesso and released Rei Momo. The recording sampled the rumba, the samba, the cumbia and the plena. The Luaka Bop label had produced such artists as Susana Baca, Tom Ze, Nouvelle Vague and Los Amigos Invisibles.

Byrne has continued to work, writing the music for the film Young Adam (2003) and recording in 2004 Grown Backwards, appearing on Nonesuch Records.

Discography

* Talking Heads ’77, with Talking Heads (1977)
* More Songs About Buildings and Food, with Talking Heads (1978)
* Fear of Music, with Talking Heads (1979)
* Remain in Light, with Talking Heads (1980)
* My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, with Brian Eno (1981)
* The Name of This Band is Talking Heads, with Talking Heads (1982)
* Speaking in Tongues, with Talking Heads (1983)
* Stop Making Sense, with Talking Heads (1984)
* Little Creatures, with Talking Heads (1985)
* True Stories, with Talking Heads (1986)
* Naked, with Talking Heads (1988)
* Rei Momo (1989)
* The Forest (1991)
* Popular Favorites: Sand In The Vaseline, with Talking Heads (1992)
* Uh-Oh (1992)
* David Byrne (1994)
* Feelings (1997)
* The Visible Man (1997)
* Stop Making Sense: Special New Edition, with Talking Heads (1999)
* Look Into The Eyeball (2001)
* Once in a Lifetime Boxed Set, with Talking Heads (2003)
* Grown Backwards (2004)
* Talking Heads Brick, with Talking Heads (Boxed Set, Dual Disc) (2005)
* Knee Plays (Nonesuch, 2007)
* Everything That Happens Will Happen Today (2008)
* Love This Giant, with St. Vincent (4AD, 2012)

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.

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