Curt Smith (Tears for Fears)
English American musician Curt Smith was born 24 June 1961, Bath, Somerset, England. Smith grew up in Bath, England, and lived on the Snow Hill council estate (subject of the track “Snow Hill”). He attended the Beechen Cliff School. He is best known for forming the band Tears for Fears, along with childhood friend Roland Orzabal. As a solo artist, he has released four full-length albums.Smith met Roland Orzabal when both were teenagers. They first formed a band in their teens, for which Smith taught himself to play bass guitar. They next formed the ska influenced band Graduate, releasing an album in 1980 achieving minor success in Europe. Smith and Orzabal also became session musicians for the band Neon. Fellow band members included Pete Byrne and Rob Fisher who went on to become the duo Naked Eyes. After Graduate and Neon disbanded, Smith and Orzabal founded Tears for Fears in 1981. Their debut album, 1983’s The Hurting, reached no.1 in the UK and produced three international hit singles – “Mad World”, “Change”, and “Pale Shelter” – each with lead vocals performed by Smith.
Their 1985 album Songs from the Big Chair was even more successful, yielding hits including “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” (with Smith again on lead vocals), “Shout,” and “Head Over Heels” (which Smith co-wrote). The duo spent the next several years recording their 1989 album The Seeds of Love, which proved to be another international best-seller. Smith’s last single as a lead vocalist with the group (and his only lead vocal track on the album) was “Advice for the Young at Heart”. Following another world tour, increasing tensions between himself and Orzabal prompted Smith to leave the band in 1991 and he moved to New York.
In 2000, routine legal paperwork obligations led to Orzabal and Smith’s first conversation in nearly a decade. The two patched up their differences and, along with Smith’s associate Charlton Pettus, began writing a new album – Everybody Loves a Happy Ending – released in 2004. Prior to this, “Mad World” was covered by Michael Andrews and Gary Jules for the soundtrack of film Donnie Darko. It was released as a single and reached no.1 in the UK during Christmas 2003. The single re-ignited interest in the group’s earlier work and their 1992 Greatest Hits album was re-released and re-entered the UK Top 10 for several weeks, garnering its second UK platinum disc.
After leaving Tears for Fears, Smith released his first solo album, Soul on Board, in 1993. The album was unsuccessful in the UK, and was not released at all in the U.S. After moving to New York, Smith formed the band Mayfield with guitarist-producer Charlton Pettus and which also featured Russ Irwin. According to Smith, the name of the band was a play on words (Curt is Mayfield) based on the name of the legendary American soul singer Curtis Mayfield. The band was mostly a live act but did release a self-titled album in 1997, which met with little success. Smith later released the album Aeroplane under his own name. In the U.S., this was a six song EP, but in Canada and elsewhere, it was essentially the earlier Mayfield album combined with additional songs from the U.S. EP. In October 2011, Smith announced on his website that he will re-release the Mayfield album on 15 November 2011. The new release, on his KOOK Media label, will include a bonus version of the song “Trees” featuring Janice Whaley
In April 2007, French record label XIII Bis Records released Halfway, Pleased in France. Its 14 tracks included the original version of “Who You Are” (which was recorded by Tears for Fears on Everybody Loves a Happy Ending); a live version of “Snow Hill” from the 2005 Tears for Fears UK tour; the single version of “Seven of Sundays” (also recorded as a duet with French singer SO); and a cover of “On Ira Tous au Paradis” (also available on A Tribute to Polnareff). Two music videos were made for “Seven of Sundays” – one as a solo track, and one as the duet with SO. All the songs except “Seven of Sundays” were co-written by Smith and Pettus. The solo version of “Seven of Sundays” was co-written by Pettus and Chesney Hawkes; Smith released the album in the U.S. and the rest of the world in May 2008. The KOOK release features a slightly different track listing, eliminating the Polnareff tribute and adding two new acoustic tracks (“Coming Out” and “Seven of Sundays”).
Smith has made limited live concert appearances in the Los Angeles area to support Halfway, pleased. In January 2009, he announced that he will perform a weekly residency at The Standard Hollywood in West Hollywood, CA during the month of February 2009.In July 2013 Smith released his fourth solo album, his first since 2008. In January 2010, Smith released the standalone single “All Is Love (featuring Zoë Keating),” The second track in the series, “Perfectly…Still (featuring Universal Hall Pass)” was released in August 2010.mSmith occasionally collaborates with other artists. He worked with the French singer So (Sophie Saillet) providing vocals on her track “Les Autres”, and the pair worked together again on Smith’s track “Seven of Sundays” (Saillet also appeared in both videos for the song). Smith is also featured on The Shadow Bureau’s 2011 track “Don’t Give Yourself Away” with artist Linda Strawberry, inspired by the 2010 Australian film Griff the Invisible. Smith and longtime collaborator Charlton Pettus also composed and recorded the score for the 2011 film Meth Head, starring Lukas Haas. Smith contributed an original song, “This Is Christmas”, to an episode of the fifth season of the TV series Psych.
In August 2010, Smith debuted a live music web series, “Stripped Down Live With Curt Smith”,which he produces along with his manager Arlene Wszalek and Streamin’ Garage CEO Mike Rotman. Each episode is devoted to a single featured artist. The band or musician plays acoustic versions of their songs (the show is streamed live via UStream), Smith interviews them between sets. guests have included Hypnogaja, Carina Round, Chris Pierce, Peter Himmelman, Common Rotation, Gary Jules, All Day Sucker, The Daylights, Matthew Sweet, The Fallen Stars, Nightmare & The Cat, Whiskey Saints, Fitz & The Tantrums and Friendly Indians. In 1988, Smith appeared at the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute performing “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”, with accompanying musicians Phil Collins, Midge Ure, and Mark Brzezicki on stage.In 1989, Smith appeared onstage with various other performers at Stevie Wonder’s birthday concert at London’s Wembley Arena.
Smith has also tried his hand at acting. He had a minor role as a desk clerk in The Dead Connection (1994), had a more significant role as a professor in 2000’s The Private Public and made a surprise appearance to open Psych’s 2010 Comic Con panel, singing onstage with Psych co-stars James Roday and Dulé Hill. He appeared, in the “Psych” episode “Shawn 2.0”,and also wrote a variation of the opening theme. His single “This is Christmas” appeared in the episode “The Polarizing Express”. He again appeared as himself in the show’s 100th episode, “100 Clues”, and the episode “A Nightmare on State Street” as himself. In May 2009, Smith performed at the Artist for the Arts Foundation benefit at Barnum Hall, Santa Monica High School, Santa Monica, California. Performing live, alongside Colin Hay (Men at Work), Fee Waybill (The Tubes) & Venice (Crazy on You) and over 70 members of the Santa Monica High School (SaMoHi) Orchestra and Girls Choir. In 2014, Smith appeared in the horror film Crazy Bitches as a Police Detective.The song “Mannequin”, from the album Deceptively Heavy, was also used as the theme song for the movie.