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Michael Curb (born December 24, 1944, in Savannah, Georgiamarker) is an Americanmarker musician, record company executive, race car owner (in both NASCAR and IRL), and Republican Party (GOP) politician who served as Lieutenant Governor of California from 1979-1983 during the second administration of Democratic Governor Edmund G. "Jerry" Brown, Jr. He is also the founder of Curb Records, an independent record label.

Early career in music

As a freshman at San Fernando Valley State College, (now California State University at Northridgemarker), Curb worked in the practice rooms of the Department of Music to write the breakthrough song that helped launch his career — "You Meet the Nicest People on a Honda (Go Little Honda)". He left college in 1963 at the age of 19, as his success in the music business accelerated: his first record company, Sidewalk Records (a predecessor of Curb Records) launched the careers of West Coast rock and roll artists such as The Stone Poneys (featuring Linda Ronstadt), The Arrows (featuring Davie Allan) and the Electric Flag (featuring Mike Bloomfield and Buddy Miles).

Curb did the musical scoring for the short film, Skaterdater (1965); he later scored Peter Fonda's Wild Angels (1966) and The Born Losers (1967) - the first of the Billy Jack films - among others. In 1969, he merged his company with MGM and became President of MGM Records and Verve Records. Curb composed or supervised over 50 motion picture soundtracks and wrote over 400 songs.

Curb organized his own musical group, The Mike Curb Congregation in the 1960s; they had a Top 40 pop hit in early 1971 with the title cut from their album "Burning Bridges" (written and composed by Lalo Schifrin) which was used as the theme of Clint Eastwood's film Kelly's Heroes. They also sang the theme from The Magic Garden of Stanley Sweetheart, and their hit recording of "It's a Small World" was chosen by Disneylandmarker as the park's official tune. The group was featured on Sammy Davis, Jr.'s number-one Billboard Hot 100 hit of 1972, "The Candy Man" (from the motion picture Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory) and in 1978, the Mike Curb Congregation was featured in the musical The Magic of Lassie, starring James Stewart. They recorded "Together, a New Beginning" in 1980, the theme song for Ronald Reagan's successful presidential bid that year. The Mike Curb Congregation were weekly regulars on Glen Campbell's CBS' National Network Television Show.

In 1969 Curb signed Christian rock pioneer Larry Norman to Capitol Recordsmarker.

In the 1970s, Curb wrote for and produced Roy Orbison, the Osmond Family, Lou Rawls, Sammy Davis Jr. and Solomon Burke; he also signed artists such as the Sylvers, Eric Burdon, War, Richie Havens, the Five Man Electrical Band, Gloria Gaynor, Johnny Bristol, Exile and The Four Seasons. Curb composed "It Was A Good Time" for Liza Minnelli's Emmy Award Winning "Liza with a Z". He also received BMI awards for composing "Burning Bridges" for Clint Eastwood's "Kelly's Heroes" and for composing "All for the Love of Sunshine" which was Hank Williams, Jr's. first #1 Record.

Politics

Curb was encouraged to enter politics in part by Ronald Reagan. Curb ran for lieutenant governor of Californiamarker, and was elected in November 1978, even though the Republican gubernatorial nominee, Evelle J. Younger, lost to the incumbent Democratic governor, Jerry Brown. For much of 1979 and the first half of 1980, Brown was out of state, seeking the Democratic nomination for President of the United States against the embattled incumbent, Jimmy Carter. For approximately one year, Curb served in Brown's absence to take on the role of acting governor, sometimes vetoing legislation or issuing executive order, yielding results that were at odds with Brown's liberal politics. Curb's actions resulted in litigation, but his legal right to act when Brown was out of state was upheld by the Supreme Court, setting an important precedent for future lieutenant governors.

Despite being seen briefly as one of the GOP's rising stars and being promised a bright political future by some national Republican leaders, Curb narrowly lost the Republican gubernatorial nomination in 1982 to attorney general George Deukmejian.

While three Republicans — Deukmejian, Pete Wilson, and Arnold Schwarzenegger — have served as governor of California since Curb left office, no Republican has been elected lieutenant governor since his single term.

Later career in music

Returning to the music industry, Curb established Curb Records. He moved to Nashville, Tennesseemarker, in 1994, where his company records for artists such as Wynonna Judd, LeAnn Rimes, Hank Williams, Jr., Hank III, Tim McGraw, Kimberley Locke, Sawyer Brown, Rodney Atkins, Heidi Newfield and others. Curb is an equity partner in the gospel music company Word Label Group, in cooperation with Warner Music Group.

Involvement in car racing

A stock car racing enthusiast, Curb is the owner of the Curb-Agajanian Performance Group, a team in NASCAR's Busch Series until 2006. Curb's sponsorship and ownership have included three of NASCAR's most celebrated drivers: he previously owned Richard Petty's famed #43 in 1984 and 1985, including the 199th and 200th career wins for Petty. Curb was also a sponsor for Dale Earnhardt during his 1980 Winston Cup championship winning season, and sponsored Darrell Waltrip's #12 Toyota Tundra in the Craftsman Truck Series, driven by Joey Miller in 2006. Curb-Agajanian has also run cars for many years in the Indianapolis 500marker including Top Ten finishes such as Billy Boat .

In November 2007, Curb purchased the remaining interest in Brewco Motorsports from Clarence Brewer of Central City, Kentuckymarker, making him co-owner with Gary Baker. Forming Baker-Curb Motorsports competing in the NASCAR Nationwide Series in 2008 in the #27 and #37 cars. Operations have been moved to Nashville, TN.

Public honors

In Nashvillemarker, Curb has become a civic leader and benefactor of Belmont Universitymarker, where his donation toward the construction of a new arena resulted in it being named the Curb Event Centermarker. The University also runs "The Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business." He also endowed the Curb Center and the Curb Creative Campus program at Vanderbilt Universitymarker and the Mike Curb Institute of Music at Rhodes Collegemarker in Memphismarker.

In August 2006 Curb pledged $10 million to California State University, Northridgemarker (in Los Angelesmarker) to endow his alma mater's arts college and provide a lead gift for the university's planned regional performing arts center that will serve as a "learning laboratory" for students. Of the $10 million gift, $5 million will support CSUN's College of Arts, Media, and Communication, one of the university's largest colleges that offers degree and certificate programs for more than 4,400 students. Four million of that will go into a general endowment for the college, and $1 million will endow a faculty chair specializing in music industry studies. As a result, the college was named in his honor.

In 2003, Curb was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall Of Fame.

In 2001, Curb was inducted into the Junior Achievement U.S. Business Hall of Fame.

On June 29, 2007, Curb was honored with the 2,341st star on the Hollywood Walk of Famemarker.

References

  1. "Larry (David) Norman", Encyclopedia of Evangelicalism, ed. Randall Herbert Balmer (Westminster John Knox Press, 2002):411.
  2. In re the Petition of the Commission on the Governorship of California (Brown v. Curb), 26 Cal. 3d 110.
  3. California State University, Northridge


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