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Richard Barone is a rock musician born in Tampa, Floridamarker. He also works as a songwriter, arranger, author, director, and producer, and releases albums as a solo artist.


Barone began his career at age 7 as 'The Littlest DJ' on a local Tampa top-40 radio station, and later gained attention as the lead singer and songwriter for the Bongos, a new wave band at the center of the early 1980s Hoboken, New Jerseymarker music scene. After their first string of independent singles, released on the U.K.- based Fetish label and compiled for the U.S. as Drums Along the Hudson (PVC), the group signed to RCA Records. The Bongos amassed a fierce cult following and critical acclaim [344270], and Barone began to be recognized for his pop songwriting abilities. [344271] Stepping out as a solo artist, Barone's albums venture into chamber pop, orchestral, and more narrative singer-songwriter territory.

Barone actually released his first solo album, Cool Blue Halo (recorded live at the Bottom Line in New York) before the Bongos' amicable breakup in 1987. Anthony DeCurtis, writing in Rolling Stone, praised Barone's "spare, elegant arrangements" and credits him with fashioning "a kind of rock chamber music." [344272] While Trouser Press described the record as "intimate but confused," [344273] NPR's Tom Moon, in a more recent assessment, called the album "a plaintive masterpiece," and credited Barone with foreshadowing Nirvana's Unplugged performance of Bowie's "The Man Who Sold the World," adding "Cool Blue Halo feels timeless, and maybe even exotic." [344274]

Cool Blue Halo by Richard Barone, album cover.
Two more solo albums followed: the rock-dominated Primal Dream (MCA) in 1990, and the more acoustic-based Clouds Over Eden (WEA) in 1994, the latter dedicated to his late friend, rock journalist Nicholas Schaffner, and bearing a cover portrait by photographer Duane Michals. Trouser Press championed the "fine set of yearning love songs" on Primal Dream, while calling their production and arrangements as a "step backwards" from his debut album. [344275] But, David Browne, writing in Rolling Stone, gave the album four stars and commented that "Barone is fast moving beyond the limited vocabulary of twelve strings and wimp-pop vocals." [344276] Billy Altman, in The New York Times, called his next album, Clouds Over Eden "unquestionably the most fully realized effort of Barone's career," while Trouser Press described the album as "wrenching and thoroughly worthwhile" and "the great album fans always imagined [Barone] making." [344277]

In 1997, Barone released Between Heaven and Cello, an album recorded live at NYC's intimate Fez nightclub, accompanied only by cellist Jane Scarpantoni. A boxed set of his first three solo albums was released in Europe in 2000 as The Big Three. In 2004, he released a limited edition solo anthology entitled, COLLECTION: An Embarrassment of Richard, comprising personal favorites from his back catalogue.

Barone then turned his attention to producing, helming a number of recordings for a variety of artists including a recent duet between Liza Minnelli and pianist Johnny Rodgers, a children's album for former model Jolie Jones, daughter of Quincy Jones, recordings for B-52's frontman Fred Schneider, and others. As a producer/director, he has created large-scale concert events, including tributes to Peggy Lee at Carnegie Hallmarker, the Hollywood Bowlmarker, and Chicagomarker's Ravinia Festivalmarker in 2003 and 2004, and concerts for New York's Central Park SummerStagemarker. According to Barone's official website, more such events are planned for 2010. [344278]

Other projects have included executive producing The Nomi Song DVD (Palm Pictures, 2005), which includes his remix of operatic New Wave countertenor Klaus Nomi's "Total Eclipse"; musical direction and orchestration for Bright Lights, Big City at the New York Theatre Workshop (with Rent director Michael Grief); as well as directing and performing in The Downtown Messiah, a modern interpretation of Handel's baroque oratorio, broadcast annually on over 200 public radio stations nationwide for six consecutive years. His songs and collaborations, including those written with singer-songwriter Jill Sobule, have been heard on several popular television programs, including The West Wing, Dawson's Creekmarker, Felicity, and South of Nowhere.

In 2006, he and the original Bongos reunited in the studio with Moby producing, to create a new version of "The Bulrushes," an early Bongos single, and a music video for the special edition re-issue of the group's debut album. The 27-track collection, Drums Along the Hudson - Special Edition, was released by Cooking Vinyl Records in June 2007. Several Bongos reunion concerts were held, culminating with an outdoor concert in Hoboken, at which the band was honored with a Mayoral Proclamation and "Keys to the City."

In September 2007, Barone's memoir, FRONTMAN: Surviving the Rock Star Myth [344279], was published by Backbeat/Hal Leonard Books, and his complete solo catalog was re-launched at the iTunes Music Store. In late 2007, he began staging a series of 'musical readings' of FRONTMAN, both live and on radio, with excerpts of the book read by television actress Joyce DeWitt and radio personality Vin Scelsa, among others. Musical accompaniment was performed using the new Gibson Les Paul HD.6x-Pro Digital guitar (an instrument to which Barone contributed as artist consultant) in surround sound. On his birthday, October 1, 2008, he brought FRONTMAN: A Musical Reading to the stage at Carnegie Hallmarker in New York Citymarker, with "Special Guests and Legendary Friends," including Moby, Lou Reed, The Band's Garth Hudson, Marshall Crenshaw, Terre and Suzzy Roche, Randy Brecker, Carlos Alomar, and many others. The concert was held as a benefit for public radio station WFUVmarker 90.7 FM in New York. [344280]

In July 2009, Barone entered the recording studio to complete production work on the album he began, at age 16, for legendary performer Tiny Tim. The album, "I've Never Seen A Straight Banana," was released on October 20, 2009 on Collector's Choice Records [344281].

Barone lives in Greenwich Villagemarker, where he recently completed tracks for his new album, GLOW [344282] with veteran producer Tony Visconti (David Bowie, T.Rex). Also working with Barone on the project were producers Mike Thorne (Soft Cell, Bronski Beat, Communards, Wire), Steve Rosenthal (Lou Reed, Monster Magnet), Steve Addabbo (Suzanne Vega, Shawn Colvin), songwriter Paul Williams, engineer Leslie Ann Jones at Skywalker Sound, photographer Mick Rock and others. GLOW is currently being released via iTunes and as a series of 3-song EPs and singles.


Solo albums

  • GLOW (2008), Produced by Tony Visconti, Steve Addabbo, Steve Rosenthal, Mike Thorne, and Richard Barone - ITunes Store
  • Collection: An Embarrassment of Richard (2004) - Compilation; ITunes Store
  • The Big Three (2000) - Box set; Line Records, Germany
  • Between Heaven and Cello (1997) - Live; Line Records, Germany
  • Clouds over Eden (1993), Produced by Hugh Jones - MESA Bluemoon/Atlantic Records
  • Primal Dream (1990), Produced by Richard Gottehrer and Don Dixon - MCA Records
  • Cool Blue Halo (1987), Recorded live at the Bottom Line, New York City - Passport Records


  • Nuts and Bolts (1983), with James Mastro. Produced by Mitch Easter - Passport Records

With The Bongos


  • FRONTMAN: Surviving the Rock Star Myth, Backbeat/Hal Leonard Books, 2007, ISBN 0-87930-912-1, ISBN 978-0-87930-912-1

See also


External links

Richard Barone
Other musicians and collaborators: Jane Scarpantoni - Fred Schneider - Paul Williams - Mick Rock - Moby - Lou Reed- Garth Hudson - Donovan - Duane Michals - Nancy Sinatra - Bea Arthur - Jill Sobule - Tiny Tim - David Johansen - Rolan Bolan - Throbbing Gristle - Gary Lucas - Terre Roche - Amy Rigby - Vin Scelsa - Joyce DeWitt - Randy Brecker - Carlos Alomar - Leslie Ann Jones - Sophie Ellis-Bextor - The Bongos
Producers: Tony Visconti - Richard Gottehrer - Don Dixon - Hugh Jones - Mitch Easter
Albums: Cool Blue Halo - Primal Dream - Clouds Over Eden - Between Heaven and Cello - Glow
Compilations: The Big Three - COLLECTION: An Embarrassment of Richard
Soundtracks and Television: Next Year In Jerusalem - The Nomi Song - The West Wing - Dawson's Creekmarker - Felicity - South Of Nowhere

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