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David Byrne Biography

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David Byrne In-depth Biography

Best known for his groundbreaking tenure fronting the New Wave group Talking Heads}, David Byrne's} solo work, while not as successful, was no less adventurous, encroaching upon such diverse media as world music, filmmaking and performance art. Born May 14, 1952 in Dumbarton, Scotland, Byrne} was raised in Baltimore, Maryland. The son of an electronics engineer, he played guitar in a series of teenage bands before attending the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design, where, feeling alienated from the largely upper-class student population, he dropped out after one year. However, he remained in the Providence area, performing solo on a ukelele before forming the Artistics (also known as the Autistics) with fellow students Chris Frantz} and Tina Weymouth}.

After changing the name of the band to Talking Heads} and enlisting onetime Modern Lover} Jerry Harrison}, the group signed to Sire Records; a series of LPs, including the debut Talking Heads '77}, 1978's More Songs About Buildings and Food} and 1980's Remain in Light} followed, establishing the quartet as one of contemporary music's most visionary talents. During a band sabbatical in 1981, Byrne} teamed with Brian Eno}, the producer of much of the Heads'} work, for the collaborative effort My Life in the Bush of Ghosts}, a complex, evocative album which fused electronic music with Third World percussion and hypnotic vocal effects. That same year, Byrne} also began exploring theatre, composing The Complete Score From the Broadway Production of 'The Catherine Wheel,'} a dance piece choreographed by Twyla Tharp.

Byrne's} next solo work appeared in 1985 with Music for 'The Knee Plays,'} a New Orleans brass band-influenced project composed for a portion of Robert Wilson's theatrical epic CIVIL warS}. In 1986, Byrne} wrote, starred in and directed the feature film True Stories}, a series of comic vignettes based on press clippings culled from tabloid publications like the Weekly World News}. He also wrote and produced the majority of music for the film's score in addition to performing his usual duties for that year's Talking Heads} LP, also named True Stories}. In 1988, he wrote the score to the Jonathan Demme comedy Married to the Mob} and, in tandem with Ryuichi Sakamoto} and Cong Su}, won an Academy Award for his musical work on Bernardo Bertolucci's historical epic The Last Emperor}.

Also in 1988, Byrne's} fascination with world music, a longtime influence on his herky-jerky performance style as well as the Talking Heads'} complex polyrhythms, inspired him to form his own record label, Luaka Bop, to give widespread American release to global music. That same year, the Heads} released Naked}, their final proper LP, leaving Byrne} to give future solo work his full attention. In 1989, he resurfaced with Rei Momo}, a collection inspired by Latin rhythms, and also directed the documentary Ile Aiye (The House of Life)}, which focused on the rituals of Yoruban dance music. In 1991, he again collaborated with Robert Wilson} on The Forest}, writing music for a full orchestra. 1992's Uh-Oh} marked Byrne's} return to more conventional rock performance, a direction continued on a self-titled effort issued in 1994. Feelings}, recorded with members of Morcheeba} and Devo}, followed in 1997. Four years later, Look Into the Eyeball} was issued on Virgin Records/Luaka Bop} and captured Byrne's signature wry humor and musical diversity. In 2003, Byrne}'s music for the film Young Adam} (featuring members of Belle & Sebastian} and Mogwai}) was released as Lead Us Not into Temptation} by the Thrill Jockey} label. Grown Backwards}, his first for Nonesuch}, appeared a year later. ~ Jason Ankeny, All Music Guide

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