Curt Smith (born 24 June 1961) is an English singer, songwriter, musician, record producer, and co-founding member of the pop rock band Tears for Fears along with childhood friend Roland Orzabal. As well as playing bass guitar, Smith sang lead vocals on several Tears for Fears hits such as "Mad World", "Pale Shelter", "Change", "The Way You Are" and "Everybody Wants to Rule the World".
Smith in 2008
|Born||24 June 1961|
|Origin||Bath, Somerset, England|
After his departure from Tears for Fears in 1991, Smith pursued a solo career and released his debut album Soul on Board in 1993. In total, he has released five studio albums and one EP, and has also dabbled in acting. He reunited with Orzabal, as Tears for Fears, in 2000.
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, who released their only album in 1980 achieving minor success in Europe. Around this time, 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.
Tears for FearsEdit
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.
Soul on BoardEdit
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. Smith later claimed that he made the album purely to fulfil his record contract with Mercury/Phonogram.
Mayfield and AeroplaneEdit
After moving to New York, Smith formed the band Mayfield with guitarist-producer Charlton Pettus and which also featured Russ Irwin & Doug Petty on keyboards, Smith himself on bass and vocals and finally Shawn Pelton on drums. 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 1998, which met with little success.
Smith later released the album Aeroplane under his own name. In the U.S., this was a six-track 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.
During 2000, Smith began work on what was to become Halfway, Pleased, but the project was put on hold when he re-established contact with Roland Orzabal again after almost a decade of silence. Their conversations culminated in Tears for Fears reforming for 2004's Everybody Loves a Happy Ending which led to a worldwide tour, so it wasn't until 2006 that Smith resumed work on Halfway, Pleased. The semi-autobiographical album explores Smith's relationships with his children, parents and friends.
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 Charlton Pettus. The solo version of "Seven of Sundays" was co-written by Pettus and Chesney Hawkes; Smith and Sophie Saillet helped adapt the song for the duet version.
Smith finally released the album in the U.S. and the rest of the world in May 2008 via his own KOOK Media label. 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"). It was released under a Creative Commons license which allows fans to distribute, perform and use the songs so long as the uses are non-commercial and attributed to Smith.
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. He announced in mid-February that The Standard had asked him to extend through March 2009 and he agreed. He played a similar residency there in October 2008.
Smith's fourth solo album was released on 16 July 2013.
"The Social Media Project"Edit
In January 2010, Smith released the standalone single "All Is Love" (featuring Zoë Keating), the first track in what he says will be an album-length project of collaborations with artists he meets via social media. Smith met Keating, an avant-garde cellist, via Twitter. The second track in the series, "Perfectly...Still (featuring Universal Hall Pass)" was released in August 2010. A fan of Smith's suggested the collaboration via Twitter; Smith contacted UHP (aka Melissa R. Kaplan) via the MySpace service. As of January 2012 Smith's site lacks any specific details but claims "More tracks coming in 2011!".
Smith 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. In May 2011, Smith tweeted that he was working on a track with JunkieXL which features on JXL's album Synthesized. He also recorded a vocal track for the American punk band American Eyes on their song entitled The Day We Died on their album Never Trust Anything That Bleeds.
Stripped Down Live With Curt SmithEdit
In August 2010, Smith debuted a live music web series, "Stripped Down Live With Curt Smith", which he produced along with his manager Arlene Wszalek and Streamin' Garage CEO Mike Rotman. Each episode was devoted to a single featured artist. The band or musician played acoustic versions of their songs (the show was streamed live via UStream); Smith interviewed them between sets, as well as took viewer questions via Skype and the show's chat room. Smith's guests 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 January 2011, Smith stated that he won't do another season of the series.
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.
Smith is an avid user and advocate of social media. Since 2008, he has been asked to speak at a variety of social media, technology and creative conferences, including 140TC, the Creative Commons Los Angeles Salon, the 2010 ITV Fest, TEDxHollywood, and TEDxSF. He has also guest-lectured at the USC Annenberg School's graduate Online Communities program.
Smith has also tried his hand at acting. He had a minor role as a desk clerk in The Dead Connection (1994), and a more significant role as a professor in 2000's The Private Public. Smith made a surprise appearance to open Psych's 2010 Comic Con panel, where he sang onstage with Psych co-stars James Roday and Dulé Hill. Roday's character Shawn Spencer makes several proclamations throughout the series about his admiration for Tears for Fears, especially Smith. He then appeared, as himself, in the "Psych" episode "Shawn 2.0", an episode for which he also wrote a variation of the opening theme. His single "This is Christmas" later appeared in the episode "The Polarizing Express". He again appeared as himself in the show's 100th episode, "100 Clues", in March 2013. He also appeared in 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, the benefit helped to provide funds for the continuation of Music Education in public schools.
In September 2016, Smith and his drummer Jamie Wollam appeared in the "Orchard" with Ted Yoder to accompany him on a re-recording of his popular rendition of Everybody Wants to Rule the World played on the hammered dulcimer.
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.
Smith has been married twice. His first wife was Lynda "Lynne" Altman, whom he married in 1982. They divorced in 1988, and he then began a relationship with marketing executive Laura "Frances" Pennington. They married in 1996 and now live in Los Angeles with their two daughters, Diva and Wilder, born in 1999 and 2001. Smith became a naturalised U.S. citizen in 2007. He is a supporter of Manchester United and Los Angeles Galaxy.
- Aeroplane (2000)
- Mayfield (1998)
- Stephen Thomas Erlewine. "Tears for Fears – Music Biography, Credits and Discography". AllMusic.
- Tears for Fears – iTunes interview. 2004.
- "Mayfield". curtsmith.bandcamp.com.
- Katie Hasty (14 March 2008). "Tears for Fears' Smith Goes 'Halfway' Solo". Billboard.
- "Curt Smith Releases "Halfway, Pleased"". Creative Commons. 22 May 2008.
- "Curt Smith/Tears for Fears - Interview part 1 (Creative Commons)". YouTube. 10 March 2009.
- "iTunes Preview - Deceptively Heavy - Curt Smith". iTunes. 16 July 2013.
- Barb Dybwad (23 February 2010). "Tears for Fears' Curt Smith Talks Twitter and Solo Career [INTERVIEW]". Mashable.
- "New Music: Curt Smith of Tears For Fears". doyouhearthemusic.com. 5 August 2010.
- "Voice of Gaia: Strawberry". soundiron.com.
- "Taking time off from movie to do JunkieXL track. It's sounding pretty weird and wonderful :)". Twitter. 18 May 2011.
- Jeff Benjamin (26 October 2011). "Watch Tears For Fears's Curt Smith's Video Q&A On Scoring 'Meth Head,' Making Music Today @ Billboard Film & TV Music Conf". Billboard.
- Liz Shannon (20 July 2010). "Tears for Fears' Curt Smith To Host Stripped Down Live – Tech News and Analysis". Newteevee.com.
- on YouTube
- "Twitter users have first conference | Metro News". Metro.co.uk. 23 September 2009.
- "CC Salon LA (6/26/08): Curt Smith and Monk Turner Discuss CC/Music". Creative Commons. 19 June 2008.
- "Curt Smith - Biography". CD Baby.
- "TEDxHollywood 2010". Tedxhollywood.eventbrite.com. 5 June 2010.
- "TEDxSF - Curt Smith". tedxsf.org.
- "Thanks to @curtsmith for coming out to USC tonight! The whole class learned so much!". Twitter. 19 January 2011.
- "Curt Smith The Private Public (2000)". YouTube. 12 February 2008.
- "Comic-Con 2010: Psych ("Shout" - with Curt Smith!)". YouTube. 22 July 2010.
- "Curt Smith Talks 'Psych' Episode 5.08 'Shawn 2.0'". MovieWeb.
- Joseph Dilworth Jr. (15 December 2010). "Psych TV Series - Curt Smith – This is Christmas". popculturezoo.com.
- Heather Donmoyer (27 March 2013). "'Psych' Season 7, Episode 5 Review – Tears and Fears and 100 Clues". screenrant.com.
- Russ Burlingame (20 March 2014). "A Nightmare on State Street". comicbook.com.
- "Curt Smith of Tears for Fears and Ted Yoder". YouTube. 28 September 2016.
- "Curt Smith – Tears for Fears, 80's pop, British, band, music, new wave, singer, song writer, Curt Smith". Lipstick Tracez. Archived from the original on 7 January 2014.
- "Curt Smith". Twitter.