Mark Allen Mothersbaugh (//; born May 18, 1950) is an American singer, songwriter, composer, multi-instrumentalist, record producer, author and visual artist.
Mothersbaugh performing live with Devo, 2007
Mark Allen Mothersbaugh
May 18, 1950
Akron, Ohio, U.S.
Mothersbaugh came to prominence in the late 1970s as co-founder, lead singer, keyboardist of the new wave band Devo, whose "Whip It" was a Top 20 single in the US in 1980 and which has since maintained a cult following. Mothersbaugh is one of the main composers of Devo's music.
In addition to his work with Devo, Mothersbaugh has made music for television series, films and video games via his production company, Mutato Muzika. He composed the music for the 13-year-run of the animated series Rugrats and its three related theatrical films. As a solo musician, Mothersbaugh has released four studio albums: Muzik for Insomniaks, Muzik for the Gallery, Joyeux Mutato and The Most Powerful Healing Muzik in the Entire World.
In 2004, he received the Richard Kirk award at the BMI Film and TV Awards for his contributions to film and television music. In 2008, Mothersbaugh received an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Kent State University, his alma mater.
His lifelong interest in creating multimedia art pieces has resulted in gallery exhibitions of items such as his "Beautiful Mutants" photograph series, postcard diaries, art rugs, sculptures and musical instruments created from salvaged organ pipes and bird vocalizations. He has married twice and is the father of two adopted children.
Mark Allen Mothersbaugh was born on May 18, 1950, in Akron, Ohio. His parents are Mary Margaret ("Mig") and Robert Mothersbaugh, Sr. He grew up with two younger brothers, Bob and Jim, who are both musicians, and two sisters, Amy and Susan. His father appeared in early Devo films and fan events as the character General Boy and his brothers participated in the band, although Jim's tenure was brief, appearing only on several early demos.
Mothersbaugh attended Kent State University as an art student, where he met Devo co-founders Gerald Casale and Bob Lewis. In early 1970, Lewis and Casale formed the idea of the "devolution" of the human race after Casale's friend Jeffrey Miller was killed by Ohio National Guardsmen on university grounds during what came to be known as the Kent State shootings. Intrigued by the concept, Mothersbaugh joined them, building upon it with elements of early post-structuralist ideas and oddball arcana, most notably unearthing the infamous Jocko-Homo Heavenbound pamphlet (the basis for the song "Jocko Homo"). This association culminated in 1973, when the trio started to play music as Devo.
Following the commercial failure of their sixth studio album Shout, Warner Bros. dropped Devo. Shortly after, claiming to feel creatively unfulfilled, drummer Alan Myers left the band, causing the remaining band members to abandon the plans for a Shout video LP, as well as a tour.
In 1987, Devo reformed with new drummer David Kendrick, formerly of Sparks, to replace Myers. Their first project was a soundtrack for the flop horror film Slaughterhouse Rock, starring Toni Basil and they released the albums Total Devo (1988) and Smooth Noodle Maps (1990), on Enigma.
Devo had a falling-out and played two shows in 1991 before breaking up. Around this time, members of Devo appeared in the film The Spirit of '76, except for Bob Mothersbaugh. In 1989, Mark Mothersbaugh established Mutato Muzika, a commercial music production studio, hiring Ryan Moore and Bob Casale; Bob Mothersbaugh was also involved.
In 2006, Devo worked with Disney on the Devo 2.0 project: a band of child performers was assembled to re-record Devo songs. The Akron Beacon Journal wrote, "Devo recently finished a new project in cahoots with Disney called Devo 2.0, which features the band playing old songs and two new ones with vocals provided by children. Their debut album, a two disc CD/DVD combo entitled DEV2.0, was released on March 14, 2006. The lyrics of some of the songs were changed for family-friendly airplay, which has been claimed by the band to be a play on irony of the messages of their classic hits. Mothersbaugh doesn't rule out the idea of the band gathering in the studio, eventually, to record a new Devo album." The album, Something for Everybody was eventually released in June 2010, preceded by a 12" single of "Fresh"/"What We Do".
Devo was awarded the first Moog Innovator Award on October 29, 2010, during Moogfest 2010 in Asheville, North Carolina. The award aims to celebrate "pioneering artists whose genre-defying work exemplifies the bold, innovative spirit of Bob Moog". Devo was scheduled to perform at Moogfest, but canceled three days beforehand after Mothersbaugh injured his hand. He and Gerald Casale collaborated with Austin, Texas, band The Octopus Project to perform "Girl U Want" and "Beautiful World" at the event instead.
In 1989, Mothersbaugh and other members of Devo were involved in the project Visiting Kids, releasing a self-titled EP on the New Rose label in 1990. The group featured his then-wife Nancye Ferguson, as well as David Kendrick, Bob Mothersbaugh, and Bob's daughter Alex Mothersbaugh. Mothersbaugh co-wrote some of the songs, and produced the album with Bob Casale. A promotional video was filmed for the song "Trilobites". Visiting Kids appeared on the soundtrack to the film Rockula, as well as on the Late Show with David Letterman.
Since Devo, Mothersbaugh has developed a successful career writing musical scores for film and television. In film, he has worked frequently with filmmaker Wes Anderson, scoring half of his feature films (Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou). He also composed for The Lego Movie.
His music has been a staple of the children's television shows Rugrats, Beakman's World, Santo Bugito and Clifford the Big Red Dog. He also wrote the new theme song for the original Felix the Cat show when it was sold to Broadway Video, some music for Pee-wee's Playhouse in 1990 and the theme song for the Super Mario World TV series for DIC Entertainment in 1991. The character design for Chuckie Finster on Rugrats was based on him.
Mothersbaugh also produces music for in video games, including Sony's Crash Bandicoot and Jak and Daxter series (both music scores were created by Josh Mancell), and creating music for EA Games' The Sims 2. This work is often performed with Mutato Muzika, the music production company he formed with several other former members of Devo including his brother, Bob Mothersbaugh.
- "Having Trouble Sneezing", the distinctive music in the award-winning "Get a Mac" commercials for Apple Inc.
- The score for the first season of the television series Big Love, though he was replaced after one season by David Byrne of Talking Heads.
- The theme music for the American television show Eureka, broadcast on the Syfy channel.
- The score of the Cartoon Network's TV series Regular Show.
In 2013, Mothersbaugh appeared on an episode of The Aquabats! Super Show!, an action-comedy series by the creators of Yo Gabba Gabba! starring the Devo-influenced band The Aquabats, playing the eccentric scientist father of one of the main characters, Jimmy the Robot.
Mothersbaugh has also been successful as a visual artist. In November 2014, Mothersbaugh said, "I've done over 150 art gallery shows in the last 20 years."
On February 6, 2014, the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver (MCA Denver) announced a retrospective exhibition to bring together the first comprehensive presentation of Mothersbaugh's art and music. This nationally touring exhibition was accompanied by a publication, Mark Mothersbaugh: Myopia, published by Princeton Architectural Press.
Mothersbaugh hosted a drawing segment on the Nick Jr. television series Yo Gabba Gabba! called Mark's Magic Pictures, teaching children how to draw simple pictures. The pictures often come alive at the end of the segment through animation.
At the age of seven, Mothersbaugh began wearing glasses to correct his severe myopia and astigmatism, before which he was legally blind. Over the years, he took an interest in designing his own distinctive eyewear for use in Devo shows. He favored a set of stainless steel frames for regular use made by a Los Angeles shop called LA Eyeworks and says he purchased as many pairs as he could find because they tended to break or get stolen by fans. In a joint venture with eyewear manufacturer Shane Baum, Mothersbaugh has designed his own branded frames for sale, made of beryllium with a stainless steel chrome finish, in three different styles as of 2015. The Baumvision press release states that the unisex model "Francesca" is named for one of Mothersbaugh's pug dogs which is a simultaneous hermaphrodite that is also called Frank.
He has been married twice. His first wife was actress Nancye Ferguson, who can be seen briefly performing with him in the 1999 superhero comedy film Mystery Men. His current wife is Anita Greenspan, who runs the film music managing company Greenspan Kohan Management with Neil Kohan. The couple has two daughters from China, adopted after Greenspan learned of the practice in that country of female children being abandoned because of their gender.
Mothersbaugh contracted COVID‑19 in May 2020, and was placed on a ventilator in an intensive care unit at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center for 18 days. In August 2020, Mothersbaugh recounted that he "nearly died" of the disease, and was in a delusional state while infected; he came to believe that he had been hospitalized after being hit by a brick in Little Tokyo, and repeatedly urged his family members to search for his attackers. He described having lasting neuropathic pain as a result of the illness.
Honors and awards
- Human Highway (1982)
- NBC (1990) (station ID's)
- Felix the Cat (1990) (TV, digitally remastered footage version of the original series) (theme)
- Super Mario World (1991) (TV) (theme)
- Liquid Television (1991) (TV)
- Davis Rules (1991) (TV)
- Sewer Shark (1992) (VG)
- Great Scott! (1992) (TV)
- Frosty Returns (1992) (TV)
- Mann & Machine (1992) (TV)
- Beakman's World (1992) (TV) (theme)
- Bakersfield P.D. (1993) (TV)
- South Beach (1993) (TV)
- Street Match (1993) (TV)
- Down on the Waterfront (1993)
- Hotel Malibu (1994) TV Series
- Edith Ann: A Few Pieces of the Puzzle (1994) (TV)
- Santo Bugito (1995) (TV) (as Mark "Mothersbug")
- Too Something (1995) (TV)
- If Not for You (1995) (TV)
- Strange Luck (1995) (TV)
- Sliders (1995) (TV)
- The Courtyard (1995) (TV)
- "The Last Supper" (1995) Film (musical score)
- Flesh Suitcase (1995)
- The Big Squeeze (1996)
- Class Reunion (1996) (TV)
- Quicksilver Highway (1997) (TV)
- Fired Up (1997) (TV)
- Men (1997)
- Unwed Father (1997) (TV)
- Working (1997) (TV) (theme)
- Last Rites (1998) (TV)
- The Mr. Potato Head Show (1998) (TV)
- Stories from My Childhood (1998) (TV)
- Interstate '82 (1999) (VG)
- Rocket Power (1999) (TV) (theme music)
- The Wacky Adventures of Ronald McDonald: The Visitors from Outer Space (1999) (V)
- Tucker (2000) (TV)
- The Other Me (2000) (TV)
- All Growed Up (2001) (TV)
- Rugrats: Still Babies After All These Years (2001) (TV)
- Second String (2002) (TV)
- Cheats (2002)
- MDs (2002) (TV)
- Hidden Hills (2002) (TV)
- The Groovenians! (2002) (TV)
- A Guy Thing (2003)
- Popeye's Voyage: The Quest for Pappy (2004) (V)
- The Sims 2 (and Expansion Packs) (2004–2008) (VG)
- The Complete Truth About De-Evolution (2004) (V)
- Music for Edward Gorey (?)
- Get a Mac (2006–2009)
- Feed Me (2006)
- Eureka (2006) (TV) (Theme)
- Boom Blox (2008) (VG)
- Cars Toons (2008–2014)
- Boom Blox Bash Party (2009) (VG)
- Skate 3 (2010) (VG)
- Catfish (2010)
- Hawaiian Vacation (2011)
- Shameless (2011) (TV)
- Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
- Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation (2018)
- Connected (2020)
- Thor: Love and Thunder (2021)
|1991–2006||Rugrats||with Denis M. Hannigan, Rusty Andrews and Bob Mothersbaugh|
|1992–1995||Adventures in Wonderland||with Denis M. Hannigan, Rusty Andrews and Josh Mancell|
|1995–1996||Dumb and Dumber|
|2000–2003||Clifford the Big Red Dog||with Josh Mancell|
|2003–2008||All Grown Up!||with Bob Mothersbaugh|
|2010–2011||Blue Mountain State|
|2010–2017||Regular Show||with John Enroth and Albert Fox|
|2012–2016||House of Lies|
|2013–2014||The Carrie Diaries|
|2015–2018||The Last Man on Earth|
|2016–2017||People of Earth|
|2016||Ice Age: The Great Egg-Scapade||Ice Age TV special|
|2017||Abstract: The Art of Design|
|2018-present||Summer Camp Island||with John Enroth and Albert Fox; also theme music with Seo Kim|
|2019-2020||What We Do in the Shadows|
|2020||Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness||with John Enroth, Albert Fox, and Robert Mothersbaugh|
|2020-present||Close Enough||with John Enroth and Albert Fox|
|1987||Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise||Joe Roth||20th Century Fox||N/A|
|1988||Slaughterhouse Rock||Dimitri Logothetis||Arista Films||N/A|
|2020||The Willoughbys||Kris Pearn
|The Croods: A New Age||Joel Crawford||Universal Pictures
|Connected||Mike Rianda||Columbia Pictures
Sony Pictures Animation
Lord Miller Productions
|1997||Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back|
|1998||Crash Bandicoot: Warped|
|1999||Crash Team Racing|
|1999||Interstate '82 (with Josh Mancell)|
|2001||Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy|
|2004||The Sims 2|
|2007||The Simpsons Game|
- My Struggle (as Booji Boy)
- What I Know Volume I
- Beautiful Mutants
- Muzik for Insomniaks (Cassette, 1985)
- Later released on CD as Muzik for Insomniaks, Vol. 1 and Muzik for Insomniaks, Vol. 2 in 1988 by Rykodisc
- Muzik for the Gallery (LP, 1987)
- Joyeux Mutato (CD, 1999, Rhino Handmade limited edition; reissued 2000 by Rhino to regular retail)
- The Most Powerful Healing Muzik in the Entire World (6-CD Set, 2005)
- Mutant Flora (6 × Vinyl, 7" Box Set, 2017)
- Long, Pat (May 2, 2009). "Pat Long meets new wave 80s oddballs Devo, who are intent on making a comeback". The Guardian. London. Retrieved May 9, 2012.
- "Devo". AllMusic. Retrieved September 30, 2012.
- Steinberg and Michael Kehler (2010), p.355
- "BMI Hands Out Over 100 Awards at Annual Film/TV Gala". bmi.com. Retrieved October 28, 2010.
- "America's Best Colleges 2010". Forbes.com. Retrieved September 9, 2015.
- "Mary M. "Mig" Mothersbaugh". Legacy.com. August 31, 2014. Retrieved September 8, 2015.
- Gruskoff, Jen (March 3, 2010). "A Vision of Family". GetButtonedUp.com. Retrieved September 7, 2015.
- Paul Vermeersch: A brief history of Devo, Part 1, October 21, 2014, retrieved August 4, 2015
- Shadduck, B. H. "Jocko-Homo Heavenbound". B. H. Shadduck. Retrieved January 23, 2017.
- Songfacts, retrieved August 4, 2015
- "Alan Myers Obituary". Rolling Stone. Retrieved July 19, 2013.
- Are you not Devo? You are Mutato, retrieved August 4, 2015
- Abram, Malcolm X (August 18, 2005). "Still DEVOlutionary". Akron Beacon Journal. Archived from the original on October 26, 2005.
- ChadGrisly. "SOMETHIN.jpg".
- "MoogFest 2010 Announces Devo as Recipient of Moog Innovation Award". Moogfest.com. September 8, 2010. Archived from the original on November 12, 2011. Retrieved August 19, 2011.
- Pareles, Jon (November 1, 2010). "Honoring the Moment When Music Met Moog". The New York Times. Retrieved August 19, 2011.
- The Spawn of Devo: Visiting Kids, April 26, 2012, retrieved August 13, 2015
- "Mark Mothersbaugh". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved July 17, 2007.
- "The Lego Movie (2014)". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved August 17, 2014.
- 8 Cartoon Characters Inspired by REAL People, archived from the original on September 24, 2015, retrieved August 4, 2015
- Are you not Devo? You are Mutato, retrieved August 4, 2015
- Roberts, Randall (December 7, 2007). "Are You Not Devo? You Are Mutato". LA Weekly. Retrieved October 31, 2008.
- Sagers, Aaron (June 14, 2013). "Mark Mothersbaugh joins 'The Aquabats! Super Show!'". MTV Geek. He also guest-appeared on the Futurama episode, The Mutants Are Revolting.
- Devo-related 45s, retrieved August 4, 2015
- Hesse, Josiah (November 8, 2014). "Devo's Mark Mothersbaugh Still Loves Fucking with People". LA Weekly. Retrieved November 8, 2014.
- Mark Mothersbaugh Myopia, archived from the original on July 7, 2015, retrieved August 4, 2015
- Matheson, Whitney (November 14, 2014), Stream Baby Stream: Where Can My Kid Learn to Draw?, retrieved August 4, 2015
- Peskowitz, Josh (June 11, 2010). "Eye Glasses of the Day: Mark Mothersbaugh's". Esquire. Retrieved June 20, 2010.
- Raymer, Miles (October 2, 2014). "Devo's Mark Mothersbaugh on his new eyewear line, revisiting old work". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved September 7, 2015.
- "Mothersbaugh Eyewear" (PDF). Retrieved September 7, 2015.
- NERDIST Podcast Episode 130: Penn & Teller; Penn discusses his involvement along with Mark & Tom Ardolino of NRBQ with collecting song poems (starting at 08:17 in the podcast).[permanent dead link]
- Mutato Muzika: Diamonds in the Basement (video). Gearwire. April 3, 2008. Retrieved September 30, 2015.
- Greene, Andy. "Devo's Mark Mothersbaugh Says He Nearly Died From Covid-19". Rolling Stone. Retrieved September 1, 2020.
- Roberts, Randall. "Mark Mothersbaugh nearly died from COVID-19. FaceTiming with his family kept him alive". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 1, 2020.
- "America's Best Colleges 2010". Forbes.com. Retrieved September 9, 2015.
- Garrett, Amanda (May 28, 2016). "Mark Mothersbaugh gets key to city, unlocks creative door for his hometown, Akron, to see his world". Akron Beacon Journal.
- "Klasky-Csupo, Famed Animators Team for NBC". Animation Magazine. Fall 1990. Retrieved August 4, 2015.
- Lloyd, Robert (March 18, 2016). "TV Picks: 'Pee-wee's Big Holiday,' 'Ice Age' Easter, eagle-cam". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 28, 2016.
- "Mark Mothersbaugh Scoring Netflix's 'Disenchantment'". Film Music Reporter. Film Music Reporter. July 23, 2018. Retrieved July 25, 2018.
- "Mark Mothersbaugh Scoring IMAX Documentary 'Pandas'". Film Music Reporter. Film Music Reporter. January 12, 2018. Retrieved January 14, 2018.
- "'Vacation' Reboot to Feature Music by Mark Mothersbaugh". Film Music Reporter. April 29, 2015. Retrieved April 30, 2015.
- "Mark Mothersbaugh Scoring 'Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip'". Film Music Reporter. Film Music Reporter. November 6, 2015.
- "Mark Mothersbaugh Scoring Netflix's 'Pee-wee's Big Holiday'". Film Music Reporter. Film Music Reporter. October 12, 2015.
- "Me gusta, pero me asusta". Instituto Mexicano de Cinematografía (IMCINE). Instituto Mexicano de Cinematografía (IMCINE). Archived from the original on December 17, 2017. Retrieved December 16, 2017.
- "Mark Mothersbaugh to Score 'The LEGO Ninjago Movie'". Film Music Reporter. February 13, 2017. Retrieved March 10, 2017.
- Gonzalez, Umberto (August 22, 2016). "'Thor: Ragnarok': Devo's Mark Mothersbaugh to Compose Score (Exclusive)". TheWrap. Archived from the original on August 23, 2016. Retrieved August 22, 2016.
- "Mark Mothersbaugh Scoring DreamWorks Animation's 'The Croods: A New Age'". Film Music Reporter. Film Music Reporter. September 18, 2020. Retrieved September 19, 2020.
- Phil Lord [@philiplord] (March 3, 2020). "AND a gorgeous score by the great Mark Mothersbaugh and his team at @MutMuz" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Mark Mothersbaugh.|
- Official website
- Official art and exhibitions website
- Mark Mothersbaugh at AllMusic
- Mark Mothersbaugh discography at Discogs
- Mark Mothersbaugh on IMDb
- Trolf, Andreas (January 3, 2008). "Mark Mothersbaugh Interview". Fecal Face.
- Interview, April 25, 2001 at liveDaily.com at the Wayback Machine (archived September 30, 2007)
- Extensive interview from 1998 at the Wayback Machine (archived December 20, 2002)
- Ayyüce, Orhan (December 25, 2007). "Home Front Invasion Wartime Interview with Mark Mothersbaugh". Archinect. Archived from the original on June 12, 2011.