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Richard Noel Marx (born September 16, 1963 in Chicago, Illinois) is an American adult contemporary and pop/rock singer, songwriter, musician and record producer. He had a stream of hit singles in the late 1980s and 1990s, including "Endless Summer Nights", "Right Here Waiting", "Now and Forever", and "Hazard". Although most of his major hit songs were ballads, many of his songs had a classic rock style, such as "Don't Mean Nothing", "Should've Known Better", "Satisfied", and "Too Late To Say Goodbye". Marx placed himself in the record books by being the first solo artist to have his first seven singles hit the Top 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart (3, 3, 2, 1, 1, 1, 4). His record sales worldwide exceed 30 million. Aside from songs that he's written and recorded for himself, he has written, co-written, and produced successful tracks for other artists such as "This I Promise You" by NSYNC and "Dance With My Father" by Luther Vandross. The latter song won several Grammy Awards. His 14th and latest chart topper, "Long Hot Summer," performed by Keith Urban, gave Marx the distinction of having a song he wrote or co-wrote top the charts in four different decades.
Marx is the only child of Ruth, a former singer, and Dick Marx, a jazz musician and founder of a successful jingle company in the early 1960s. He has three half-siblings from his father's previous marriage.
Marx began his career in music at the age of 5, singing commercial jingles written by his father, Dick Marx's list of advertising hits includes Arm & Hammer, Ken-L Ration and Nestlé Crunch.
Marx was 17 and living in Highland Park, Illinois when a tape of his songs ended up in the hands of Lionel Richie. Richie said he thought Marx had the talent to make it big, saying "I can't promise you anything, but you should come to L.A." After graduating from North Shore Country Day School, Marx moved to Los Angeles and visited Richie. "He was recording his first solo album (Lionel Richie) and having trouble with the background vocal," Marx recalls. "He tells me, ‘Come try this part.’ It worked and I ended up singing on his album." Marx contributed backing vocals to Richie’s hit "You Are", as well as "Running with the Night" and "All Night Long (All Night)", both on Richie's follow-up album Can't Slow Down.
In those early years, Marx would find any excuse possible to work within the recording industry. His enthusiasm and presence in the studio landed him several jobs as a background singer for artists such as Madonna, Whitney Houston and Luther Vandross, and, eventually, as a songwriter. Marx also had a minor acting role in the television movie Coach Of The Year, which starred Robert Conrad. He was singing for Kenny Rogers in 1984 when he overheard Rogers say he needed a new song. Within days, Marx gave him the demo of "Crazy." Rogers recorded it, along with another of Marx’s songs, "What About Me?", which also featured James Ingram and Kim Carnes. The trio recording hit #1 Adult Contemporary and #15 on the Billboard Hot 100 (while just scraping onto the Country and R&B charts) in late 1984 while "Crazy" hit #1 Country and #5 AC the following year. Soon after, Marx began working with producer David Foster and writing songs for the group Chicago and R&B singer Freddie Jackson.
While working as a songwriter and doing background vocals, Marx continued to pursue his own record deal. His demo tape was rejected by every label in Hollywood until, finally, four years after moving to Los Angeles, the president of EMI/Manhattan Records, Bruce Lundvall, heard Marx's demo and knew he had a star on his hands. He gave Marx a recording contract with the opportunity to write and record whatever he wanted. Marx contacted his good friend Fee Waybill, frontman of The Tubes, and some very talented musicians, including Joe Walsh, and Randy Meisner of the Eagles, and created a ten-track album that led to a very successful career.
Marx's self-titled debut album, released in June 1987, yielded four hit singles and sold nearly four million copies in the US. The debut single, "Don't Mean Nothing", had been released the previous month and climbed to #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 as well as #1 on Billboard's Album Rock charts. Marx became the first new artist played on 117 radio stations nationwide during his initial week on the charts. The next two singles, "Should’ve Known Better" and "Endless Summer Nights" reached #3 and #2, respectively. The fourth single release, "Hold On to the Nights", earned Marx his first #1 Pop single.
With the success of his self-titled album, Marx became the first male artist to reach the Top 3 with four singles from a debut album. He embarked on his first world tour, initially opening for REO Speedwagon, but quickly began headlining his own shows. Marx's first tour kept him on the road for 14 months while the album remained on the charts for more than a year and a half.
In 1988, Marx was nominated for a Grammy Award for 'Best Rock Vocal Performance - Male' for "Don’t Mean Nothing".
Repeat Offender, Marx’s second release (May 1989), hit pole position and pushed Prince out of the #1 spot on Billboard's Album chart. It went triple platinum within a few months and eventually sold over 5 million US copies. Repeat Offender was the result of the energy generated from over a year and a half on the road and was written or co-written entirely by Marx. "Some people might think that it would be easier this time around, that I could just kick back." Marx said at the time, "but the truth is, it’s harder, I’ve got more to prove."
The first two singles, "Satisfied" and the platinum-selling "Right Here Waiting," both reached #1, completing a string of three consecutive No. 1 singles. When the third single from Repeat Offender, "Angelia" climbed to #4, Marx became the first solo artist to reach the Top 5 with his first seven singles. Since then, "Right Here Waiting" has been covered numerous times, most notably by Monica and 112 in a 1998 duet.
Another single from the album, "Children of the Night", was written in support of the suburban Los Angeles (Van Nuys)-based organization for runaways. It became the sixth single from Repeat Offender, and all royalties were donated to the charity.
Marx's second world tour began in the spring of 1989 and took him to Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, Europe, Canada, and the United States, lasting through August 1990. Highlights of that tour included a performance in the prestigious Royal Albert Hall in London and an invitation from Tina Turner to tour Germany.
Marx also had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to perform the Beatles’ "Help" at the Berlin Wall in late 1989. Marx also received his second Grammy nomination in 1990 for "Best Pop Vocal Performance - Male" for "Right Here Waiting".
Marx went on to release a number of other albums. In 1991 he released his third consecutive multi-platinum album Rush Street. This album saw artists such as Luther Vandross and Billy Joel appear as backing vocalists and guest pianists. The disc's first single, "Keep Coming Back", went to #12 pop as well as #1 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary charts for 4 weeks running. "Hazard", which depicted a man being wrongfully accused of murder in a fictional version of Hazard, Nebraska, went #1 in charts around the world. Two more Top 10 singles were culled from Rush Street with "Take This Heart" (AC #4, Hot 100 #20) and "Chains Around My Heart" (AC #9, Hot 100 #44). In August 2001 Marx admitted that the track "Superstar," from the Rush Street album was about pop star Madonna.
In early 1994, as Marx and his family permanently left Los Angeles behind and returned to Chicago, Marx released Paid Vacation, and scored his fourth consecutive platinum album. The acoustic ballad "Now and Forever" peaked at #7 on the Hot 100 and spent 11 weeks in the Top 10 (also #12 in the UK) and also held the #1 position on Billboard's Adult Contemporary charts for 11 weeks - at the time just one week short of the all-time record. The follow-up single, "The Way She Loves Me," climbed to #3 on the US AC chart and #20 on the Pop charts.
1997 saw the release of Flesh and Bone - Marx's final studio album on the Capitol imprint. This album sold 250,000 copies in the United States. "Until I Find You Again" hit #1 in several countries and #3 in the US.
Marx's Greatest Hits compilation was released in November 1997. The 16-track album includes a variety of hit singles from his first five albums plus "Angel’s Lullaby," a song written about his children originally appearing on For Our Children, Too, a compilation CD released in 1996 to benefit the Pediatric AIDS Foundation. Greatest Hits was released in Asia in November 1998 and included two new songs, "Slipping Away" and "Thanks To You," a touching tribute to his mother. Marx’s dedication and support of numerous charities has continued throughout his career.
In 2000, Marx debuted his sixth studio album Days in Avalon. This disc was released on the Signal 21 Records label founded by Marx and former Blood, Sweat & Tears drummer and record producer Bobby Colomby. Its title track, "Days in Avalon", was picked up by Adult Contemporary radio and spent 12 weeks in the chart's Top 30. The album was also quite successful in other parts of the world, particularly Asia and Australia. The label became the vehicle for the release of this disc, and folded shortly thereafter.
After signing a new deal with his former label, Manhattan Records, Marx released the 2004 album My Own Best Enemy. It featured the two hit singles "When You're Gone" and "Ready to Fly."
In 2008, Marx released Duo with Vertical Horizon's lead singer Matt Scannell. This album features select acoustic versions of Marx and Vertical Horizon's hits, plus one they co-wrote and recorded together, "Always on Your Mind." This disc was not released under any label. It was available through Marx's website, and at concerts featuring Marx and Scannell together.
On October 31, 2008, "Emotional Remains" and "Sundown" were released via digital download on Marx's official site. Marx composed the track "Through My Veins" in tribute to his late father, jazz musician and jingle writer Dick Marx, who died in 1997. The track appears on the Emotional Remains disc.
In March 2010, Stories To Tell was released during Marx's solo acoustic concerts. It is his first acoustic album, which featured several songs from several of his previous albums. In November 2010, "Stories to Tell" album was released in Europe supporting Richard Marx's European tour. The European release featured all the songs from the March release and new studio recordings of songs Richard has written with or for other artists, like Josh Groban and Keith Urban. On May 3, 2011, the reissue of Stories to Tell was released in the United States as a three-disc set exclusively through Walmart, which included a best of disc, an acoustic disc of tracks, and a DVD of a live concert performance at the Shepherd's Bush venue in England. The album is also available for purchase on iTunes and Amazon, but without the bonus DVD and album booklet. Everybody was released as a single in Europe and When You Loved Me was released in the US, peaking at #15 on the Adult Contemporary chart.
On November 1, 2011, Marx released The Christmas EP, a five song collection of Christmas songs. "Christmas Spirit," written by Marx and Fee Waybill, was the first single released for radio airplay.
In October 2012, Marx followed up the The Christmas EP with a full album of holiday tracks called Christmas Spirit. Four songs were released. Santa Claus Is Coming Back To Town, a duet with Sara Niemietz, and Christmas Mornings, were released as promotional singles on youtube. Little Drummer Boy and O Holy Night were released to radio, peaking at #7 and #19 respectively. Little Drummer Boy gave Marx his first Top Ten single in 14 years.
In addition to his parents, Marx names recording artists like Sam Cooke and Elvis Presley as his biggest musical influences, along with Donny Hathaway, Steven Tyler, Elton John, Kenny Loggins, Peter Gabriel, Daniel Lanois, Annie Lennox, U2, Dave Grusin, and includes John Farnham, Billy Joel, Bryan Adams, Rod Stewart, The Eagles, Luther Vandross, Earth, Wind & Fire, and Gladys Knight in his list of favorites.
On January 8, 1989, Marx married the singer/dancer/actress Cynthia Rhodes. Rhodes acted and sang in Staying Alive (1982), Flashdance (1983), and most notably in the 1987 blockbuster Dirty Dancing, as well as appearing as the female lead in Marx's first video, "Don't Mean Nothing". Rhodes also briefly sang lead for the second incarnation of the synth-pop band Animotion in the late 1980s. The couple have three sons—Brandon (born 1990), Lucas (born 1992), and Jesse (born 1994)—and reside in Lake Bluff, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago.
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Image from Discogs