Dean Friedman in concert; April 18, 2007 in New York
|Born||May 23, 1955|
|Origin||Paramus, New Jersey, U.S.|
|Genres||Pop, jazz, folk|
|Occupations||Singer, songwriter, producer, author, virtual reality designer, video game designer|
|Instruments||Guitar, piano, electronic keyboard, harmonica|
Dean Friedman (born May 23, 1955) is an American singer-songwriter who plays piano, keyboard, guitar and other instruments, including the harmonica.
Born and raised in Paramus, New Jersey, Friedman received his first guitar when he was 9, in 1964, and started writing songs. When he was a teenager, he played weddings and bar mitzvahs as part of Marsha and the Self-Portraits, sent out demos and majored in music at City College of New York where one of his teachers was guitarist David Bromberg. By the time he was 20, in 1975, he had a manager and a recording contract with Cashman and West's Lifesong label.
In the United States he is described as a one-hit wonder, following his 1977 hit song "Ariel", which reached # 26 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and stayed in the chart for five months. "Ariel" has been described as a "quirkily irresistible and uncategorizable pop song about a free spirited, music loving, vegetarian Jewish girl", from Paramus, New Jersey, where he grew up. It is the only Billboard Top 40 song to contain the word Paramus. It describes the girl Ariel, "standing by the [since dismantled] waterfall at Paramus Park", one of the many shopping malls in Paramus. The quarters she was collecting for "friends of BAI" refers to the New York radio station WBAI-FM, and their listener association, while the song also makes reference to "channel 2," which refers to local CBS affiliate WCBS-TV.
Although "Ariel" did not make the UK Singles Chart, "Lucky Stars", a duet with Denise Marsa taken from his second album Well Well Said the Rocking Chair, made No. 3 in the UK in late 1978, and both "Woman of Mine" and "Lydia" were lesser chart hits there.
Friedman also provided vocals for a series of television commercials in the 1970s in the New York City metro area. The electronics chain Crazy Eddie's hired him to sing their doo-wop styled commercial: "When you think you're ready, come down to Crazy Eddie's".
The songs of Dean Friedman have been covered by several contemporary bands, including The Barenaked Ladies, Ben Folds Five, Ariel Pink, The Tone Rangers, and The Blenders. The lead singer of Barenaked Ladies, Steve Page, sang background vocals on Friedman's album Songs For Grownups (1998).
TV and films
Friedman has written, performed and produced the theme music to several TV series including Boon (for which he did all of the music apart from the theme song which was performed by Jim Diamond), starring Michael Elphick. Other TV credits include Nick Arcade (Nickelodeon) and Eerie, Indiana (NBC). He also composed, performed and produced the soundtrack to the cult horror film, I Bought a Vampire Motorcycle, in which he performs the track "She Runs on Blood, Not Gasoline".
Other (non-musical) work
In 1985, Friedman produced a seminal work on the newly emerging synthesizer industry called Complete Guide to Synthesizers, Sequencers, and Drum Machines. Whilst dated, this tome is still of use in evaluating devices that crop up on the second-hand market. Friedman also set up the New York School of Synthesis and provided a series of videos entitled Intro to Synthesis. Friedman presents the rudiments of this topic in an audio-visual format, whilst incorporating a unique sense of humor.
Friedman was impressed by the technology and wrote an article for Electronic Musician magazine. In 1989 he designed a game called Eat-A-Bug which was licensed to Nickelodeon TV, used on the series Total Panic and served as a prototype for the series Nick Arcade, for which Friedman produced a dozen games. He is now the President and Creative Director of InVideo games.
The record label which produced "Ariel" insisted Friedman change the song's second verse, which refers to the eponymous Ariel as "a Jewish girl", believing that radio stations might use it as an excuse not to play the record. The third verse was also removed to make the single shorter for radio. The management company received threats from the Jewish Defense League protesting against the edit and, at Friedman's insistence, the original version was put on the album.
Friedman's second single "McDonald's Girl" was officially banned by the BBC because the chorus mentioned the name of the fast food restaurant. In 2011, thirty years after the song was banned by the BBC, the McDonald's Corporation licensed "McDonald's Girl" for a national TV/Radio campaign, which aired in the US, featuring a vocal performance of the song by The Blenders.
During 2005, as part of a tie-in to one of his tour sponsors, Friedman's tour of the United Kingdom was almost canceled after it was revealed he intended to distribute cannabis seeds to purchasers of his new album. Although it is not illegal to own or distribute cannabis seeds in this manner "unless they get wet", the suggestion caused friction with a number of venues on the tour, so the intended distribution was not carried out.
Friedman's album, The Treehouse Journals was financed entirely by his fans via his website. Friedman invited people to finance the cost of the as-yet unrecorded album by making an advance purchase and by making limited edition signed copies available. This tactic has been adopted by other bands, including Marillion. He continued to tour, playing small venues.
He copied this tactic again in 2005, with the album Squirrels in the Attic.
Dean Friedman and Half Man Half Biscuit
The British band Half Man Half Biscuit recorded, in 1986, a song entitled "The Bastard Son of Dean Friedman", a claim Friedman considered improbable, as he was only seven years old when lyricist Nigel Blackwell was conceived. At the Edinburgh Festival in 2003, The Scotsman newspaper arranged a get together between Friedman and the band, in which he acknowledged that Blackwell had at least surmised right the underlying story in the song "Lucky Stars": "That guy Nigel was hip to the fact Lisa and I didn't just do lunch. You can't interpret a song that way unless you understand what it's about." It also transpired that Blackwell had a copy of a rare vinyl version of Well Well Said the Rocking Chair.
In 2009, Friedman wrote a 'reply' called "Tale of a Baker's Son", in which he firmly placed Blackwell's parentage as being that of the local baker, posting it on Half Man Half Biscuit's MySpace site. The band mentioned it on their own website as "Dean Friedman's Revenge/Dean Friedman strikes back". On September 15, 2010, Dean Friedman appeared at a Half Man Half Biscuit gig at the Robin 2 venue in Bilston, West Midlands (UK) and performed "Tale of a Baker's Son" to rapturous applause from the partisan crowd. Half Man Half Biscuit's riposte was, naturally, The Bastard Son of Dean Friedman.
- Dean Friedman (1977)
- Well Well Said the Rocking Chair (1978) – UK #21
- Rumpled Romeo (1981)
- Live! At The Duke of York (1985)
- Bloomsbury Live! (1995)
- Dean Friedman in Concert – Shepherds Bush Empire (1998)
- Songs for Grownups (1998)
- The Treehouse Journals (2002)
- Squirrels in the Attic (2005)
- Submarine Races (2010)
- Music From "Boon" – TV soundtrack
- I Bought a Vampire Motorcycle – soundtrack
- Dean's "Kids Songs"
- A Million Matzoh Balls
- "Ariel" (1977) – U.S. No. 26
- "Woman of Mine" (1977) – UK No. 52
- "Lucky Stars" (1978) – UK No. 3
- "Lydia" (1978) – UK No. 31
- "Dean Friedman Live on the Isle of Wight" (2009)
- Dean Friedman: Information and Much More from Answers.com
- "Dean Friedman". MSN Music. Retrieved 2007-02-14.
- "Biography by Bruce Eder". Allmusic.com. Retrieved July 14, 2009.
- Allmusic.com – Charts & Awards – Billboard Singles
- "The View From/Peekskill; Rock-and-Roll Dreams Die Hard on Internet". New York Times. June 20, 1999. "Remember Ariel? The young girl from deep in the bosom of suburbia, who sang mighty fine 'Tears on My Pillow' and 'Ave Maria' ? If this fictitious character rings a bell, chances are the name Dean Friedman does too. In 1977 Mr. Friedman wrote the rock song Ariel about a pretty hippie from Paramus, New Jersey, and scored big with it; several other hits followed. But the music industry has a way of sending promising careers on surprising trajectories, and Mr. Friedman all but disappeared from the rock scene, at least in America."
- "Dean Friedman, Newsletter – August, 1995".
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 215. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- "Why Dean is no one hit wonder". Manchester Evening News. July 12, 2007. Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-21. "In 1977, when he was 22, US singer-songwriter Dean Friedman was dismissed as a one hit wonder after his first smash single, Ariel. But today, with several hit singles and a best-selling album behind him, he is once more making music and back on the concert circuit, returning to Manchester on Thursday at the Royal Northern College of Music."
- "Dean Friedman". New York Times. July 9, 2004. "Makor, 35 West 67th Street, Manhattan, (212) 601–1000. Dean Friedman had his one big hit with the pop-rock love song Ariel in 1977, but he has continued to write and sing wry, amiable songs ever since. Tomorrow night at 9:30; tickets are $15 in advance, $18 at the door (Pareles)."
- "Dean Friedman Bio". Retrieved 2007-02-14.
- Dean Friedman website
- YouTube video of the performance