Don Was

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Don Was
Don Was - AMA Nashville 2010 - Ron Baker.JPG
Don Was - Americana Music Association showcase - Nashville, TN (2010)
Background information
Birth name Donald Fagenson
Born (1952-09-13) September 13, 1952 (age 62)
Origin Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Genres Rock, new wave
Occupation(s) Musician, record producer
Instruments Bass guitar, vocals, piano
Years active 1979–present
Associated acts Was (Not Was)
Orquestra Was

Don Was (born Donald Fagenson; September 13, 1952) is an American musician, bassist and record producer.

Life and career[edit]

Born in Detroit, Michigan,[1] Was graduated from Oak Park High School in the Detroit suburb of Oak Park, then attended the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor but dropped out after the first year. A journeyman musician, he grew up listening to the Detroit blues sound and the jazz music of John Coltrane and Miles Davis.

Using the stage name "Don Was", he formed the group Was (Not Was) with school friend David Weiss (David Was). The group found commercial success in the 1980s - releasing four albums and logging several hit records. A jazz/R&B album of Hank Williams covers, "Forever's A Long, Long Time" was released in 1997, under the name Orquestra Was.[2] In 2008, Was (Not Was) reunited for an acclaimed new album and tour.

Don Was has earned his recognition as a record producer and has recorded with an array of artists from The Rolling Stones, Bonnie Raitt, Bob Dylan, John Mayer, Ziggy Marley, Bob Seger, Al Green, Lucinda Williams, Garth Brooks, Ringo Starr, Iggy Pop, Lyle Lovett, Kris Kristofferson, Joe Cocker, Hootie and The Blowfish, Amos Lee and Willie Nelson to Elton John, Stevie Nicks, George Clinton, Randy Newman, The Black Crowes, Carly Simon, Travis Tritt, Brian Wilson, Jackson Browne, The Barenaked Ladies, Old Crow Medicine Show, Roy Orbison, Waylon Jennings, Jessi Colter, Richie Sambora, The Presidents of the United States of America, B.B. King, Paul Westerberg, Kurt Elling, Poison, Cheb Khaled, The B-52's, Zucchero, Todd Snider, Elizabeth Cook, Jill Sobule, Solomon Burke and Neil Diamond.

Was has received three Grammy Awards including the 1994 Grammy Award for Producer of the Year.[3][4] He produced several albums for Bonnie Raitt including her Nick of Time album that won the 1989 Grammy Award for Album of the Year.[3] Don also collaborated with co-producer Ziggy Marley, on Family Time, winner of 2009's Best Musical Album For Children.[3]

He served as music director and/or consultant for several motion pictures such as Thelma and Louise, The Rainmaker, Hope Floats, Phenomenon, Tin Cup, Honeymoon in Vegas, 8 Seconds, Switch, The Freshman, Days of Thunder, Michael, Prêt-à-Porter, Boys on the Side, Toy Story and The Paper.

In 1997, he directed and produced a documentary, I Just Wasn't Made for These Times, about former-Beach Boy Brian Wilson. The film debuted at the Sundance Film Festival and won the San Francisco Film Festival's Golden Gate Award. He also received the British Academy Award (BAFTA) for Best Original Score in recognition of his compositions for the film Backbeat.

Was, who is a fan of the Rolling Stones and saw them in concert when he was age 12 in 1964, produced their albums Voodoo Lounge, Stripped, Bridges to Babylon, Forty Licks, Live Licks and A Bigger Bang. He also worked on the Rolling Stones's reissues Exile on Main Street, released in May 2010 and Some Girls released in October 2011. Was scoured old master recordings of the albums for lost gems, remastering some songs while producing entirely new vocals and tracks on others.[5]

From 2009 to 2012, Don hosted a weekly radio show on Sirius XM satellite radio's Outlaw Country channel called The Motor City Hayride.[6] During the 2011 season of American Idol, Was appeared in several episodes producing contestants Haley Reinhart, Scotty McCreery, Paul McDonald, Lauren Alaina and Casey Abrams.

In January 2012, he was appointed president of the jazz record label, Blue Note Records in succession to Bruce Lundvall.[7]

In May 2013, he was instrumental in forging the Blue Note/ArtistShare partnership along with ArtistShare founder Brian Camelio and Blue Note Chairman Emeritus Bruce Lundvall. The partnership will "essentially serve as a low-risk development arm of the label," since the recordings will be funded by the fans.[8]

Personal life[edit]

Don Was is the father of Eve 6 drummer Tony Fagenson and also Henry and Solomon Fagenson. He is married to former Virgin Records A&R executive and video director Gemma Corfield. He is the brother of public official Dr. Nancy Fagenson Potok, former Principal Associate Director and Chief Financial Officer of the US Census Bureau and currently Deputy Undersecretary for Economic Affairs at the US Department of Commerce.

Selected discography[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Don Was - Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 2014-03-29. 
  2. ^ "Don Was Biography". Musician Guide. Retrieved 2014-03-29. 
  3. ^ a b c "Grammy Award Past Winners Search - Don Was". Grammy.com. Retrieved 2014-03-29. 
  4. ^ Harrington, Richard (1995-08-26). "Brian Wilson's Sensational Safari". The Washington Post. p. D.01. Retrieved 2010-01-25. 
  5. ^ Don Was Revisits 'Exile On Main Street' National Public Radio United States May 16, 2010
  6. ^ "Don Was Joins Sirius XM for Show". AllAccess.com. Retrieved 2014-03-29. 
  7. ^ Chinen, Nate (May 2, 2012). "Exuberance Is Just One of His Skills". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-05-04. 
  8. ^ Chinen, Nate (May 8, 2013). "Blue Note to Partner With ArtistShare". The New York Times. Retrieved October 26, 2013.