Mike Curb

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Michael Curb
42nd Lieutenant Governor of California
In office
January 8, 1979 – January 3, 1983
Governor Jerry Brown
Preceded by Mervyn M. Dymally
Succeeded by Leo T. McCarthy
Personal details
Born (1944-12-24) December 24, 1944 (age 69)
Savannah, Georgia, U.S.
Political party Republican

Michael "Mike" Curb (born December 24, 1944, Savannah, Georgia) is an American musician, record company executive, and NASCAR car owner. A Republican, he served as the 42nd Lieutenant Governor of California from 1979 to 1983 under Democratic Governor Edmund G. "Jerry" Brown, Jr. He was acting governor of California while Brown spent time outside of California pursuing presidential ambitions. He is also the founder of Curb Records as well as an inductee of the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame.[1] He is of Mexican heritage.[2]

Early music career[edit]

As a freshman at San Fernando Valley State College (now California State University at Northridge), while working in the practice rooms of the Department of Music, Curb wrote the song "You Meet the Nicest People on a Honda (Go Little Honda)" which the company selected for its ad campaign. Dropping out of college in 1963 at the age of 19, Curb formed first record company, Sidewalk Records (a predecessor of Curb Records) and helped launch the careers of West Coast rock and roll artists such as the Stone Poneys (featuring Linda Ronstadt), The Arrows (featuring Davie Allan) and the Electric Flag (featuring Mike Bloomfield and Buddy Miles).

Curb scored the music for the short film, Skaterdater (1965); he later scored Peter Fonda's Wild Angels (1966) and The Born Losers (1967) – the first of the Billy Jack films – among others. In 1969, he merged his company with MGM and became President of MGM Records and Verve Records. Curb composed or supervised over 50 motion picture soundtracks and wrote over 400 songs.

Curb (center) with members of the Mike Curb Congregation and Davy Jones on a television special in 1972.

Curb organized his own musical group, The Mike Curb Congregation in the 1960s; they had a Top 40 pop hit in early 1971 with the title cut from their album Burning Bridges (written and composed by Lalo Schifrin and Mike Curb) which was used as the theme of Clint Eastwood's film Kelly's Heroes. They also sang the theme from The Magic Garden of Stanley Sweetheart and had a hit recording of "It's a Small World." The group was featured on Sammy Davis, Jr.'s number-one Billboard Hot 100 hit of 1972, "The Candy Man" (the Aubrey Woods version was featured in the film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory) and in 1978, the Mike Curb Congregation was featured in the musical The Magic of Lassie, starring James Stewart. They recorded "Together, a New Beginning" in 1980, the theme song for Ronald Reagan's successful presidential bid that year. The Mike Curb Congregation were weekly regulars on Glen Campbell's CBS' National Network Television Show.

In 1969, Curb signed Christian rock pioneer Larry Norman to Capitol Records.[3]

In the 1970s, Curb wrote for and produced Roy Orbison, the Osmond Family, Lou Rawls, Sammy Davis, Jr. and Solomon Burke; he also signed artists such as the Sylvers, Eric Burdon, War, Richie Havens, the Five Man Electrical Band, Gloria Gaynor, Johnny Bristol, Exile and The Four Seasons. Curb even went so far as to sign Danny Bonaduce, the co-star of the TV series The Partridge Family, to a separate recording contract, even though Bonaduce was not heard on any of the music produced for the TV series or its record releases. Curb ran a short-lived country music subsidiary label for Motown called Hitsville Records.[4] Curb composed "It Was a Good Time" for Liza Minnelli's Emmy Award Winning "Liza with a Z". He also received BMI awards for composing "Burning Bridges" for Clint Eastwood's Kelly's Heroes, and for composing "All for the Love of Sunshine", which was Hank Williams, Jr.'s first #1 Record.

MGM anti-drug controversy[edit]

In 1970, Billboard reported that "MGM Records president Mike Curb has dropped 18 acts who, in his opinion, promote and exploit hard drugs through music."[5] Among the acts reportedly cut were the Velvet Underground, Orpheus and Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, though by 1969, Zappa had fulfilled his MGM/Verve contract and moved to his own Bizarre Records label, distributed by Warner Bros.[6][7] Billboard reported that Curb was alarmed by the drug-related deaths of Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and Al Wilson of Canned Heat.[5]

Curb claimed he had industry support, but the only record company official he cited, Bill Gallagher, the president of Paramount Records, contradicted him.[8] Columbia Records president Clive Davis said Curb was "grandstanding," and that his anti-drug stance had made him "a minor hero of the Nixon administration."[9] In 1997, Curb said the affair had happened at a time when "you were considered a freak if you spoke out against drugs."[7]

Political career[edit]

Encouraged to enter politics in part by Ronald Reagan, Curb was elected lieutenant governor of California in 1978, defeating the incumbent Democrat, Mervyn M. Dymally. Democratic candidate Jerry Brown was re-elected governor in the same year. During much of Brown's 1979–1980 bid to become the Democratic presidential candidate, Curb served as acting governor, vetoing legislation, issuing executive orders and making appointments; actions the California's Supreme Court upheld as Curb's constitutional prerogative.[10] Curb worked with Harvey Milk on the campaign against the Briggs Initiative and persuaded Reagan to oppose it, leading to its defeat. Curb has been a leading conservative supporter of gay rights ever since.[2]

Curb lost the 1982 Republican gubernatorial nomination to California attorney general George Deukmejian. In 1986, Curb ran again for lieutenant governor as the Republican nominee against the incumbent Democrat Leo T. McCarthy in a bitterly contested race that largely centered around punishment for drug trafficking and violent crimes. A vocal opponent of drug use, Curb advocated extension of the death penalty to include drug pushers whose narcotics trafficking resulted in a death.[11]

In his speeches and campaign ads, McCarthy sought to denigrate Curb's image with Republican voters as an anti-drug proponent by alleging that Curb made a fortune in making films that glorified drugs, sex, and violence. Curb was so incensed at McCarthy's allegations that he filed a $7-million libel and slander suit, claiming McCarthy "went too far because he lied about a business. There will be many, many years of severe damage to my company and my reputation." In particular, Curb stated that McCarthy's charge that Curb had made a "fortune" on exploitation movies was "false on its face" and had damaged Curb's "campaign for public office, his business and...his standing in the community."[12] McCarthy won the election.

Later career in music[edit]

Returning to the music industry, Curb established Curb Records. He moved to Nashville, Tennessee, in 1994, where his company records artists such as Wynonna Judd, LeAnn Rimes, Hank Williams, Jr., Hank III, Kimberley Locke, Sawyer Brown, Rodney Atkins, Steve Holy, Heidi Newfield and others. Curb is an equity partner in the gospel music company Word Label Group, in cooperation with Warner Music Group.[citation needed]

Involvement in car racing[edit]

A motorsport enthusiast, Curb is a co-owner of the CURB/Agajanian/3G Racing, a team that has since suspended operations in NASCAR's Nationwide Series. His sponsorship and ownership have included three of NASCAR's most celebrated drivers: he previously owned Richard Petty's famed #43 in 1984 and 1985, including the 199th and 200th career wins for Petty. Curb was also a sponsor for Dale Earnhardt during his 1980 Winston Cup championship winning season, and sponsored Darrell Waltrip's #12 Toyota Tundra in the Craftsman Truck Series, driven by Joey Miller in 2006. Curb-Agajanian also ran cars for many years in the Indianapolis 500 with drivers including Billy Boat and Jaques Lazier.

In November 2007, Curb purchased the remaining interest in Brewco Motorsports from Clarence Brewer of Central City, Kentucky, making him co-owner with Gary Baker. Forming Baker-Curb Motorsports competing in the NASCAR Nationwide Series from 2008 until 2010 in the #27 and #37 cars until lack of sponsorship forced the team to suspend operations half way through the 2010 season as well as for the whole 2011 racing season. Curb was also the co-owner with Richard Childress of the #98 Chevrolet driven by Austin Dillon.

Curb is also a long-time sponsor of ThorSport Racing in the Camping World Truck Series, being part-owner of the team's #98 Toyota driven by Johnny Sauter.

Public honors[edit]

In Nashville, Curb has become a civic leader and benefactor of Belmont University, where his donation toward the construction of a new arena resulted in it being named the Curb Event Center. The University also runs "The Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business." He also endowed the Curb Center and the Curb Creative Campus program at Vanderbilt University and the Mike Curb Institute of Music at Rhodes College in Memphis. In 2001, Curb was inducted into the Junior Achievement U.S. Business Hall of Fame. In 2003, Curb was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall Of Fame. Curb was next inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame in 2009.[13]

In August 2006,[14] Curb pledged $10 million to California State University, Northridge (in Los Angeles) to endow his alma mater's arts college and provide a lead gift for the university's planned regional performing arts center that will serve as a "learning laboratory" for students. Of the $10 million gift, $5 million will support CSUN's College of Arts, Media, and Communication, one of the university's largest colleges that offers degree and certificate programs for more than 4,400 students. Four million of that will go into a general endowment for the college, and $1 million will endow a faculty chair specializing in music industry studies. As a result, the college was named in his honor.

On June 29, 2007, Curb was honored with the 2,341st star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.[15]

On October 21, 2010, CSU Channel Islands dedicated the Mike Curb Studio in Napa Hall on the Camarillo, California university campus. The studio provides a new film and video production and post-production facility to the campus.



Year Album US
1970 Come Together 105
Sweet Gingerbread Man 185
1971 Burning Bridges and Other Motion Picture Themes 117
Put Your Hand in the Hand 205
1972 Softly Whispering I Love You 206
1973 It's a Small World Unreleased (test pressings exist, MGM SE-4900[16])

Collaboration albums[edit]

Year Album US Country
1971 All for the Love of Sunshine (with Hank Williams, Jr.) 10


Year Single Peak chart positions
1970 "Sweet Gingerbread Man" 16 115 95
1971 "Burning Bridges" 16 34 40 12
1972 "See You In September" 15 108
1973 "It's a Small Small World" 9 108

Guest singles[edit]

Year Single Peak chart positions Album
US Country US
1970 "All for the Love of Sunshine" (with Hank Williams, Jr.) 1 1 All for the Love of Sunshine
"Rainin' in My Heart" (with Hank Williams, Jr.) 3 108 2
1971 "Ain't That a Shame" (with Hank Williams, Jr.) 7 16 Hank Williams, Jr.'s Greatest Hits Vol. II
1972 "The Candy Man" (with Sammy Davis, Jr.) 1 1 2 3 Sammy Davis Jr. Now
"Long Haired Lover from Liverpool" (with Little Jimmy Osmond) 38 Killer Joe
"Gone (Our Endless Love)" (with Billy Walker) 24 The Billy Walker Show
"The People Tree" (with Sammy Davis, Jr.) 92 16 Portrait of Sammy Davis, Jr.
"Living Together, Growing Together" (with Tony Bennett) 111 single only


  1. ^ "West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame". West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame. Retrieved 16 March 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Wadwhani, Anita (April 13, 2010). "Music mogul Mike Curb wields clout on social issues". The Tennesseean. Retrieved April 20, 2010. 
  3. ^ "Larry (David) Norman", Encyclopedia of Evangelicalism, ed. Randall Herbert Balmer (Westminster John Knox Press, 2002):411.
  4. ^ Spencer Leigh (October 4, 2005). "Obituaries – Ray Ruff". The Independent. Retrieved January 25, 2010. 
  5. ^ a b Elliot Tiegel (November 7, 1970). "MGM Busts 18 Rock Groups". Billboard. 
  6. ^ "FZ Discography". Retrieved July 25, 2010. 
  7. ^ a b Beverly Keel (October 2, 1997). "Can Mike Curb Be as Clean as He Looks?". Nashiville Scene. Retrieved July 24, 2010. 
  8. ^ Elliot Tiegel (November 21, 1970). "Curb Backs Curbing Stand; Will Not Name Acts Cut". Billboard (Los Angeles). 
  9. ^ Davis, Clive; James Willworth (1975). Clive: Inside The Record Business. New York: William Morrow & Company. p. 273. ISBN 0-688-02872-1. 
  10. ^ In re the Petition of the Commission on the Governorship of California (Brown v. Curb), 26 Cal. 3d 110.
  11. ^ Shuitt, Douglas, California Elections: Curb, McCarthy – Vying to Become the Toughest Cop?, Los Angeles Times, October 10, 1986
  12. ^ "Curb Files $7-Million Suit Against McCarthy", Los Angeles Times, October 28, 1986
  13. ^ "2009 Inductees". North Carolina Music Hall of Fame. Retrieved September 10, 2012. 
  14. ^ California State University, Northridge
  15. ^ "Music Mogul Mike Curb Honored with 2,341st Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame". Archived from the original on 2008-02-16. Retrieved 2008-03-22. 
  16. ^ http://www.bsnpubs.com/mgm/mgm48015000.html
  17. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2011). Top Pop Singles 1955–2010. Record Research, Inc. p. 217. ISBN 0-89820-188-8. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Mervyn M. Dymally
Lieutenant Governors of California
Succeeded by
Leo T. McCarthy