Richard Barone, performing at Carnegie Hall in New York City on October 1, 2008.
|Born||Tampa, Florida, United States|
|Instruments||Guitar, Mellotron, keyboards, synthesizers, percussion, Stylophone, waterphone|
|Associated acts||The Bongos|
Richard Barone is an American rock musician born in Tampa, Florida who gained attention as frontman for The Bongos. He works as a songwriter, arranger, author, director, and producer, releases albums as a solo artist, tours, and has created major concert events at Carnegie Hall, Hollywood Bowl and New York's Central Park. He is also teaches at NYU's Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music.
Barone began his career at age seven as 'The Littlest DJ' on a local Tampa top-40 radio station, and later gained attention as the lead singer and songwriter for The Bongos, a critically acclaimed new wave band at the center of the early 1980s Hoboken, New Jersey music scene. After their first string of independent singles, released on the UK based Fetish label and compiled for the U.S. as Drums Along the Hudson (PVC), the group signed to RCA Records. Barone has been called a "gifted pop-rock tunesmith," and, stepping out as a solo artist, Barone's albums have ventured into chamber pop, orchestral, and more narrative singer-songwriter territory.
Barone actually released his first solo album, Cool Blue Halo (recorded live at the Bottom Line in New York) before The Bongos' amicable breakup in 1987. Anthony DeCurtis, writing in Rolling Stone, praised Barone's "spare, elegant arrangements" and credited him with fashioning "a kind of rock chamber music." While Trouser Press described the record as "intimate but confused," NPR's Tom Moon, in a more recent assessment, called the album "a plaintive masterpiece," and credited Barone with foreshadowing Nirvana's Unplugged performance of David Bowie's "The Man Who Sold the World," adding "Cool Blue Halo feels timeless, and maybe even exotic." On May 4, 2012, for the 25th Anniversary of the album, a special reunion concert was held at City Winery in New York. The concert was filmed and recorded as part of a deluxe, multi-disc box set including the remastered original album, concert DVD, and many special features, and was released in November 2012.
Two studio albums followed: the rock-dominated Primal Dream (MCA) in 1990, and the more acoustic-based Clouds Over Eden (WEA) in 1994, the latter dedicated to his late friend, rock journalist Nicholas Schaffner, and bearing a cover portrait by photographer Duane Michals. Trouser Press championed the "fine set of yearning love songs" on Primal Dream, while calling their production and arrangements as a "step backwards" from his debut album. But David Browne, writing in Rolling Stone, gave the album four stars and commented that "Barone is fast moving beyond the limited vocabulary of twelve strings and wimp-pop vocals."  Billy Altman, in The New York Times, called his next album, Clouds Over Eden "unquestionably the most fully realized effort of Barone's career,"  while Trouser Press described the album as "wrenching and thoroughly worthwhile" and "the great album fans always imagined [Barone] making."
In 1997, Barone released Between Heaven and Cello, an album recorded live at NYC's intimate Fez nightclub, on some songs accompanied only by cellist Jane Scarpantoni. A boxed set of his first three solo albums was released in Europe in 2000 as The Big Three. In 2004, he released a limited edition solo anthology entitled, Collection: An Embarrassment of Richard, comprising personal favorites from his back catalogue.
Barone then turned his attention to producing, helming a number of recordings for a variety of artists including a recent duet between Liza Minnelli and pianist/vocalist Johnny Rodgers, a children's album for former model Jolie Jones, daughter of Quincy Jones, recordings for B-52's frontman Fred Schneider, and others. As a producer/director, he created large-scale concert events, including all-star tributes to Peggy Lee at Carnegie Hall, the Hollywood Bowl, and Chicago's Ravinia Festival in 2003 and 2004, and concerts for New York's Central Park SummerStage.
Other projects included executive producing The Nomi Song DVD (Palm Pictures, 2005), which includes his remix of operatic New Wave countertenor Klaus Nomi's "Total Eclipse"; musical direction and orchestration for Bright Lights, Big City at the New York Theatre Workshop (with Rent director Michael Greif); as well as directing and performing in The Downtown Messiah, a modern interpretation of Handel's baroque oratorio, broadcast annually on over 200 public radio stations nationwide for six consecutive years from 1999-2004. His songs and collaborations, including those written with singer-songwriter Jill Sobule, have been heard on several popular television programs, including The West Wing, Dawson's Creek, Felicity, and South of Nowhere. In 2004, Barone joined his childhood inspiration Donovan for series of the latter's Beat Café concert events, including nine performances at New York's Joe's Pub, at which he sang and read excerpts from Allen Ginsberg's Howl. Later, in 2008, he would produce a concert for Donovan, backed by an all-star band, which was recorded and released on DVD.
In 2006, he and the original Bongos reunited in the studio with Moby producing, to create a new version of "The Bulrushes," an early Bongos single, and a music video for the special edition re-issue of the group's debut album. The 27-track collection, Drums Along the Hudson - Special Edition, was released by Cooking Vinyl Records in June 2007. Several Bongos reunion concerts were held, culminating with an outdoor concert in Hoboken, at which the band was honored with a Mayoral Proclamation and the keys to the city.
In September 2007, Barone's memoir, Frontman: Surviving the Rock Star Myth, with a nude cover photo of the author by Mick Rock) was published by Backbeat/Hal Leonard Books. That same month, his complete solo catalog was re-launched at the iTunes Store. In late 2007, he began staging a series of 'musical readings' of Frontman, both live and on radio, with excerpts of the book read by television actress Joyce DeWitt and radio personality Vin Scelsa, among others. Musical accompaniment was performed using the new Gibson Les Paul HD.6x-Pro Digital guitar (an instrument to which Barone contributed as artist consultant) in surround sound. On his birthday, October 1, 2008, he brought Frontman: A Musical Reading to the stage at Carnegie Hall in New York City, with "Special Guests and Legendary Friends," including Moby, Lou Reed, The Band's Garth Hudson, Marshall Crenshaw, Terre and Suzzy Roche, Randy Brecker, Carlos Alomar, and others as a benefit for public radio station WFUV.
In July 2009, Barone entered the recording studio to complete production work on the album he began at age 16 for performer Tiny Tim. The album, "I've Never Seen a Straight Banana - Rare Moments: Volume 1," was released in October 2009 on Collector's Choice Records.
In May 2010, he produced, on behalf of Jonas Mekas, a concert to benefit Anthology Film Archives and honor avant-garde filmmaker/author Kenneth Anger. Performing on the bill were Lou Reed, Sonic Youth, The Virgins, Mekas' ensemble, Moby, M.C. Ben Foster and a rare appearance by Anger's experimental music project, Technicolor Skull.
In July 2010, Barone joined forces with Pete Seeger, producing and performing in "Reclaim The Coast: Gulf Coast Oil Spill Benefit" at City Winery. In August 2010, he and co-producer Matthew Billy recorded Seeger performing aboard the Sloop Clearwater, symbol of the drive to clean up the Hudson River, which started in the 1960s. The song and video, "God's Counting on Me, God's Counting on You" were released on Election Day 2012.
Glow, Barone's fifth solo album, helmed by veteran producer Tony Visconti, was released in September 2010 on Bar/None Records. Also working on the project were producers Steve Rosenthal and Steve Addabbo, songwriter Paul Williams, engineer Leslie Ann Jones (at George Lucas' Skywalker Ranch in Marin County, California), photographer Mick Rock, and others. Also that month, Barone appeared in Rock's career retrospective photography book Exposed: The Faces of Rock n' Roll wearing only a white Gibson Les Paul Custom guitar, an image that was echoed in the Glow CD booklet. A tour of the U.S. and the UK followed in early 2011.
In August 2011, Barone was named to the Board of Advisors of Anthology Film Archives. In that same month, he was named music supervisor on a feature documentary chronicling the final days of Anna Nicole Smith. Besides his own music, the score will contain music by Moby, Scissor Sisters. and others. In Fall 2011, Richard made a cameo appearance in "Mr. Bricks: A Heavy Metal Murder Musical."
For the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 9/11 in September 2011, Barone and frequent collaborator Matthew Billy created a special version of the 1894 song The Sidewalks of New York, which was released to excellent reviews and radio popularity. In December 2011, Barone was appointed as a professor at the prestigious Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music at New York University where he teaches "Stage Presence: The Art of Performance." That same month, he released Collection 2: Before & Afterglow, mining his back catalogue to his pre-Bongos days and including recent work such as the Sidewalks single. He closed 2011 with an appearance at the 31st Annual tribute to John Lennon in New York City, along with Steve Forbert, Bettye Lavette, and others.
In March, 2012 it was announced that Barone had contributed a new song to the Occupy This Album project, along with Yoko Ono and Patti Smith (both invited to the project by Barone), Jackson Browne, and others. The four-disc set, to benefit the Occupy Wall Street Movement, was set for release on May 15, 2012. Richard's "Hey, Can I Sleep On Your Futon?" was a gentle protest song inspired by "Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?" (a popular song from the Great Depression). Both the track and music video were included on the album download. Richard also performed at a series of concerts with other artists on the Occupy album including Michael Moore, David Amram, and Tom Chapin.
In September 2012, he released the first single "I Belong To Me," from the Cool Blue Halo anniversary project on the DigSin label. The deluxe, 3-disc CD/DVD set of the 25th Anniversary Concert, and the special remastered edition of the original album were released in November 2012. That same month, the Anna Nicole Smith documentary was released, along with Barone's song "(She's A Real) Live Wire" from the film. The documentary,I Belong To Me: The 'Cool Blue Halo' Story, premiered at Anthology Film Archives on December 10, followed by a performance by Barone and musicians from the album. On the occasion of the album's release, Donovan wrote: "Well-deserved appreciation to Richard on this 25th anniversary release of his album 'Cool Blue Halo.' He displayed the stance early, like the minstrel/actor/playwright of Renaissance London. We met and have shared many a stage together... I have always loved Ricardo's 'Bar-oque and Roll' music. Shine On Ricardo, Shine!"
The Bongos reunited on July 31, 2013 to perform the final concert at their home club, Maxwell's, in Hoboken where the original members had also performed the venue's first show.   From the stage Richard announced that the long-lost Bongos album Phantom Train, recorded in Compass Point, Bahamas in 1986, would be released on October 1, 2013 on the JEM label. The group also promised a series of reunion shows to celebrate its release..
Barone lives in Greenwich Village, where he is currently writing songs for his next album and producing for others. Between continuing his teaching at New York University he tours and performs regularly.
- For the Bongos' discography, see The Bongos.
- Cool Blue Halo: 25th Anniversary Concert (2012), Deluxe live album, CD/DVD (DigSin/RBM/JEM)
- Collection 2: Before & Afterglow (2011), compilation (RBM Special Editions)
- Glow (2010), produced by Tony Visconti, Steve Addabbo, Steve Rosenthal, and Richard Barone (Bar/None Records)
- Glow E.P. (2008), produced by Tony Visconti, and Steve Addabbo (RBM Special Editions-digital only)
- Collection: An Embarrassment of Richard (2004), compilation (RBM Special Editions)
- The Big Three (2000), box set (Line Records, Germany)
- Between Heaven and Cello (1997), recorded live (Line Records)
- Clouds over Eden (1993), produced by Hugh Jones (MESA Bluemoon/Atlantic Records)
- Primal Cuts (1991), remixes by Ben Grosse and live tracks (Line Records)
- Primal Dream (1990), produced by Richard Gottehrer and Don Dixon (MCA Records)
- Cool Blue Halo (1987), recorded live at the Bottom Line, New York City (Passport Records); Expanded Special Edition (remastered) released in 2012 (RBM/DigSin/JEM)
- Nuts and Bolts (1983), with James Mastro; produced by Barone, Mastro, and Mitch Easter (Passport Records)
- Frontman: Surviving the Rock Star Myth, Backbeat/Hal Leonard Books, 2007, ISBN 0-87930-912-1, ISBN 978-0-87930-912-1
- Barone, Richard (2007-03-28). "Sounds of the '80s, Minus the Artifice". NPR. Retrieved 2013-03-29.
- "Rock: Richard Barone" New York Times Review, Robert Palmer, The New York Times, Dec. 16, 1987]
- Cool Blue Halo review, Rolling Stone
- Richard Barone reviews, Trouser Press
- "Home". Coolbluehalo.com. Retrieved 2013-03-29.
- Primal Dream review, Rolling Stone
- "RECORDING VIEW; Holding True To the Idealism Of the New Wave - New York Times". Nytimes.com. 1994-02-20. Retrieved 2013-03-29.
- "Press". Richardbarone.com. Retrieved 2013-03-29.
- Peggy Lee Tribute press release
- "iTunes - Music - Richard Barone". Itunes.apple.com. Retrieved 2013-03-29.
- "iCloud". Web.me.com. Retrieved 2013-03-29.
- "Richard Barone Music - "I Belong To Me"". Richardbarone.com. Retrieved 2013-03-29.
- Collector's Choice
- "Reclaim The Coast"
- "Pete Seeger - God's Counting On Me, God's Counting On You (Sloop Mix) [feat. Lorre Wyatt & friends". YouTube. 2012-11-05. Retrieved 2013-03-29.
- "iTunes - Music - God's Counting On Me, God's Counting On You (Sloop Mix) [feat. Lorre Wyatt & His Friends] - Single by Pete Seeger". Itunes.apple.com. 2012-10-16. Retrieved 2013-03-29.
- Bar/None Records
- Glow Press Release
- Anthology Film Archives Board of Advisors
- Brick By Brick Press Release
- "RICHARD BARONE - Brick by Brick (Official Music Video)". YouTube. 2010-06-18. Retrieved 2013-03-29.
- "The Sidewalks of New York 2011 - Richard Barone". YouTube. 2011-09-09. Retrieved 2013-03-29.
- "News". HITS Daily Double. 2011-09-09. Retrieved 2013-03-29.
- "Richard Barone: Tisch School of the Arts at NYU". Clivedavisinst.tisch.nyu.edu. Retrieved 2013-03-29.
- Collection 2: Before & Afterglow on iTunes
- "Artists on the Music For Occupy Label". Musicforoccupy.org. 2012-01-23. Retrieved 2013-03-29.
- "Richard Barone - "Hey, Can I Sleep on Your Futon?" (Official Video) - Occupy This Album OWS". YouTube. 2012-04-10. Retrieved 2013-03-29.
- "Richard Barone - I Belong To Me - 'cool blue halo' 25th Anniversary Concert - Official Video". YouTube. 2012-09-06. Retrieved 2013-03-29.
- Thibodeaux, Tracy (14 September 2013). "Pods o' Pop-Richard Barone (The Bongos) Part 1". Interview. Pods o' Pop. Retrieved 4 October 2013.
- Thibodeaux, Tracy (14 September 2013). "Pods o' Pop-Richard Barone (The Bongos) Part 2". Interview. Pods o' Pop. Retrieved 4 October 2013.
- RichardBarone.com - Richard Barone's official website
- YouTube.com - Richard Barone's video channel on YouTube
- Allmusic - Richard Barone overview on Allmusic
- Between The Liner Notes - Richard Barone interview, July 2012
- "Man About Town Barone Heads for Fresh Fields," by Jim Bessman -- (Billboard Magazine, September 22, 2001)