Tommy Funderburk is an American rock and roll singer. He has recorded with artists such as Jon Anderson, Laura Branigan, Coverdale-Page, Melissa Manchester, Magnum, Mötley Crüe, Steve Lukather, Richard Marx, Rick Springfield, Richie Kotzen, Starship, REO Speedwagon, Whitesnake, Yes and many others.
Funderburk was born in North Carolina and grew up in the south. His favorite music included The Beatles, all kinds of R&B, soul and Gospel. In college, he played in a band he and some friends started called Sanctuary. He studied to be a high school history teacher and recorded jingles at a local studio. The band once opened for Andrae Crouch. Crouch and his drummer were impressed by the young singer and encouraged Tommy to come to L.A.
Funderburk sold everything he had and moved to L.A. where he met someone from Earth, Wind and Fire. He was introduced to David Foster (who was producing the EW&F album I Am) and Jay Graydon, who were looking for a singer for their project Airplay. The role soon fell to Funderburk.
In the early '80s he met drummer Bob Wilson from the group Seawind, and in 1984 they formed The Front. The Front recorded a self-titled album, followed by a U.S tour and a European tour the following year. On the European tour the line-up was Funderburk on vocals, Wilson on drums, Seawind alums Bud Nuanez and Ken Wild on bass and guitar, and John Andrew Schreiner on keyboards.
In 1986 Tommy Funderburk did the lead vocals on a track called "Never Too Late To Start" for the movie soundtrack "Running Scared". Funderburk also participated on an album entitled Voices with a song called "Lift up My Voice". In 1987 Wilson and Funderburk reformed their band, brought in yet another former Seawind member, Larry Williams, on keyboards and saxophone, changed the band's name to What If, and released a self-titled album on RCA. This album also featured blazing guitar work from Michael Landau.
Apart from fronting bands and doing sessions Tommy has also written songs for other artists including Starship. In 1989 the song "It's Not Enough" (from the Starship album Love Among the Cannibals), performed by Starship and written by Tommy Funderburk and Martin Page, reached #12 on the Billboard chart.
In 1988 Funderburk met Bruce Gaitsch at a recording session with Richard Marx (Gaitsch and Marx were looking for a singer that could sing even higher than Richard Marx). Gaitsch and Funderburk decided to write some songs together. The first song they wrote, "King of Hearts", was as a tribute to Roy Orbison that was later going to be included on the King of Hearts album and also became the name of the band. Apart from Funderburk and Gaitsch the band included Night Ranger's Kelly Keagy on drums and vocals, and George Hawkins on vocals and bass. King of Hearts were signed to Polygram, but for some reason Polygram never released any of their material. The songs from these sessions were finally released ten years later by a Japanese record company on an album entitled "1989".
Some of the songs from the King of Hearts sessions were later re-mixed and together with some new songs their first album was finally released in 1994 in Sweden, Japan and Germany - although now with the actual band King of Hearts only consisting of Tommy Funderburk and Bruce Gaitsch. On the successive tour the King of Hearts lineup was Funderburk and Gaitsch together with David Miner on bass, Bill Cantos on keyboards and Billy Ward on drums - the band spent one week touring Japan and another week in Sweden.
In 1995 Tommy Funderburk and bassist David Miner, who Funderburk had known since the days of Andrae Crouch, recorded and released an acoustic collection of songs entitled The Dwelling Place. The album included a mix of classic hymns and songs originally written to be used for worship at the Malibu Vineyard Church where he was a worship leader at the time. In 1996 Tommy Funderburk and Bruce Gaitsch recorded a follow-up to the first King of Hearts album called Joy Will Come, that was released during the Autumn 1996 in Sweden, Germany and Japan. In December 1997, Thoughtscape released a King of Hearts compilation CD called No Matter What, likely to be their last recording.
In 1998 Tommy recorded an a cappella album with the vocal group West Coast All Stars (featuring Funderburk, Chicago's Jason Scheff, Bobby Kimball from Toto and Joseph Williams former Toto) entitled Naturally. The album contains a cappella versions of classic hits from the seventies, for example "Stairway to Heaven", "I Shot the Sheriff", "What's Goin' On", and "Sir Duke".
In 2004 Tommy Funderburk co-founded Sovereign Artists, a record company that has recently released the first Heart album in over a decade, Jupiter's Darling. In the first press release Funderburk said, "We wanted to go to those artists that have an established fan base, and those tend to be slightly older. We're trying to be genre-agnostic. We would like to just concentrate on good music."
In January 2005 the Italian record company Frontiers released Tommy Funderburk's debut album Anything For You, an album featuring several songs co-written by Funderburk with the likes of Michael Thompson, Bruce Gaitsch and Greg Mathieson in the style of Toto, Richard Marx and Journey.
- Macan, Edward. Rocking the Classics: English Progressive Rock and the Counterculture. Oxford, UK: Oxford UP, 1997. 234.
- Morris, Chris. "New Indie Taps Older Acts." Billboard 116.15 (10 Apr 2004): 8.