Curt Smith

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Curt Smith
Smith in 2008
Smith in 2008
Background information
Born (1961-06-24) 24 June 1961 (age 61)
OriginBath, Somerset, England
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • musician
  • record producer
  • actor
  • Vocals
  • bass guitar
  • keyboards
  • guitar
Years active1978–present

Curt Smith (born 24 June 1961) is an English-American singer, songwriter, musician, record producer, and co-founding member of the pop rock band Tears for Fears along with childhood friend Roland Orzabal. Smith plays bass guitar, has co-written several of the band's songs, and sings lead vocals on the hits "Mad World", "Pale Shelter", "Change", "The Way You Are", "Everybody Wants to Rule the World", and "Advice for the Young at Heart".

After his departure from Tears for Fears in 1991, Smith pursued a solo career and released his debut album, Soul on Board, in 1993. In total, he has released five studio albums and one EP, and has also dabbled in acting. He rejoined Tears for Fears in 2000.

Early life[edit]

Smith grew up in Bath, Somerset in England, and lived on the Snow Hill council estate.[1] He attended the Beechen Cliff School.[2]

Musical groups[edit]


Smith met Roland Orzabal when both were teenagers.[3] They first formed a band in their teens, and Smith taught himself to play bass guitar.[citation needed] They next formed the ska-influenced band Graduate.[4] Graduate released their only album in 1980, achieving minor success in Europe. Around this time, Smith and Orzabal also became session musicians for the band Neon. Fellow band members included Pete Byrne and Rob Fisher, who went on to become the duo Naked Eyes.[citation needed]

Tears for Fears[edit]

After Graduate and Neon disbanded,[5] Smith and Orzabal founded Tears for Fears in 1981.[6] Smith is the band's bass player[7] and co-lead vocalist.[8][9] Their debut album, 1983's The Hurting, reached no. 1 in the UK[10] and produced three international hit singles—"Mad World", "Change" and "Pale Shelter"—each with lead vocals performed by Smith.[11][12]

The duo's 1985 album Songs from the Big Chair hit number one in the United States[13][14] and went multi-platinum.[15] The album yielded hits including "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" (with Smith again on lead vocals),[16] "Shout," and "Head Over Heels" (which Smith co-wrote).[17]

The next Tears for Fears album, The Seeds of Love (1989), proved to be another international success. Smith's only lead vocal track on the album was "Advice for the Young at Heart".[18] Increasing tensions between Smith and Orzabal prompted Smith to leave the band in 1991,[19][20] and he moved to New York.[20]

In 2000, routine legal paperwork obligations led to Orzabal and Smith's first conversation in nearly a decade.[21] The two patched up their differences and, along with Smith's associate Charlton Pettus, began writing a new album—Everybody Loves a Happy Ending—released in 2004.[20]

"Mad World" was re-recorded by Michael Andrews and Gary Jules for the soundtrack of the 2001 film Donnie Darko. A 2003 single release of the song reached number one in the UK for three consecutive weeks[22] and won Orzabal his second Ivor Novello Award.[23] The single re-ignited interest in the group's earlier work. Their 1992 Greatest Hits album was re-released and re-entered the UK Top 10 for several weeks, garnering its second UK platinum disc.[citation needed]

In 2021, Smith and Roland Orzabal were honoured with the Ivor Novello Award for Outstanding Song Collection.[24]

The seventh Tears for Fears album, The Tipping Point, was released in February 2022.[25]

Solo albums[edit]

Soul on Board[edit]

After leaving Tears for Fears, Smith released his first solo album, Soul on Board, in 1993. The album was unsuccessful in the UK, and was not released at all in the United States. Smith later claimed that he made the album purely to fulfil his record contract with Mercury/Phonogram.[citation needed]

Mayfield and Aeroplane[edit]

After moving to New York, Smith formed the band Mayfield with guitarist-producer Charlton Pettus. The band featured Russ Irwin and Doug Petty on keyboards, Smith himself on bass and vocals, and Shawn Pelton on drums. According to Smith, the name of the band was a play on words (Curt is Mayfield) based on the name of the legendary American soul singer Curtis Mayfield. The band was mostly a live act, but did release a self-titled album in 1998; it met with little success.[citation needed]

Smith later released the album Aeroplane under his own name. In the U.S., this was a six-track EP, but in Canada and elsewhere, it was essentially the earlier Mayfield album combined with additional songs from the U.S. EP.[citation needed]

In October 2011, Smith announced on his website that he would re-release the Mayfield album on 15 November 2011.[26][better source needed] The new release, on his KOOK Media label, would include a bonus version of the song "Trees" featuring Janice Whaley.

Halfway, Pleased[edit]

Smith in 2008

During 2000, Smith began work on what was to become Halfway, Pleased, but the project was put on hold when he began with Roland Orzabal again after almost a decade of silence. In 2006, Smith resumed work on Halfway, Pleased. The semi-autobiographical album explores Smith's relationships with his children, parents and friends.[citation needed] Smith finally released the album in the U.S. and the rest of the world in May 2008 via his own KOOK Media label.[27]

Smith made limited live concert appearances in the Los Angeles area to support Halfway, Pleased. In January 2009, he announced that he would perform a weekly residency at The Standard Hollywood in West Hollywood, CA during the month of February 2009.[28]

Deceptively Heavy[edit]

Smith's fourth solo album, Deceptively Heavy, was released on 16 July 2013.[29]

"The Social Media Project"[edit]

In January 2010, Smith released the standalone single "All Is Love" (featuring Zoë Keating), the first track in what he said would be an album-length project of collaborations with artists he had met via social media.[30] Smith met Keating, an avant-garde cellist, via Twitter. The second track in the series, "Perfectly...Still (featuring Universal Hall Pass)" was released in August 2010.[31]


Smith occasionally collaborates with other artists. He worked with the French singer So (Sophie Saillet) providing vocals on her track "Les Autres", and the pair worked together again on Smith's track "Seven of Sundays" (Saillet also appeared in both videos for the song).[citation needed] Smith is also featured on The Shadow Bureau's 2011 track "Don't Give Yourself Away" with artist Linda Strawberry,[32] inspired by the 2010 Australian film Griff the Invisible. In May 2011, Smith tweeted that he was working on a track with JunkieXL[33][better source needed] which features on JXL's album Synthesized. He also recorded a vocal track for the American punk band American Eyes on their song entitled "The Day We Died" from the album Never Trust Anything That Bleeds.[citation needed]


Smith and longtime collaborator Charlton Pettus composed and recorded the score for the 2011 film Meth Head (starring Lukas Haas)[34] and the 2015 film Gravy.[35]

Smith contributed an original song, "This Is Christmas", to an episode of the fifth season of the USA Network series Psych.[36][better source needed]

"Stripped Down Live With Curt Smith"[edit]

In August 2010, Smith debuted a live music web series, "Stripped Down Live With Curt Smith",[37] which he produced along with his manager Arlene Wszalek and Streamin' Garage CEO Mike Rotman. Each episode was devoted to a single featured artist. The band or musician played acoustic versions of their songs (the show was streamed live via UStream); Smith interviewed them between sets, as well as took viewer questions via Skype and the show's chat room. Smith's guests included Hypnogaja, Carina Round, Chris Pierce, Peter Himmelman, Common Rotation, Gary Jules, All Day Sucker, The Daylights, Matthew Sweet, The Fallen Stars, Nightmare & The Cat, Whiskey Saints, Fitz and the Tantrums and Friendly Indians.[citation needed]

Other activities[edit]

In 1988, Smith appeared at the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute performing "Everybody Wants to Rule the World", with accompanying musicians Phil Collins, Midge Ure and Mark Brzezicki on stage.[38]

Smith is an avid user and advocate of social media.[30] Since 2008, he has been asked to speak at a variety of social media, technology and creative conferences, including 140TC,[39] the Creative Commons Los Angeles Salon,[40] the 2010 ITV Fest,[41] TEDxHollywood[42] and TEDxSF.[43] He has also guest-lectured at the USC Annenberg School's graduate Online Communities program.[44][better source needed]

Smith has also tried his hand at acting. He had a minor role as a desk clerk in The Dead Connection (1994), and a more significant role as a professor in 2000's The Private Public.[45] Smith made a surprise appearance to open Psych's 2010 Comic Con panel,[46] where he sang onstage with Psych co-stars James Roday and Dulé Hill. Roday's character Shawn Spencer makes several proclamations throughout the series about his admiration for Tears for Fears, especially Smith. He then appeared, as himself, in the Psych episode "Shawn 2.0",[47] an episode for which he also wrote a variation of the opening theme. His single "This is Christmas" later appeared in the episode "The Polarizing Express".[48] He again appeared as himself in the show's 100th episode, "100 Clues", in March 2013.[49] He also appeared in the episode "A Nightmare on State Street" as himself.[50]

In September 2016, Smith and his drummer Jamie Wollam appeared in the "Orchard" with Ted Yoder to accompany him on a re-recording of his popular rendition of Everybody Wants to Rule the World played on the hammered dulcimer.[51]

Personal life[edit]

Smith has been married twice. His first wife was Lynda "Lynne" Altman, whom he married in 1982. They divorced in 1988, and he then began a relationship with marketing executive Frances Pennington. They married in 1996 and now live in Los Angeles with their two daughters, Diva and Wilder, born in 1999 and 2001.[52][failed verification] Smith became a naturalised U.S. citizen in 2007.[citation needed] He is a supporter of Manchester United and LAFC.[53]

In April 2020, while staying home under general quarantine orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Smith and his daughter Diva performed an acoustic guitar rendition of "Mad World" in the style of the 2001 Donnie Darko soundtrack.[54][55]


  • Aeroplane (2000)
  • Mayfield (1998)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Tears for Fears's first album in 17 years expounds 'the traumas of just being alive'". Document Journal. 28 February 2022.
  2. ^ Cameron-bath, Amanda (21 January 2018). "The most famous former pupils of Bath secondary schools". bathchronicle.
  3. ^ "'If there is a God, this is what he put us on Earth to do': the unlikely return of Tears for Fears". the Guardian. 8 October 2021.
  4. ^ Stephen Thomas Erlewine. "Tears for Fears – Music Biography, Credits and Discography". AllMusic.
  5. ^ "Tears For Fears Are Back, and Closer Than Ever". GQ. 18 February 2022.
  6. ^ "Tears for Fears headed to Blossom Music Center for 'The Tipping Point' tour". cleveland. 16 May 2022.
  7. ^ Reardon, Tom. "Tears For Fears Is Ready to Take on Our Mad World of 2022". Phoenix New Times.
  8. ^ "Tears for Fears deftly mixes old and new in Costa Mesa". 30 July 2007.
  9. ^ Halpern, Paul (18 January 2020). "Advice for the Musical at Heart: An Interview with Musician Curt Smith about Psychology and…".
  10. ^ "Tears for Fears: The Hurting (30th Anniversary Edition), PopMatters". 23 October 2013.
  11. ^ Iles, James (21 August 2020). "Tears For Fears' greatest tracks show why they ruled the world".
  12. ^ "Ken Bruce".
  13. ^
  14. ^ Gallucci, Michael GallucciMichael. "How Tears for Fears Hit With 'Songs From the Big Chair'". Ultimate Classic Rock.
  15. ^ Zaleski, Annie (30 May 2022). "Why Tears for Fears deserves Rock & Roll Hall of Fame consideration". Salon.
  16. ^ "Tears for Fears' 10 greatest songs ever, ranked". Smooth.
  17. ^ "Head Over Heels by Tears for Fears - Track Info | AllMusic" – via
  18. ^ "Tears for Fears - Advice for the Young at Heart".
  19. ^ Page-Kirby, Kristen (22 June 2017). "Tears for Fears' Curt Smith is done ruling the world – he just wants to see the sights". Washington Post.
  20. ^ a b c Behr, Felix (14 August 2020). "This Is Why Tears For Fears Broke Up In The 90s".
  21. ^ Tears for Fears – iTunes interview. 2004.
  22. ^ "Gary Jules". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 3 May 2022.
  23. ^ "The Darkness scoop Ivor Novello award". East Anglian Daily Times. 28 May 2004. Retrieved 3 May 2022.
  24. ^ "The Ivors with Apple Music 2021 winners announced". The Ivors Academy. 21 September 2021. Retrieved 3 May 2022.
  25. ^ Skinner, Tom (7 October 2021). "Tears for Fears announce first album in 17 years, 'The Tipping Point'". NME. Retrieved 8 October 2021.
  26. ^ "Mayfield".
  27. ^ Katie Hasty (14 March 2008). "Tears for Fears' Smith Goes 'Halfway' Solo". Billboard.
  28. ^ "Curt Smith/Tears for Fears - Interview part 1 (Creative Commons)". YouTube. 10 March 2009. Archived from the original on 21 December 2021.
  29. ^ "iTunes Preview - Deceptively Heavy - Curt Smith". iTunes. 16 July 2013.
  30. ^ a b Barb Dybwad (23 February 2010). "Tears for Fears' Curt Smith Talks Twitter and Solo Career [INTERVIEW]". Mashable.
  31. ^ "New Music: Curt Smith of Tears For Fears". 5 August 2010.
  32. ^ "Voice of Gaia: Strawberry".
  33. ^ "Taking time off from movie to do JunkieXL track. It's sounding pretty weird and wonderful :)". Twitter. 18 May 2011.
  34. ^ Jeff Benjamin (26 October 2011). "Watch Tears For Fears's Curt Smith's Video Q&A On Scoring 'Meth Head,' Making Music Today @ Billboard Film & TV Music Conf". Billboard.
  35. ^ "Gravy (2015)".
  36. ^ "This Is Christmas, by Curt Smith".
  37. ^ Liz Shannon (20 July 2010). "Tears for Fears' Curt Smith To Host Stripped Down Live – Tech News and Analysis". Archived from the original on 24 July 2010. Retrieved 6 August 2010.
  38. ^ "Tears for Fears (Live 88) – Everybody wants to rule the world" on YouTube
  39. ^ "Twitter users have first conference | Metro News". 23 September 2009.
  40. ^ "CC Salon LA (6/26/08): Curt Smith and Monk Turner Discuss CC/Music". Creative Commons. 19 June 2008.
  41. ^ "Curt Smith - Biography". CD Baby.
  42. ^ "TEDxHollywood 2010". 5 June 2010.
  43. ^ "TEDxSF - Curt Smith".
  44. ^ "Thanks to @curtsmith for coming out to USC tonight! The whole class learned so much!". Twitter. 19 January 2011.
  45. ^ "Curt Smith The Private Public (2000)". YouTube. 12 February 2008. Archived from the original on 21 December 2021.
  46. ^ "Comic-Con 2010: Psych ("Shout" - with Curt Smith!)". YouTube. 22 July 2010. Archived from the original on 21 December 2021.
  47. ^ "Curt Smith Talks 'Psych' Episode 5.08 'Shawn 2.0'". MovieWeb. 2 September 2010.
  48. ^ Joseph Dilworth Jr. (15 December 2010). "Psych TV Series - Curt Smith – This is Christmas". Archived from the original on 17 August 2013. Retrieved 2 February 2016.
  49. ^ Heather Donmoyer (27 March 2013). "'Psych' Season 7, Episode 5 Review – Tears and Fears and 100 Clues".
  50. ^ Russ Burlingame (20 March 2014). "A Nightmare on State Street".
  51. ^ "Curt Smith of Tears for Fears and Ted Yoder". YouTube. 28 September 2016. Archived from the original on 21 December 2021.
  52. ^ "Curt Smith – Tears for Fears, 80's pop, British, band, music, new wave, singer, songwriter, Curt Smith". Lipstick Tracez. Archived from the original on 7 January 2014.
  53. ^ "Curt Smith". Twitter.
  54. ^ "Watch Tears For Fears' Curt Smith Perform "Mad World" With His Daughter".
  55. ^ Schatz, Lake (6 April 2020). "Watch Tears for Fears' Curt Smith and Daughter Perform "Mad World"". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 25 May 2020.

External links[edit]