David Frank (musician)

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David Frank
Birth nameDavid Martin Frank
Born (1952-11-13) November 13, 1952 (age 66)
Occupation(s)Synthesist, pianist, music producer, programmer, songwriter
Years activeEarly 1980s–present
Associated actsMic Murphy, The System

David Martin Frank (born November 13, 1952) is an American music producer, composer, classically trained pianist, and founding member of the 1980s R&B group the System. Yamaha Music calls him "the founding father of electronic R&B."[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Frank grew up in the Bostonian suburb of Weston, Massachusetts and played classical piano at a recital level from a young age. By fifth grade he had won his first composing competition. In high school, Frank played in rock bands hired for dances and competed, often successfully, in talent shows and battle of the band contests. He attributes his fluency with soul and R&B music to an early encounter he had with a singer he met at one such contest. The singer was later incorporated as a member of his band. His studies continued throughout his youth as a student at the New England Conservatory and later at the Berklee College of Music. While at New England Conservatory, an instructor brought in a copy of Wendy Carlos' groundbreaking album Switched-On Bach. Frank had already been experimenting with getting electric guitar sounds out of his Farfisa organ, and was inspired by this encounter to continue pursuing electronic musical directions.


Upon graduating from Berklee, David began playing in bands around the Bostonian metropolitan area. The bass player in one of such bands exposed him to an ARP Odyssey synthesizer for David to play. The new sounds intrigued him so much that, borrowing the money from his Dad, he bought one for himself the next day. When Frank moved to Manhattan to try to become a session musician, he began playing at weddings while amassing more keyboards including those manufactured by Oberheim: the OB-Xa polyphonic synthesizer, the DSX sequencer and the DMX drum machine which in effect made him a one-man band.

The System[edit]

In 1981, while he was working in New York City, Frank was called in to do a session for a local studio owner who suggested that he use the time to create a dance song. Frank initially wanted to use his upstairs neighbor and bandmate, a pre-stardom Madonna. Instead he called up another singer, Mic Murphy, whom he knew while working as a tour keyboardist with Kleeer. A marathon recording session resulted in "In Times of Passion." The next day, the System was signed to Mirage Records which was a subsidiary of Atlantic Records. "In Times of Passion" became both a radio and club hit in New York. The interest sparked enough interest for Mirage to give David and Mic an advance for an album. The album, Sweat, launched club hits "Sweat," "I Won't Let Go" and the iconic "You Are In My System" which became a top ten R&B smash. Robert Palmer's cover of the song became a mainstream rock hit. As keyboard synthesist and arranger David helped out on hit recordings that defined the sound of that era with Chaka Khan's "I Feel For You", Phil Collins' "Sussudio,"[2] and Mtume's "Juicy Fruit." (which went on to be Notorious BIG's #1 hit "Juicy"). He worked with Arif Mardin on three songs on Scritti Politti's album Cupid & Psyche 85 and with Russ Titelman on Steve Winwood's album Back in the High Life arranging the live horns on the album as well as the synth horns on the #1 hit "Higher Love". And lastly he was recognized for the System's #1 hit "Don't Disturb This Groove" in which Frank firmly established his prowess as a bass-groove synthesizer innovator and master. Frank and Murphy produced tracks on albums for artists including Ashford and Simpson, Phillip Bailey of Earth Wind and Fire, Jeff Lorber, Angela Bofill and Nona Hendrix.

Move to Los Angeles[edit]

In the early 1990s, Frank moved to Los Angeles where he opened his own recording studio called Canyon Reverb. One of the first artists he worked with in LA was RCA recording artist Omar on his albums For Pleasure and This is Not a Love Song. In 2012 Omar was awarded an MBE award for service to music by Queen Elizabeth of England. David became actively involved in the creative scene in Los Angeles. Through his publisher, Frank met songwriter Steve Kipner, and through friends he met New Zealand songwriter Pam Sheyne. Together they went on to generate several hit songs (Dream's "He Loves U Not", "This Is Me", 98 Degrees' "The Hardest Thing", O-Town's "These Are The Days" as well as Christina Aguilera's "Genie in a Bottle".) "Genie" won him an Ivor Novello Award for international hit of the year.

Currently, Frank is signed as a songwriter to Universal Music Publishing Group and works with songwriters in Los Angeles, New York, and London.


Frank is a credited contributor as either a producer, songwriter, or musician on the following songs or albums:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1] Archived 2009-04-29 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Phil Collins. Not Dead Yet. London, England: Century Books. p. 219. ISBN 978-1-780-89513-0.

External links[edit]