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29 June 1943 |
Brooklyn, New York, United States
|Genres||Rock and roll, Americana, reggae, blues, soul|
|Occupation(s)||Musician, songwriter, record producer|
|Labels||Atlantic Records, A&M Records, Epic, RCA/BMG, Universal, Luna Park Records|
Jeffreys is from Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, of African American and Puerto Rican American heritage. He majored in art history at Syracuse University where he met Lou Reed, before The Velvet Underground became active. In 1966, Jeffreys began to play in Manhattan nightclubs including Gerde's Folk City, The Bitter End, Gaslight, Kenny's Castaways and later Reno Sweeney, where he began to explore racially conscious themes in his work, sometimes utilizing blackface masks and a rag doll named Ramon in performance. Jeffreys played guitar on John Cale's 1969 debut solo album Vintage Violence and contributed the song "Fairweather Friend". In 1969 he founded Grinder's Switch with Woodstock-area musicians including pianist Stan Szelest, guitarist Ernie Corallo, and percussionist Sandy Konikoff. Lewis Merenstein, producer of Van Morrison's Astral Weeks, produced this one album before the band dissolved in 1970.
In 1973, he released his first solo album, Garland Jeffreys, on Atlantic Records. Around the same time Atlantic also released a single, "Wild in the Streets," that was not included on the album. Jeffreys wrote the song after hearing about a pre-teen rape and murder in the Bronx. Dr. John played clavinet and helped arrange the song, with backing from guitarist David Spinozza, drummer Rick Marotta, the Brecker Brothers on horns and David Peel on background vocals. After the single's rerelease in 1977, the track received airplay on the progressive FM album-oriented rock stations, and became one of his best-known songs and something of an unofficial anthem for the skate community after the cover by The Circle Jerks was featured in the 1986 film Thrashin'. It has been covered by several musicians, including:
- The Circle Jerks, on their album Wild in the Streets
- Chris Spedding, on the album Hurt
- British Lions, on their album British Lions
- Hot Water Music, on the album Til the Wheels Fall Off
- Hurriganes, on Fortissimo
- Electric Frankenstein, on We Will Bury You
In 1977 Garland recorded his Ghost Writer album for A&M Records, with "Wild in the Streets" included on side two. Many of the tracks are autobiographical, encompassing bittersweet tales about coming of age as an artist in the big city ("Ghost Writer"), of racial separatism ("Why-O"), of interracial romance ("I May Not Be Your Kind"), and of overcoming conflict at home ("Cool Down Boy").
The next years saw a string of albums, five within five years, and the release of "Matador" (1979) from American Boy & Girl which charted in the top five of a number of countries. This burst of productivity culminated with Guts for Love, a meditation on the challenges of monogamy and fidelity. After a break, much of it spent woodshedding, reading and researching, Jeffreys released Don't Call Me Buckwheat, devoted to the complexities of race in America. The title was triggered by an incident at Shea Stadium where Jeffreys, enjoying the game and feeling carefree, stood to go get a hotdog when a voice shouted "Hey buckwheat, sit down!" The casual epithet was a jolt and it spurred a number of memorable songs including "Don't Call Me Buckwheat," "I Was Afraid of Malcolm" and "Racial Repertoire." In February 1992, Jeffreys' recording of "Hail Hail Rock 'n' Roll" (RCA PB49171), spent one week at #72 in the UK Singles Chart.
After taking a lengthy hiatus to regroup and raise his only child, daughter Savannah, now "an impressive composer and singer herself" Jeffreys began to perform again in the summer of 2001, and on December 6 he joined Bruce Springsteen at his legendary Christmas show in Asbury Park and began to also perform annually at the Springsteen supported The Light of Day Foundation shows to fund research for Parkinson's and other neurological conditions. With his band loosely referred to as "The Coney Island Playboys" on September 4, 2003 Jeffreys joined Jon Langford, Lenny Kaye and Ivan Julian in a benefit concert for Alejandro Escovedo, recovering from hepatitis C. Jeffreys was featured in the 2003 documentary The Soul of a Man, directed by Wim Wenders as the fourth installment of the documentary film series The Blues produced by Martin Scorsese. The film explored the musical careers of blues musicians Skip James, Blind Willie Johnson and J. B. Lenoir. Jeffreys was also featured on the cover of Beyond Race Magazine in February 2007.
After a long career on major labels, in 2011 Jeffreys formed his own Luna Park Records label and went back into the studio, resulting in the critically acclaimed comeback album The King of In Between. Co-produced by Larry Campbell and with players Steve Jordan, Brian Mitchell, Pino Palladino, Duncan Sheik and Junior Marvin it yielded the song "Coney Island Winter" performed on The David Letterman Show. "Roller Coaster Town" was voted a best of the year in the WFUV staff poll and audience poll. The album made numerous annual Best Of lists with NPR naming it a "best of the year so far" and Rolling Stone calling it one of the Best Under The Radar Albums of 2011. The album won the 2012 Schallplatenkritik Best En Liste prize in the Pop Rock category and in 2013 Jeffreys was also awarded the Italian Tenco Prize. In 2016 he was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame.
The Circle Jerks cover of "Wild in the Streets" was used in a commercial for Vans sneakers and can be heard in the 2012 video game Max Payne 3. Other TV and film placements for "Wild in the Streets" include Life on Mars, The Get Down on Netflix (also included on the official soundtrack), and a L'Oreal commercial directed by Louis de Caunes. On May 28, 2012, at the Pinkpop Festival in Landgraaf, Holland, Jeffreys joined Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band onstage for a performance of ? and the Mysterians' 1966 hit "96 Tears" which Jeffreys had covered on his 1981 album Escape Artist.
In September 2013, Jeffreys released the single "Any Rain" from his album Truth Serum on the LunaPark/Thirty Tigers label. The album was crowd funded on PledgeMusic, co-produced by James Maddock and recorded at Brooklyn Recording and featured again Larry Campbell, Steve Jordan and Brian Mitchell.
- 1970: Grinder's Switch featuring Garland Jeffreys
- 1973: Garland Jeffreys
- 1977: Ghost Writer
- 1978: One-Eyed Jack
- 1979: American Boy & Girl
- 1981: Escape Artist
- 1981: Rock 'n' Roll Adult
- 1983: Guts For Love
- 1992: Don't Call Me Buckwheat
- 1992: Matador & More...
- 1997: Wildlife Dictionary (only released in Europe)
- 2007: I'm Alive (only released in Europe)
- 2011: The King of In Between
- 2013: Truth Serum
- 2017: 14 Steps To Harlem
|1973||"Wild In The Streets"||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||single only|
|1975||"The Disco Kid"||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||single only|
|1977||"35 Millimeter Dreams"||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||Ghost Writer|
|1979||"Matador"||—||4||1||—||2||2||6||—||American Boy & Girl|
|"Bring Back The Love"||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|1980||"Bound To Get Ahead Someday" (GER only)||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||Garland Jeffreys|
|1981||"Modern Lovers"||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||Escape Artist|
|"Wild In The Streets (Live)"||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||Rock & Roll Adult|
|1982||"Surrender"||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||Guts For Love|
|1991||"Hail Hail Rock 'N' Roll"||—||8||14||33||12||—||8||72||Don't Call Me Buckwheat|
|"Welcome To The World"||—||72||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released.|
Contribution to others
- 1970 John Cale Vintage Violence (Columbia) Jeffreys wrote "Fairweather Friend".
- 1976 Lou Reed Rock and Roll Heart (Arista) Jeffreys sang background vocals on "You Wear It So Well"
- 1998 Diamond Cuts: Turning Two (Vol. II) (Hungry For Music) 
- 2003 Johnny's Blues: A Tribute To Johnny Cash (Northern Blues)
- 2003 Light of Day Tribute To Bruce Springsteen (Schoolhouse Records)
- 2003 Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues: The Soul Of A Man (Sony)
- 2005 Elliott Murphy: Live Hot Point (Last Call Records)
- 2011 Occupy This Album: 99 Songs for the 99 Percent (Music for Occupy)
- Marc, David. "Alumni Profiles : Syracuse University Magazine". sumagazine.syr.edu. Archived from the original on October 1, 2016. Retrieved 2017-02-03.
- "Fairweather Friend - John Cale | Song Info | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 2017-02-03.
- Garland Jeffreys, AllMusic, June 15, 2011.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 281. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- "Garland Jeffreys". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2017-02-03.
- Christgau, Robert (September 4, 2003). "Alejandro Escovedo Benefit". The Village Voice. Archived from the original on September 4, 2003.
- "Episode Guides David Letterman". October 7, 2011.
- "THE BLACK KEYS, M83, PJ HARVEY AND MORE ON TAS STAFF'S BEST OF 2011". wfuv.org.
- Krulik, Lawrence (January 5, 2012). "2011 WFUV Best Songs". playlists.net.
- Powers, Ann (June 14, 2011). "All Songs Considered: Discussion: The Year's Best Music (So Far)". npr.org.
- Fricke, David (December 23, 2011). "Rolling Stone". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on December 23, 2011.
- Alm. "Bestenliste 3-2012". www.schallplattenkritik.de (in German). Retrieved 2017-02-03.
- "Garland Jeffreys Inductee Details".
- "Garland Jeffreys - US Hot 100". billboard.com. Retrieved 2014-05-16.
- "Garland Jeffreys - German Chart". charts.de. Retrieved 2014-05-16.
- "Official Charts Company: Garland Jeffreys". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2014-05-16.
- Jeffreys contributed his own "Color Line".
- Jeffreys contributed his cover version of "I Walk the Line".
- Jeffreys contributed his cover version of "Streets of Philadelphia".
- Jeffreys contributed his cover version of "Washington DC Hospital Center Blues".
- Jeffreys contributed his own "Ballad Of Me", "35 Millimeter Dreams" and "Wild In The Streets".
- Jeffreys contributed his own "Coney Island Winter".