Mark Mothersbaugh

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Mark Mothersbaugh
Mothersbaugh performing live with Devo, 2007
Mark Allen Mothersbaugh

(1950-05-18) May 18, 1950 (age 72)
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • composer
  • multi-instrumentalist
  • record producer
  • visual artist
Years active1972–present
  • Nancye Ferguson (divorced)
  • Anita Greenspan
Musical career
Mark Mothersbaugh signature.svg

Mark Allen Mothersbaugh (/ˈmʌðərzbɔː/; born May 18, 1950) is an American composer, singer, and multi-instrumentalist. He came to prominence in the late 1970s as co-founder, lead singer and keyboardist of the new wave band Devo, whose "Whip It" was a top 20 single in the US in 1980, peaking at No. 14, and which has since maintained a cult following. Mothersbaugh is one of the main composers of Devo's music.

In addition to his work with Devo, Mothersbaugh has made music for television series, films and video games via his production company, Mutato Muzika. He composed the music for the 13-year run of the animated series Rugrats and its three related theatrical films. As a solo musician, Mothersbaugh has released four studio albums: Muzik for Insomniaks, Muzik for the Gallery, Joyeux Mutato and The Most Powerful Healing Muzik in the Entire World.

In 2004, he received the Richard Kirk award at the BMI Film and TV Awards for his contributions to film and television music.[4] In 2008, Mothersbaugh received an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Kent State University, his alma mater.[5]

His lifelong interest in creating multimedia art pieces has resulted in gallery exhibitions of items such as his "Beautiful Mutants" photograph series, postcard diaries, art rugs, sculptures and musical instruments created from salvaged organ pipes and bird vocalizations. He has married twice and is the father of two adopted children.

Early years[edit]

Mark Allen Mothersbaugh was born on May 18, 1950, in Akron, Ohio. His parents are Mary Margaret ("Mig") and Robert Mothersbaugh, Sr. He grew up with two younger brothers, Bob and Jim, who are both musicians, and two sisters, Amy and Susan, and graduated from Woodridge High School in Peninsula, Ohio.[6][7] His father appeared in early Devo films and fan events as the character General Boy and his brothers participated in the band, although Jim's tenure was brief, appearing only on several early demos.



Mark Mothersbaugh performing live with Devo at the Festival Internacional de Benicàssim, 2007

Mothersbaugh attended Kent State University as an art student, where he met Devo co-founders Gerald Casale and Bob Lewis. In early 1970, Lewis and Casale formed the idea of the "devolution" of the human race after Casale's friend Jeffrey Miller was killed by Ohio National Guardsmen on university grounds during what came to be known as the Kent State shootings.[8] Intrigued by the concept, Mothersbaugh joined them, building upon it with elements of early post-structuralist ideas and oddball arcana, most notably unearthing the infamous Jocko-Homo Heavenbound pamphlet[9] (the basis for the song "Jocko Homo").[10] This association culminated in 1973, when the trio started to play music as Devo.

Devo performing live at Festival Hall, in Melbourne, Australia, 2008: Gerald Casale and Mothersbaugh

Following the commercial failure of their sixth studio album Shout, Warner Bros. dropped Devo. Shortly after, claiming to feel creatively unfulfilled, drummer Alan Myers left the band,[11] causing the remaining band members to abandon the plans for a Shout video LP, as well as a tour.

In 1987, Devo reformed with new drummer David Kendrick, formerly of Sparks, to replace Myers. Their first project was a soundtrack for the flop horror film Slaughterhouse Rock, starring Toni Basil and they released the albums Total Devo (1988) and Smooth Noodle Maps (1990), on Enigma.

Devo had a falling-out and played two shows in 1991 before breaking up. Around this time, members of Devo appeared in the film The Spirit of '76, except for Bob Mothersbaugh. In 1989, Mark Mothersbaugh established Mutato Muzika, a commercial music production studio, hiring Ryan Moore and Bob Casale; Bob Mothersbaugh was also involved.[12]

In 2006, Devo worked with Disney on the Devo 2.0 project: a band of child performers was assembled to re-record Devo songs. The Akron Beacon Journal wrote, "Devo recently finished a new project in cahoots with Disney called Devo 2.0, which features the band playing old songs and two new ones with vocals provided by children. Their debut album, a two disc CD/DVD combo entitled DEV2.0, was released on March 14, 2006. The lyrics of some of the songs were changed for family-friendly airplay, which has been claimed by the band to be a play on irony of the messages of their classic hits. Mothersbaugh doesn't rule out the idea of the band gathering in the studio, eventually, to record a new Devo album."[13] The album, Something for Everybody was eventually released in June 2010, preceded by a 12" single of "Fresh"/"What We Do".[14]

Devo was awarded the first Moog Innovator Award on October 29, 2010, during Moogfest 2010 in Asheville, North Carolina. The award aims to celebrate "pioneering artists whose genre-defying work exemplifies the bold, innovative spirit of Bob Moog".[15] Devo was scheduled to perform at Moogfest, but canceled three days beforehand after Mothersbaugh injured his hand. He and Gerald Casale collaborated with Austin, Texas, band The Octopus Project to perform "Girl U Want" and "Beautiful World" at the event instead.[16]

Other work[edit]

In 1989, Mothersbaugh and other members of Devo were involved in the project Visiting Kids, releasing a self-titled EP on the New Rose label in 1990.[17] The group featured his then-wife Nancye Ferguson, as well as David Kendrick, Bob Mothersbaugh, and Bob's daughter Alex Mothersbaugh. Mothersbaugh co-wrote some of the songs, and produced the album with Bob Casale. A promotional video was filmed for the song "Trilobites". Visiting Kids appeared on the soundtrack to the film Rockula, as well as on the Late Show with David Letterman.

Since Devo, Mothersbaugh has developed a successful career writing musical scores for film and television. In film, he has worked frequently with filmmaker Wes Anderson, scoring four of his feature films (Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou).[18] He composed for The Lego Movie[19] and Thor Ragnarok.[20][21]

His music has been a staple of the children's television shows Rugrats, Beakman's World, Santo Bugito and Clifford the Big Red Dog. He wrote the new theme song for the original Felix the Cat show when it was sold to Broadway Video, some music for Pee-wee's Playhouse in 1990 and the theme song for the Super Mario World TV series for DIC Entertainment in 1991.[22] The character design for Chuckie Finster on Rugrats was based on him.[23] Along with Bob Casale, he produced Heroes & Villains (2000), a soundtrack album with music inspired by The Powerpuff Girls.[24] Mothersbaugh originally intended to be the show's main composer, but his demo was rejected by creator Craig McCracken, who despite being a Devo fan, had concerns about his cartoon being pushed aside if a big feature film came to Mothersbaugh's production company.[24]

Mothersbaugh produces music for video games, including Sony's Crash Bandicoot and Jak and Daxter series (both music scores were created by Josh Mancell), and for EA Games' The Sims 2. This work is often performed with Mutato Muzika, the music production company he formed with several other former members of Devo including his brother, Bob Mothersbaugh.[25] Mothersbaugh composed the original score for Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart.[26]

Mothersbaugh composed:

In 2013, Mothersbaugh appeared on an episode of The Aquabats! Super Show!, an action-comedy series by the creators of Yo Gabba Gabba! starring the Devo-influenced band The Aquabats, playing the eccentric scientist father of one of the main characters, Jimmy the Robot.[28]

Mothersbaugh and Casale have produced music for other artists, including Toni Basil.[29]

Visual art[edit]

Mothersbaugh has also been successful as a visual artist. In November 2014, Mothersbaugh said, "I've done over 150 art gallery shows in the last 20 years."[30]

On February 6, 2014, the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver (MCA Denver) announced a retrospective exhibition to bring together the first comprehensive presentation of Mothersbaugh's art and music. This nationally touring exhibition was accompanied by a publication, Mark Mothersbaugh: Myopia, published by Princeton Architectural Press.[31] 50 selections of postcard art from Myopia were published as a postcard book titled Mark Mothersbaugh: Collected Facts & Lies in 2015.

Mothersbaugh hosted a drawing segment on the Nick Jr. television series Yo Gabba Gabba! called Mark's Magic Pictures, teaching children how to draw simple pictures. The pictures often come alive at the end of the segment through animation.[32]

Personal life[edit]

At the age of seven, Mothersbaugh began wearing glasses to correct his severe myopia and astigmatism, before which he was legally blind. Over the years, he took an interest in designing his own distinctive eyewear for use in Devo shows. He favored a set of stainless steel frames for regular use made by a Los Angeles shop called LA Eyeworks and says he purchased as many pairs as he could find because they tended to break or get stolen by fans.[33][34] In a joint venture with eyewear manufacturer Shane Baum, Mothersbaugh has designed his own branded frames for sale, made of beryllium with a stainless steel chrome finish, in three different styles as of 2015. The Baumvision press release states that the unisex model "Francesca" is named for one of Mothersbaugh's pug dogs which is a simultaneous hermaphrodite that is also called Frank.[34][35]

He has been married twice. His first wife was actress Nancye Ferguson, who can be seen briefly performing with him in the 1999 superhero comedy film Mystery Men. His current wife is Anita Greenspan, who runs the film music managing company Greenspan Kohan Management with Neil Kohan. The couple has two daughters from China, adopted after Greenspan learned of the practice in that country of female children being abandoned because of their gender.[7]

Mothersbaugh is a collector and connoisseur of song poems[36] and unusual or vintage musical devices. He is the owner of Raymond Scott's Electronium (although it is currently not functional).[37]

Mothersbaugh contracted COVID‑19 in May 2020, and was placed on a ventilator in an intensive care unit at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center for 18 days. In August 2020, Mothersbaugh recounted that he "nearly died" of the disease, and was in a delusional state while infected; he came to believe that he had been hospitalized after being hit by a brick in Little Tokyo, and repeatedly urged his family members to search for his attackers.[38] He described having lasting neuropathic pain as a result of the illness.[39]

Mothersbaugh was once a member of the Church of the SubGenius.[40]

Honors and awards[edit]

Mothersbaugh was honored with the Richard Kirk award at the 2004 BMI Film and TV Awards. The award is given annually to a composer of film and television music.[4]

On May 10, 2008, Mothersbaugh was awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Kent State University.[41]

On May 28, 2016, Mothersbaugh was awarded the key to the city of Akron during a ceremony at the Akron-Summit County Public Library.[42]



Years Title Notes
1986–1990 Pee-wee's Playhouse
1991–2006 Rugrats with Denis M. Hannigan, Rusty Andrews and Bob Mothersbaugh
1992–1995 Adventures in Wonderland with Denis M. Hannigan, Rusty Andrews and Josh Mancell
1995–1996 Dumb and Dumber
1999–2004 Rocket Power
2000–2003 Clifford the Big Red Dog with Josh Mancell
2000–2001 Grosse Pointe
2003–2008 All Grown Up! with Bob Mothersbaugh
2004–2005 LAX
2006 Big Love
2010–2011 Blue Mountain State
Glory Daze
2010–2017 Regular Show with John Enroth and Albert Fox
2011–2013 Enlightened
2012–2016 House of Lies
2013–2014 The Carrie Diaries
2015–2018 The Last Man on Earth
2016 Bordertown
2016–2017 People of Earth
2016 Ice Age: The Great Egg-Scapade[44] Ice Age TV special
2017 Abstract: The Art of Design
2018–present Summer Camp Island with John Enroth and Albert Fox; also theme music with Seo Kim
2018–present Disenchantment[45]
2018 Dirty John
2019–2020 What We Do in the Shadows
2020 Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness with John Enroth, Albert Fox, and Robert Mothersbaugh
2020–2022 Close Enough with John Enroth and Albert Fox
2022 Our Flag Means Death



Year Title Director(s) Studio(s) Notes
1987 Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise Joe Roth 20th Century Fox
Interscope Communications
Amercent Films
American Entertainment Partners L.P.
1988 Slaughterhouse Rock Dimitri Logothetis Taurus Entertainment Company
Arista Films
First American Film Capital


Year Title Director(s) Studio(s) Notes
1992 Frosty Returns Evert Brown
Bill Melendez
CBS Productions
Broadway Video
Bill Melendez Productions
Animated television special
1994 It's Pat Adam Bernstein Touchstone Pictures
The New Age Michael Tolkin Warner Bros.
Regency Enterprises
Alcor Films
1995 Four Rooms Allison Anders
Alexander Rockwell
Robert Rodriguez
Quentin Tarantino
A Band Apart
Miramax Films
Music producer
The Last Supper Stacy Title Columbia Pictures
1996 Happy Gilmore Dennis Dugan Universal Pictures
Brillstein-Grey Entertainment
Robert Simonds Productions
Bottle Rocket Wes Anderson Columbia Pictures
Gracie Films
1997 Best Men Tamra Davis Orion Pictures
Breaking Up Robert Greenwald Warner Bros.
Regency Enterprises
1998 Principal Takes a Holiday Robert King Walt Disney Television
Storyline Entertainment
Television film
Bongwater Richard Sears First Look Studios
Alliance Independent Films
with Josh Mancell
Dead Man on Campus Alan Cohn Paramount Pictures
MTV Productions
Pacific Western
Rushmore Wes Anderson Touchstone Pictures
American Empirical Pictures
Halloweentown Duwayne Dunham Disney Channel
Singer-White Entertainment
Television film
The Rugrats Movie Norton Virgien
Igor Kovalyov
Paramount Pictures
Nickelodeon Movies
Klasky Csupo
1999 200 Cigarettes Risa Bramon Garcia Paramount Pictures
MTV Productions
Lakeshore Entertainment
with Bob Mothersbaugh
Can of Worms Paul Schneider Disney Channel
Gross-Weston Productions
Television film
It's the Rage James D. Stern Silver Nitrate Pictures
Screenland Pictures
Drop Dead Gorgeous Michael Patrick Jann New Line Cinema


Year Title Director(s) Studio(s) Notes
2000 The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle Des McAnuff Universal Pictures
TriBeCa Productions
Jay Ward Productions
Capella International
KC Medien
Rugrats in Paris: The Movie Stig Bergqvist
Paul Demeyer
Paramount Pictures
Nickelodeon Movies
Klasky Csupo
2001 Glass, Necktie Paul Bojack E.I. Independent Cinema
Lost Battalion Films
Camouflage James Keach Sunland Studios
Camouflage Productions Inc.
Direct-to-video film
Sugar & Spice Francine McDougall New Line Cinema
Halloweentown II: Kalabar's Revenge Mary Lambert Disney Channel Television film
The Royal Tenenbaums Wes Anderson Touchstone Pictures
American Empirical Pictures
2002 Sorority Boys Wallace Wolodarsky Touchstone Pictures
Welcome to Collinwood Anthony and Joe Russo Warner Bros.
Gaylord Films
H5B5 Media AG
Pandora Cinema
Section Eight
2003 A Guy Thing Chris Koch Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
David Ladd Films
Thirteen Catherine Hardwicke Fox Searchlight Pictures
The Even Stevens Movie Sean McNamara Disney Channel Television film
Rugrats Go Wild Norton Virgien
John Eng
Paramount Pictures
Nickelodeon Movies
Klasky Csupo
Good Boy! John Robert Hoffman Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
2004 Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen Sara Sugarman Walt Disney Pictures
Envy Barry Levinson DreamWorks Pictures
Columbia Pictures
Castle Rock Entertainment
Baltimore/Spring Creek Pictures
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou Wes Anderson Touchstone Pictures
American Empirical Pictures
2005 Lords of Dogtown Catherine Hardwicke Columbia Pictures
TriStar Pictures
Art Linson Productions
Indelible Pictures
Senator International
Herbie: Fully Loaded Angela Robinson Walt Disney Pictures
Robert Simonds Productions
The Big White Mark Mylod Ascendant Pictures
Capitol Films
VIP Medienfonds 2
The Ringer Barry W. Blaustein Fox Searchlight Pictures
Conundrum Entertainment
2006 How to Eat Fried Worms Bob Dolman New Line Cinema
Walden Media
with Bob Mothersbaugh
The Dog Problem Scott Caan Thousand Words
2007 Mama's Boy Tim Hamilton Warner Bros.
2008 Quid Pro Quo Carlos Brooks Magnolia Pictures
HDNet Films
Sanford/Pillsbury Productions
2929 Productions
Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist Peter Sollett Columbia Pictures
Mandate Pictures
Depth of Field
2009 Fanboys Kyle Newman The Weinstein Company
Trigger Street Productions
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs Phil Lord
Chris Miller
Columbia Pictures
Sony Pictures Animation
Falling Up David M. Rosenthal Anchor Bay Entertainment
Circle of Eight Stephen Cragg Paramount Home Entertainment Direct-to-video film


Year Title Director(s) Studio(s) Notes
2010 Ramona and Beezus Elizabeth Allen 20th Century Fox
Fox 2000 Pictures
Di Novi Pictures
Impact Productions
Walden Media
Dune Entertainment
Eyeline Entertainment
2011 Saving Private Perez Beto Gómez Lionsgate
Pantelion Films
Pantelion Films
Salamandra Films
Lemon Films
Terregal Films
Via Media
Mexican film
Born to Be Wild[46] David Lickley Warner Bros. Pictures
IMAX Pictures
Walker World Pictures
IMAX documentary
Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked Mike Mitchell 20th Century Fox
Fox 2000 Pictures
Regency Enterprises
Bagdasarian Company
Dune Entertainment
2012 21 Jump Street Phil Lord
Chris Miller
Columbia Pictures
Relativity Media
Original Film
Cannell Studios
Safe Boaz Yakin Lionsgate
IM Global
Lawrence Bender Productions
Trigger Street Productions
87Eleven Productions
What to Expect When You're Expecting Kirk Jones Lionsgate
Alcon Entertainment
Phoenix Pictures
What to Expect Productions
Georgia Public
Hotel Transylvania Genndy Tartakovsky Columbia Pictures
Sony Pictures Animation
2013 Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 Cody Cameron
Kris Pearn
Last Vegas Jon Turteltaub CBS Films
Good Universe
2014 The Lego Movie Phil Lord
Chris Miller
Warner Bros. Pictures
Warner Animation Group
Village Roadshow Pictures
RatPac-Dune Entertainment
Lego System A/S
Vertigo Entertainment
Lin Pictures
22 Jump Street Columbia Pictures
LStar Capital
Original Film
Cannell Studios
75 Year Plan Productions
Island of Lemurs: Madagascar David Douglas Warner Bros. Pictures
IMAX Corporation
IMAX film
2015 Pitch Perfect 2 Elizabeth Banks Universal Pictures
Gold Circle Films
Brownstone Productions
Vacation[47] Jonathan Goldstein
John Francis Daley
Warner Bros. Pictures
New Line Cinema
RatPac-Dune Entertainment
Big Kid Pictures
Regular Show: The Movie J. G. Quintel Cartoon Network Studios Television movie
Hotel Transylvania 2 Genndy Tartakovsky Columbia Pictures
Sony Pictures Animation
LStar Capital
Forever Tatia Pilieva Monterey Media
Elysium Bandini Studios
Foreverland Productions
Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip[48] Walt Becker 20th Century Fox
Fox 2000 Pictures
Regency Enterprises
Bagdasarian Productions
TSG Entertainment
Scrat's Cosmic Scrat-tasrophe Mike Thurmeier 20th Century Fox
20th Century Fox Animation
Blue Sky Studios
Ice Age Short film
2016 Pee-wee's Big Holiday[49] John Lee Netflix
Pee-wee Pictures
Apatow Productions
Netflix original movie.
2017 Beatriz at Dinner Miguel Arteta Roadside Attractions
FilmNation Entertainment
Elevation Pictures
Killer Films
Bron Studios
Brad's Status Mike White Amazon Studios
Annapurna Pictures
Sidney Kimmel Entertainment
Plan B Entertainment
Puppy! Genndy Tartakovsky Columbia Pictures
Sony Pictures Animation
Hotel Transylvania short film
Me gusta, pero me asusta[50] Beto Gómez Diamond Films
Grupo Telefilms
Wetzer Films
Mexican film
The Lego Ninjago Movie[51] Charlie Bean
Paul Fisher
Bob Logan
Warner Bros. Pictures
Warner Animation Group
RatPac-Dune Entertainment
Lego System A/S
Lin Pictures
Lord Miller Productions
Vertigo Entertainment
Thor: Ragnarok[52] Taika Waititi Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Marvel Studios
2018 Pandas[46] David Douglas
Drew Fellman
Warner Bros. Pictures
IMAX Pictures
IMAX documentary
Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation Genndy Tartakovsky Columbia Pictures
Sony Pictures Animation
Holmes & Watson Etan Cohen Columbia Pictures
Mosaic Media Group
Gary Sanchez Productions
Mimran Schur Pictures
2019 The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part Mike Mitchell Warner Bros. Pictures
Warner Animation Group
Lego System A/S
Lord Miller Productions
Vertigo Entertainment


Year Title Director(s) Studio(s) Notes
2020 The Willoughbys Kris Pearn
Rob Lodermeier
Netflix Animation
Bron Studios
Creative Wealth Media
The Croods: A New Age[53] Joel Crawford Universal Pictures
DreamWorks Animation
Replaced Alan Silvestri
2021 Monster Pets Jennifer Kluska
Derek Drymon
Columbia Pictures
Sony Pictures Animation
Hotel Transylvania short film
The Mitchells vs. the Machines[54] Mike Rianda
Jeff Rowe
Columbia Pictures
Sony Pictures Animation
Lord Miller Productions
One Cool Films
America: The Motion Picture Matt Thompson Netflix
Netflix Animation
Lord Miller Productions
Floyd County Productions
Free Association
2022 Hotel Transylvania: Transformania[55] Jennifer Kluska
Derek Drymon
Amazon Studios
Columbia Pictures
Sony Pictures Animation |
2023 Cocaine Bear[56] Elizabeth Banks Brownstone Productions
Lord Miller Productions
Universal Pictures
Replaced Natalie Holt

Video games[edit]

Year Title
1996 Crash Bandicoot
1997 Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back
1998 Crash Bandicoot: Warped
1999 Crash Team Racing
Interstate '82 (with Josh Mancell)
2001 Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy
2003 Jak II
2004 Jak 3
The Sims 2
2007 MySims
The Simpsons Game
2008 Boom Blox
MySims Kingdom
2009 MySims Racing
MySims Agents
2010 Skate 3
2021 Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart


  • My Struggle (as Booji Boy)
  • What I Know Volume I
  • Beautiful Mutants


With Devo[edit]


Studio albums

  • Muzik for Insomniaks (Cassette, 1985)
    • Later released on CD as Muzik for Insomniaks, Vol. 1 and Muzik for Insomniaks, Vol. 2 in 1988 by Rykodisc
  • Muzik for the Gallery (LP, 1987)
  • Joyeux Mutato (CD, 1999, Rhino Handmade limited edition; reissued 2000 by Rhino to regular retail)
  • The Most Powerful Healing Muzik in the Entire World (6-CD Set, 2005)
  • Mutant Flora (6 × Vinyl, 7" Box Set, 2017)


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  53. ^ "Mark Mothersbaugh Scoring DreamWorks Animation's 'The Croods: A New Age'". Film Music Reporter. Film Music Reporter. September 18, 2020. Retrieved September 19, 2020.
  54. ^ Phil Lord [@philiplord] (March 3, 2020). "AND a gorgeous score by the great Mark Mothersbaugh and his team at @MutMuz" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  55. ^ "Mark Mothersbaugh Scoring 'Hotel Transylvania: Transformia'". Film Music Reporter. June 18, 2021. Retrieved June 28, 2021.
  56. ^ "Mark Mothersbaugh Scoring Elizabeth Banks' 'Cocaine Bear'". Film Music Reporter. Retrieved November 29, 2022.

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