Mark Mothersbaugh

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Mark Mothersbaugh
Mothersbaugh holding a microphone to his mouth, wearing a bright yellow costume
Mothersbaugh performing in 2007
Background information
Birth name Mark Allen Mothersbaugh
Born (1950-05-18) May 18, 1950 (age 65)
Origin Akron, Ohio, U.S.
  • Musician
  • singer
  • songwriter
  • composer
  • record producer
  • painter
Years active 1972–present
Associated acts Devo
Notable instruments
Fender Telecaster
EML 500

Mark Allen Mothersbaugh (/ˈmʌðərzbɔː/; born May 18, 1950) is an American singer, songwriter, composer, record producer, and painter. In a career spanning more than 30 years, Mothersbaugh came to prominence in the late 1970s as co-founder and lead singer of the new wave band Devo, which released a top 20 hit in 1980, with the single "Whip It", and has maintained a cult following throughout its existence. He is one of the only two members (the other being bassist/synthesizer player Gerald Casale) who have been with Devo throughout its entire history. Mothersbaugh began his solo career in 1987, while still a member of Devo. Since then, he has released three studio albums.

Mothersbaugh is one of the main composers of Devo's music, and made major lyrical contributions to the band's songs.

His other musical projects include work for television series, films and video games.


Mothersbaugh attended Kent State as an art student, where he met Devo co-founders Jerry Casale and Bob Lewis. In early 1970, Lewis and Casale formed the idea of the "devolution" of the human race; Mothersbaugh, intrigued by the concept, joined them, building upon it with elements of early post-structuralist ideas and oddball arcana, most notably unearthing the infamous Jocko-Homo Heavenbound pamphlet (the basis for the song "Jocko Homo"). This culminated in 1973, when the trio started to play music as Devo.

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 half of his feature films (Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou,[4]). He also composed for The Lego Movie.[5]

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 also 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.

Visual Art[edit]

On February 6, 2014 The Museum of Contemporary Art Denver (MCA Denver) announced a retrospective exhibition that will bring together the first comprehensive presentation of Mothersbaugh's art and music to date, from the beginning of his career in the early 1970s to the present. This nationally touring exhibition will be accompanied by a publication, Mark Mothersbaugh: Myopia, published by Princeton Architectural Press.

In November 2014 Mothersbaugh said to an interviewer, "I've done over 150 art gallery shows in the last 20 years."[6]

The character design for Chuckie Finster on Rugrats was based on him.

Mothersbaugh and Casale have also produced much of Toni Basil's music.

Mothersbaugh is known for his music in video games including Sony's Crash Bandicoot and Jak and Daxter series, and 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.

Mothersbaugh composed "Having Trouble Sneezing", the distinctive music in the award-winning "Get a Mac" commercials for Apple Inc.[7]

He composed the score for the first season of the television series Big Love but was replaced after one season by David Byrne of Talking Heads. Mothersbaugh also composed the theme music for the American television show Eureka, broadcast on the SyFy channel. He currently composes the score of the Cartoon Network's TV series Regular Show.

In regard to on-camera work, Mothersbaugh hosts a drawing segment on the Nick Jr. television series Yo Gabba Gabba! called Mark's Magic Pictures, teaching children how to draw simple pictures that often come alive at the end of the segment. In 2013, he 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.[8]

Personal life[edit]

At the age of seven, he was taken to the optometrist, where he obtained his first pair of glasses. He designs his own distinctive eyewear and they are made for him by a Los Angeles shop called LA Eyeworks.[9]

Mark Mothersbaugh was honored with the Richard Kirk award at the 2004 BMI Film and TV Awards. The award is given annually to a composer who has made significant contributions to film and television music.[10]

On May 10, 2008, Mothersbaugh was awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Kent State University.[11]

He is a collector and connoisseur of song poems.[12]




Year Title Director(s) Studio(s) Notes
1987 Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise Joe Roth 20th Century Fox N/A
1988 Slaughterhouse Rock Dimitri Logothetis Arista Films N/A
1994 It's Pat Adam Bernstein Touchstone Pictures N/A
The New Age Michael Tolkin Warner Bros. Pictures N/A
1996 Happy Gilmore Dennis Dugan Universal Pictures N/A
Bottle Rocket Wes Anderson Columbia Pictures N/A
The Last Supper Stacy Title Columbia Pictures N/A
1997 Best Men Tamra Davis Orion Pictures N/A
Breaking Up Robert Greenwald Warner Bros. Pictures N/A
1998 Principal Takes a Holiday Robert King Walt Disney Television
Television film
Mary Jane's Not a Virgin Anymore Sarah Jacobson Station Wagon Productions N/A
Bongwater Richard Sears Alliance Independent Films N/A
Dead Man on Campus Alan Cohn Paramount Pictures N/A
Rushmore Wes Anderson Touchstone Pictures N/A
Halloweentown Duwayne Dunham Disney Channel Television film
The Rugrats Movie Norton Virgien
Igor Kovalyov
Paramount Pictures
Klasky Csupo
1999 200 Cigarettes Risa Bramon Garcia Paramount Pictures with Bob Mothersbaugh
Can of Worms Paul Schneider Disney Channel Television film
It's the Rage James D. Stern Silver Nitrate Pictures N/A
Drop Dead Gorgeous Michael Patrick Jann New Line Cinema N/A
2000 The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle Des McAnuff Universal Pictures N/A
Rugrats in Paris: The Movie Stig Bergqvist
Paul Demeyer
Paramount Pictures
Klasky Csupo
2001 Glass, Necktie Paul Bojack E.I. Independent Cinema N/A
Camouflage James Keach Sunland Studios Direct-to-video film
Sugar & Spice Francine McDougall New Line Cinema N/A
The Royal Tenenbaums Wes Anderson Touchstone Pictures N/A
2002 Sorority Boys Wallace Wolodarsky Touchstone Pictures N/A
Welcome to Collinwood Anthony and Joe Russo Warner Bros. Pictures N/A
2003 A Guy Thing Chris Koch Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer N/A
Thirteen Catherine Hardwicke Fox Searchlight Pictures N/A
Rugrats Go Wild Norton Virgien
John Eng
Paramount Pictures
Klasky Csupo
Good Boy! John Robert Hoffman Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer N/A
2004 Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen Sara Sugarman Walt Disney Pictures N/A
Envy Barry Levinson DreamWorks Pictures N/A
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou Wes Anderson Touchstone Pictures N/A
2005 Lords of Dogtown Catherine Hardwicke Columbia Pictures
TriStar Pictures
Herbie: Fully Loaded Angela Robinson Walt Disney Pictures N/A
The Big White Mark Mylod Ascendant Pictures N/A
First Descent Kemp Curly
Kevin Harrison
Universal Pictures N/A
The Ringer Barry W. Blaustein Fox Searchlight Pictures N/A
2006 How to Eat Fried Worms Bob Dolman New Line Cinema with Bob Mothersbaugh
The Dog Problem Scott Caan Thousand Words N/A
2007 Mama's Boy Tim Hamilton Warner Bros. Pictures N/A
2008 Quid Pro Quo Carlos Brooks Magnolia Pictures N/A
Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist Peter Sollett Columbia Pictures N/A
2009 Fanboys Kyle Newman The Weinstein Company N/A
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs Phil Lord
Chris Miller
Columbia Pictures
Sony Pictures Animation
Falling Up David M. Rosenthal Anchor Bay Entertainment N/A
Circle of Eight Stephen Cragg Paramount Home Entertainment Direct-to-video film
2010 Ramona and Beezus Elizabeth Allen 20th Century Fox N/A
2011 Saving Private Perez Beto Gomez Lionsgate
Pantelion Films
Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked Mike Mitchell 20th Century Fox N/A
2012 21 Jump Street Phil Lord
Chris Miller
Columbia Pictures
Safe Boaz Yakin Lionsgate N/A
What to Expect When You're Expecting Kirk Jones Lionsgate N/A
Hotel Transylvania Genndy Tartakovsky Columbia Pictures
Sony Pictures Animation
2013 Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 Cody Cameron
Kris Pearn
Columbia Pictures
Sony Pictures Animation
Last Vegas Jon Turteltaub CBS Films N/A
2014 The Lego Movie Phil Lord
Chris Miller
Warner Bros. Pictures
Village Roadshow Pictures
Lego System AS
22 Jump Street Phil Lord
Chris Miller
Columbia Pictures
Island of Lemurs: Madagascar David Douglas Warner Bros. Pictures
IMAX Corporation
IMAX film
2015 Pitch Perfect 2 Elizabeth Banks Universal Pictures N/A
Vacation[14] Jonathan Goldstein
John Francis Daley
Warner Bros. Pictures
Village Roadshow Pictures
New Line Cinema
Hotel Transylvania 2 Genndy Tartakovsky Columbia Pictures
Sony Pictures Animation
Forever Tatia Pilieva Foreverland Productions N/A


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



Main article: Devo discography

Solo albums[edit]

Studio albums
  • Muzik for Insomniaks (Cassette, 1987)
    • 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)


  1. ^ Pat Long (2009-05-02). "Pat Long meets new wave 80s oddballs Devo, who are intent on making a comeback | Music". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2012-05-09. 
  2. ^ "Devo". AllMusic. Retrieved 2012-09-30. 
  3. ^ Steinberg and Michael Kehler (2010), p.355
  4. ^ "IMDb". Retrieved 2007-07-17. 
  5. ^ "IMDb". Retrieved 2014-08-17. 
  6. ^ Hesse, Josiah (November 8, 2014). "Devo's Mark Mothersbaugh Still Loves Fucking with People". LA Weekly. Retrieved 2014-11-08. 
  7. ^ Roberts, Randall (December 7, 2007). "Are You Not Devo? You Are Mutato". LA Weekly. Retrieved 2008-10-31. 
  8. ^ Sagers, Aaron (June 14, 2013). "Mark Mothersbaugh joins 'The Aquabats! Super Show!'". MTV Geek. 
  9. ^ Peskowitz, Josh (June 11, 2010). "Eye Glasses of the Day: Mark Mothersbaugh's". Esquire. Retrieved 2010-06-20. 
  10. ^ "BMI Hands Out Over 100 Awards at Annual Film/TV Gala". Retrieved 2010-10-28. 
  11. ^ "Muzika Mutato".  Mothersbaugh's professional website
  12. ^ NERDIST Podcast Episode 130: Penn & Teller; Penn discusses his involvement along with Mark & Tom Ardolino of NRBQ with collecting song poems (starting at 05:53 in the podcast).
  13. ^
  14. ^ "‘Vacation’ Reboot to Feature Music by Mark Mothersbaugh". Film Music Reporter (Film Music Reporter). 29 April 2015. Retrieved 30 April 2015. 

External links[edit]