Michael Franks (musician)
September 18, 1944|
La Jolla, California, U.S.
|Years active||1973 – present|
|Labels||Reprise/Warner Bros., Koch, Shanachie|
Michael Franks (born September 18, 1944) is an American jazz singer and songwriter, considered a leader of the quiet storm movement. He has recorded with a variety of well-known artists, such as Patti Austin, Art Garfunkel, Brenda Russell, Claus Ogerman, and David Sanborn. His songs have been recorded by Shirley Bassey, The Carpenters, Kurt Elling, Diana Krall, Patti LaBelle, Lyle Lovett, The Manhattan Transfer, Carmen McRae and Ringo Starr.
Franks grew up in southern California with his father Gerald, his mother Betty and two younger sisters. Although no one in his family played music, his parents loved swing music, and his early influences included Peggy Lee, Nat King Cole, Ira Gershwin, Irving Berlin, and Johnny Mercer. At age 14 Franks bought his first guitar, a Japanese Marco Polo for $29.95 with six private lessons included; those lessons were the only music education that he received.
At University High in San Diego, Franks discovered the poetry of Theodore Roethke with his off-rhymes and hidden meter. In high school, he began singing folk-rock, accompanying himself on guitar. Studying English at UCLA, Michael discovered Dave Brubeck, Patti Page, Stan Getz, João Gilberto, Antonio Carlos Jobim, and Miles Davis. He never studied music in college or later, but earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from UCLA in comparative literature in 1966 and a Master of Arts degree from the University of Oregon in 1968. He had a teaching assistantship in a Ph.D. program in American literature at the University of Montreal before returning to teach part-time at UCLA.
During this time Franks started writing songs, starting with the antiwar musical Anthems in E-flat starring Mark Hamill. He also composed music for the films Cockfighter (1974), starring Warren Oates, and Zandy's Bride (1974), starring Liv Ullmann and Gene Hackman. Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee recorded three of his songs, including "White Boy Lost in the Blues" on their album Sonny & Brownie. Franks played guitar, banjo and mandolin on the album and joined them in touring. In 1973, he recorded an eponymous album, later reissued as Previously Unavailable, which included the minor hit "Can't Seem to Shake This Rock 'n Roll".
In 1976 Franks released his second album The Art of Tea, which saw Franks begin a long relationship with Warner Brothers Music. The Art of Tea featured Joe Sample, Larry Carlton and Wilton Felder of The Crusaders and included the hit song "Popsicle Toes". His third album, Sleeping Gypsy (1977), which includes the song "The Lady Wants to Know", was partially recorded in Brazil. Around this time, percussionist Ray Armando gave Franks a cabasa, which became a signature instrument for him to play on stage when he was not playing guitar. Burchfield Nines (1978), which includes the song "When the Cookie Jar Is Empty", reflects his move to New York City and features more of an East Coast sound. Since then, Franks has recorded more than 15 albums.
His best known works include "When I Give My Love to You", "Popsicle Toes", "Monkey See, Monkey Do", "Lotus Blossom", "Tiger in the Rain", "Rainy Night in Tokyo", and "Tell Me All About It". His biggest hit came in 1983 with "When Sly Calls (Don't Touch That Phone)" from the album Passionfruit. Radio hits include "Your Secret's Safe With Me" from 1985's Skin Dive, and "Island Life" from 1987's The Camera Never Lies.
|Michael Franks discography|
Reissued in 1983 on DRG as Previously Unavailable
|1976||The Art of Tea||Reprise||131||-||-|
|1977||Sleeping Gypsy||Warner Bros.||119||-||-|
|1978||Burchfield Nines||Warner Bros.||90||-||-|
|1979||Tiger in the Rain||Warner Bros.||68||-||-|
|1980||One Bad Habit||Warner Bros.||83||-||-|
|1982||Objects of Desire||Warner Bros.||45||30||-|
|1985||Skin Dive||Warner Bros.||137||-||-|
|1987||The Camera Never Lies||Warner Bros.||147||-||-|
|1993||Dragonfly Summer||Warner Bros.||-||-||19|
|1995||Abandoned Garden||Warner Bros.||-||-||4|
|1999||Barefoot on the Beach||Windham Hill||-||-||9|
|2003||Watching the Snow||Sleeping Gypsy/Rhino
Re-released in 2007 on Koch Records
|2006||Rendezvous in Rio||Koch Records||-||-||11|
|2018||The Music in My Head||Shanachie||-||-||-|
|1980||Michael Franks with Crossfire Live||Warner Bros.|
|1983||Best Collection 1975 - 1983||Billboard||-|
|1988||Indispensable: The Best of Michael Franks||Warner Bros.||-|
|1998||The Best of Michael Franks: A Backward Glance||Warner Bros.||23|
|2003||The Michael Franks Anthology: The Art of Love||Warner Bros.||-|
|2004||Love Songs||Warner Bros.||-|
|2012||Original Album Series||Rhino Records||-|
|2012||The Dream 1973-2011||Warner Bros.||-|
1975 - Popsicle Toes
1977 - The Lady Wants to Know
1978 - When the Cookie Jar Is Empty
1979 - When It's Over
1980 - On My Way Home to You
1980 - One Bad Habit
1980 - Baseball
1982 - Jealousy
1982 - Love Duet (with Renee Diggs)
1982 - Comin' Home to You
1983 - Can't Seem to Shake This Rock 'n Roll
1985 - Your Secret's Safe with Me
1985 - When I Give My Love to You (with Brenda Russell)
1985 - Queen of the Underground
1985 - Michael Franks
1987 - Island Life
1987 - The Camera Never Lies
1987 - Doctor Sax / Face to Face
1990 - The Art of Love
1990 - Speak to Me
1991 - Practice Makes Perfect
1991 - Woman in the Waves
1992 - The Dream (with Yellowjackets)
1993 - Soulmate
1996 - Christmas Time Is Here (with David Benoit)
2003 - Christmas in Kyoto
2004 - Smash Up 1
|2010||The Art of Michael Franks||Veronica Nunn||Dead Horse Records|
- Eder, Bruce. "Michael Franks Biography". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 17 November 2015.
- Franks, Michael (July 2006). "Jazz Monthly Feature Interview: Michael Franks". Jazz Monthly (Interview). Interviewed by Baldwin "Smitty" Smith. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007.
- Michael Franks | Billboard