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Marshall Crenshaw Biography


Home > Music > C > Crenshaw, Marshall > Biography


Genres: Alternative/Indie, Folk, Pop, Rock


Marshall Crenshaw (born November 11, 1953) is an American singer, songwriter and guitarist known for his well-crafted songwriting and eclectic musical career.

Born in Detroit, Michigan, he grew up in the northern suburb of Berkley, Michigan. Marshall graduated from Berkley High School in June 1971. Crenshaw began playing guitar at age ten. From 1968 to 1973 he led the band Astigafa (an acronym for "a splendid time is guaranteed for all", a lyric from The Beatles' "Being For The Benefit of Mr. Kite"). He got his first break playing John Lennon in the off-Broadway company of the musical ''Beatlemania''.

While in New York, he recorded a single, "Something's Gonna Happen", for Alan Betrock's Shake Records, after which he was signed to Warner Bros. Records. Retro rocker Robert Gordon took Crenshaw's "Someday, Someway" to #76 in 1981, and Crenshaw's own version made #36 the next year; it would be his only ''Billboard'' Top 40 'Pop' hit. On the ''Cash Box'' magazine chart the song did even better, reaching #31.

Throughout the rest of the decade Marshall enjoyed considerable airplay on AOR (Album-Oriented Rock) stations nationwide with many tracks and became very well known in his native Michigan. Spongetones member Jamie Hoover lists "Someday, Someway" as one of his 10 favorite songs of all time.

Crenshaw's eponymous first album, which included the nationwide hit "Someday, Someway," was acclaimed as a pop masterpiece upon release, proving him a first-rate songwriter, singer and guitarist. His second album, ''Field Day'', released in early 1983 sported a somewhat heavier sound, as evidenced on "Whenever You're On My Mind," that displeased some listeners, but which is regarded by many critics as Crenshaw's best, and one of the classic power pop statements, although Crenshaw's work, like Alex Chilton's, transcends the genre. "Some of the stuff I've done you could call power pop," he told an interviewer, "but the term does have sort of a dodgy connotation."

Marshall Crenshaw's music has roots in classic soul music, British Invasion songcraft, Burt Bacharach and Buddy Holly—to whom Crenshaw was often compared in the early days of his career, and whom he portrayed in the 1987 film ''La Bamba''.

In 1989, he compiled a collection of Capitol Records country performers of the 1950s and '60s called ''Hillbilly Music...Thank God, Vol. 1'', which was extremely well-received.

In 1993, he made an appearance in the cult TV show ''The Adventures of Pete and Pete'', in the role of a guitar-playing meter reader, and in 1994, he published a book, ''Hollywood Rock: A Guide to Rock 'n' Roll in the Movies''.

He continued to record in the 1990s and 2000s, and, in 1999, released the critically acclaimed ''#447''.

In the 2000s, Crenshaw played guitar as a special guest with the reunited members of the MC5.

Crenshaw penned the title track from the 2007 film ''Walk Hard'' starring John C. Reilly; the song, as sung by Reilly, was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song..

Crenshaw's latest release, ''Jaggedland'', was released in June 2009 on his new record label 429 Records.

Crenshaw is also a noted guitarist who uses offbeat chord progressions (almost verging towards jazz) and tight leads.