Singer-songwriter returns to Lyric

Friday, November 23, 2012

By Shelley Koppel, Staff writer

Your Voice News & Views

STUART - As a singer, Richard Marx is the first and only male artist to have his first seven singles reach the top five on Billboard magazine's singles charts.  As a songwriter, he has written for Luther Vandross, Keith Urban, Josh Groban and a host of other artists. "Dance with my Father," performed by Mr. Vandross, won several Grammy awards, including "Song of the Year" in 2004.  The son of a singer and a successful commercial jingle writer, Mr. Marx moved from Chicago to Los Angeles after high school to pursue a career in music. He worked as a background singer for several artists before landing a record contract.  He released his first album, which included "Don't Mean Nothing" and "Hold On to the Nights," when he was 24. "Don't Mean Nothing" earned him a 1988 Grammy nomination. He has had 14 hits at the top of the charts, including the 2010 adult contemporary song, "When You Loved Me."  Mr. Marx makes a return visit to the Lyric Theatre on Nov. 28-29. He spoke by phone recently about a career that spans three decades.  Mr. Marx said that he had several inspirations. "Elvis was my first idol," he said. "I was born in 1963 and he was well into his career. I wouldn't say he influenced me as a songwriter, but he was the first singer who made me think, 'I want to do that.' He was the coolest thing ever. Even as a little kid, when I'd dream about being a rock star, it was Elvis."  Sam Cooke was another influence.  "I had an uncle I idolized who was really into country and was huge fan of Sam Cooke," he said.  "He wrote all these songs. I found myself nuts over his voice, but when I found out he wrote, that planted the seed."

Mr. Marx has worked with so many artists that he finds it difficult to single one out as the best.  There were only a few he didn't enjoy, and while most of those were successful collaborations, he won't disclose their names. He much prefers to accentuate the positive.

"All of those people I've written with or produced, I either had a ball or learned a lot and been fruitful or all of the above," he said. "I studied Kenny Loggins' singing as a teenager and when I moved out to California, I met him. We've been friends for 30 years and he is singing on my Christmas record.  "I have affection for Keith Urban and Vince Gill and with Barbra Streisand, it was like going to a master class. I'm a pro, but inside, I'm a little kid who can't believe Barbra Streisand is singing my song."

Mr. Marx is a fan of the Lyric Theatre, where he performed last year. His friend Olivia Newton-John was in the audience and performed.  The singer noted that the show he is doing at the Lyric is a very different performance than when he is touring with his band. "That was rock 'n roll," he said. "This show is as if I'm having the audience at my house. I play the solo acoustic guitar and tell stores. I take them through my song-writing career, with songs as I wrote them. It's almost like a campfire. I'm a total goofball on stage. I have stories, anecdotes, and funny things. It's off-the-cuff and the audience is involved. "We're just hanging out for a couple of hours."

Singer-songwriter Richard Marx comes to the Lyric Theatre, 59 S.W. Flagler Ave., Stuart, on Nov, 28-29 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $42. 

Call the box office at (772)286-7827 or order online at