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Jerry Harrison

Jerry HarrisonAKA Jeremiah Griffin Harrison

Born: 21-Feb-1949
Birthplace: Milwaukee, WI

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Musician, Music Producer

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Guitar and keyboard player for Talking Heads

Born in Milwaukee, Jeremiah Harrison initiated his musical training in the fourth grade, intermittently pursuing piano lessons while also briefly studying clarinet and saxophone. Throughout high school he kept active with a variety of bands, and this activity carried over into his three years at Harvard, where he formed the outfit Albatross with roommate Ernie Brooks. Albatross disbanded in mid-1969, but Harrison continued his partnership with Brooks in Catfish Black and briefly in The Eagles. Harrison's career as a professional musician was finally launched in 1971 as a result of his association with Jonathan Richman -- although it was prevented from getting properly underway until several years later for this same reason. Shortly after their first meeting at a party in Cambridge, Richman invited both Harrison and Brooks to join The Modern Lovers, but -- despite support from John Cale and interest from both Warner Brothers and A&M Records -- the singer's difficult behavior prevented any releases from materializing during the band's three year lifespan. This lack of recorded output did not prevent The Modern Lovers from establishing a dedicated following through their live performances, and a posthumous 1976 album culled from sessions produced by both Cale and Alan Mason (seperately) proved to be a significant influence on the emerging punk/new-wave scene.

Upon the dissolution of The Modern Lovers, Harrison joined up with songwriter Elliott Murphy for the album Night Lights (1976) and its associated tour; brief tenures with a handful of other bands followed, but ultimately he chose to resume his study of architecture at Harvard. His schooling was soon interrupted a second time by an invitation to join Talking Heads, and after completing one more semester Harrison was lured, once and for all, into the life of a professional musician. By the time of his membership, the trio configuration of Talking Heads had already established themselves on the New York City club circuit and released the single Love Goes to a Building on Fire on Sire Records; but it was as a four-piece that the band's popularity expanded to an international scale, particularly with the release of their debut full-length Talking Heads: 77 and the single Psycho Killer. Three more albums were released by the onset of the next decade (More Songs About Buildings and Food (1978), Fear of Music (1979) and Remain in Light (1980)), each of which served to increase the band's reputation amongst both critics and fans.

During a break from band activity in 1981, Harrison recorded his first solo effort The Red and the Black, an album which featured contributions from guitarist Adrian Belew, former P-Funk keyboardist Bernie Worrell and vocalist Nona Hendryx (all participants in the expanded Heads line-up that had recorded Remain in Light). The release was not given as much attention as his bandmate's extra-curricular projects (David Byrne's Catherine Wheel score and his Brian Eno collaboration My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth's album as Tom Tom Club), and it would be six years before the appearance of his second solo album Casual Gods (1987). The interim between the two was primarily filled by his work on three further studio albums and two film projects with Talking Heads, although 5 Minutes -- a one-off recording with Bernie Worrell and Bootsy Collins working under the name Bonzo Goes to Washington -- was issued in 1984. During this period Harrison also launched a parallel career as a record producer, helming sessions for The Blind Leading the Naked by The Violent Femmes, Milwaukee by Elliott Murphy, and producing several tracks for the Jonathan Demme film Something Wild (all three of which took place between 1985 and 1986).

After the release of the Talking Heads' final album Naked in 1988, the focus of Jerry Harrison's activities shifted to his production work (although a third solo album Walking on Water and its associated tour were realized in 1990). In the 90s his credits (and industry standing) as a producer grew to considerable proportions through involvement with platinum-selling releases by acts such as Live, Crash Test Dummies, The Verve Pipe, and Kenny Wayne Shepherd. His extensive resume also included albums by Poi Dog Pondering (Volo Volo, 1991), Black 47 (Home of the Brave, 1994), Fatima Mansions (Lost in the Former West, 1995), Rusted Root (Remember, 1996) and Bijou Phillips (I'd Rather Eat Glass, 1999). A short-lived musicial reunion with Frantz and Weymouth came about in 1996 when the three formed The Heads, a project originally intended as a Talking Heads reunion and then altered when Byrne refused to participate; consequently, the group's sole album No Talking, Just Head made use of several replacement vocalists ranging from Debbie Harry to Andy Partridge. A proper reunion of the full band did eventually take place (although only for a single evening) on the occasion of their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002. Harrision has since continued to concentrate on his career as a producer for other artists, in addition to maintaining his role as Chairman of the Board for (an internet music resource he co-founded in 1999).

    University: Harvard University (1967-69)

    Catfish Black Keyboardist (1969-70)
    The Modern Lovers Keyboardist/Guitarist (1971-74)
    Talking Heads Keyboardist/Guitarist/Vocalist (1976-91)
    The Escalators Keyboardist/Guitarist (1980)
    Bonzo Goes to Washington (1984)
    The Heads Keyboardist/Guitarist (1996)
    Jerry Harrison
    Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2002 (with Talking Heads)

    The Darwin Awards (25-Jan-2006) · Bar Patron
    True Stories (10-Oct-1986) · Lip-Syncher
    Stop Making Sense (24-Apr-1984)

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