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Tom Waits

Thomas Alan Waits, (born December 7, 1949) is an American composer, singer, musician and actor.

Early Career

Born in Pomona, California, Waits' recording career began in 1971, after he relocated to Los Angeles and signed with Herb Cohen, manager of Frank Zappa, among others. After numerous abortive recording sessions, his first record, the melancholic, country-tinged Closing Time (1973) received warm reviews, but he first gained national attention when his "Ol' 55" was recorded by The Eagles in 1974. The Heart of Saturday Night showed his roots as a nightclub singer, half speaking and half crooning ballads, often with a soft jazz background. The 1975 album Nighthawks at the Diner, recorded in a studio but with a small audience to capture the ambience of a live show, captures this phase of his career, including the lengthy spoken interludes between songs that punctuated his live act.

Small Change (1976) featuring famed drummer Shelly Manne, was jazzier still, and songs such as "The Piano Has Been Drinking" and "Bad Liver and a Broken Heart" cemented his hard living reputation, with a lyrical style pitched somewhere between Raymond Chandler and Charles Bukowski. Foreign Affairs (1977) and Blue Valentine (1978) were in a similar vein, but showed further refinement of his artistic voice. 1980 saw the commencement of a long working relationship with Francis Ford Coppola, who asked him to provide music for his film One From The Heart. Waits would also act in Coppola's Rumblefish, The Outsiders, The Cotton Club and Dracula (as the insane Renfield), and work with such directors as Jim Jarmusch and Robert Altman. In August 1980, he married Kathleen Brennan, whom he had met on the set of One From The Heart. With his wife, he wrote and performed in Big Time, a slightly surreal concert movie. His wife is regularly credited as co-author of many songs on his later released albums, and is often cited by Waits as a major influence on his work.

1980s and later

After he left Asylum Records for Island Records in 1983, his music became less mainstream. His trio of albums from the mid-1980s, Swordfishtrombones, Rain Dogs and Frank's Wild Years, all featured some degree of eclectic instrumentation -- Waits' self described "Junkyard Orchestra"--often marrying soul music horn sections to avant-garde percussion reminiscent of Harry Partch's, or the distorted guitar of Marc Ribot. He also gradually altered his singing style, sounding less like the late-night crooner of the 70s, instead adopting a gravelly voice reminiscent of Howling Wolf and Captain Beefheart. The last of these albums -- an off-Broadway musical co-written with his wife -- and the later collaboration with William S. Burroughs on The Black Rider both demonstrated the increasing interest in theatre, which has resulted in a somewhat successful acting career as well as soundtrack work.

In the popular perception, however, he and his work remain mostly characterised by his rocky voice, his strong personality and theatrical presence on stage and the "late night smoky bars" humour of his texts ("I'd rather have a free bottle in front of me than a pre-frontal lobotomy."). Waits has been reported as having bipolar disorder. In essence, however, and despite his songs having been covered by famous stars such as Bruce Springsteen and Rod Stewart, Waits remains a cult performer, steadfastly outside the mainstream.

Lawsuits

Waits has steadfastly refused to allow the use of his songs in commercials and has filed several lawsuits against advertisers who used his material without permission. The first lawsuit was filed in 1988 against Frito Lay, and resulted in a US$2.6 million judgement in Waits' favor. Frito Lay had approached Waits to use one of his songs in an advertisement. Waits declined the offer, and Frito Lay hired a Waits soundalike to sing a jingle similar to "Step Right Up," which is, ironically, a song Waits has called "an indictment of advertising." [1] (http://www.joe.trussell.com/waits/frito_lay.html) ("Step Right Up" concludes with the lyric "What the large print giveth, the small print taketh away").

In 1993, Levi's used Screamin' Jay Hawkins' version of Waits' "Heartattack and Vine" in a commercial. Waits sued, and Levis agreed to cease all use of the song, and offered a full page apology in Billboard Magazine. [2] (http://www.keeslau.com/TomWaitsSupplement/Copyright/copyrightwaitslevis.htm)

In 2000, an Audi commercial broadcast in Spain featured music very similar to Waits' "Innocent When You Dream", after Waits first had declined when they approached him about using the original. A Spanish court recognized there had been a violation of Waits’s moral rights, in addition to the infringement of copyright [3] (http://www.anti.com/news.php?newsid=86715). The production company, Tandem Campany Guasch, was ordered to pay compensation to Waits through his Spanish publisher.

Discography

Major releases


+ Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album


^ Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album

Collections

  • 1983 Anthology of Tom Waits (Elektra)
  • 1991 The Early Years, Volume One
  • 1993 The Early Years, Volume Two
  • 1998 Beautiful Maladies: The Island Years

Contributions

  • 1991 Sailing the Seas of Cheese, by Primus: Waits does character vocals on Tommy The Cat
  • 1992 Beautiful Mess, by Thelonious Monster: Waits appears as a guest singer on Adios Lounge
  • 1993 Jesus Blood Never Failed Me Yet, by Gavin Bryars: Waits appears as guest singer
  • 1999 Antipop, by Primus: Waits does vocals on Coattails of a Deadman
  • 2000 Helium, by Tin Hat Trio: Waits appears as guest singer on Helium Reprise
  • 2001 It's A Wonderful Life, by Sparklehorse: Waits does vocals on "Dog Door"
  • 2002 For the Kids by various artists: Waits performs the lullaby "Bring Down the Branches"
  • 2004 The Ride by Los Lobos: Waits does vocals on the track "Kitate"
  • 2004 The Late Great Daniel Johnston by various artists: Waits covers Johnston's "King Kong"

Tribute albums

  • 1995 Temptation, Holly Cole
  • 1995 Step Right Up, various artists
  • 2000 New Coat of Paint, various artists
  • 2001 Wicked Grin, John Hammond
  • 2004 Step Right Up: The Songs of Tom Waits, various artists

Filmography

  • 1978 Movie debut as 'Mumbles' in Paradise Alley.
  • 1980 Worked with Francis Ford Coppola on the soundtrack to One From The Heart.
  • 1982 Soundtrack of One From The Heart. Nominated for an Academy Award for best original score.
    • Played petrified man in carnival in The Stone Boy.
  • 1983 Played Buck Merrill in The Outsiders.
    • Played Bennie the pool hall owner in Rumble Fish.
  • 1984 Played Irving Stark in The Cotton Club.
  • 1986 Starred as Zack in Down by Law.
  • 1987 Played Rudy The Kraut in Ironweed.
    • Played Al Silk in Candy Mountain.
  • 1989 Played the 'Punch & Judy Man' in Bearskin: An Urban Fairytale.
    • Starred as Kenny the Hitman in Cold Feet.
    • Voice of the radio DJ in Mystery Train. Composer on Sea of Love
  • 1990 Played a plainclothes policeman in The Two Jakes.
  • 1991 Played Wolf in At Play in the Fields of the Lord.
    • Played a disabled Veteran beggar in The Fisher King.
    • Wrote the score of Night on Earth (With Kathleen Brennan).
    • Played Monte in Queens Logic.
  • 1992 Composer (With Kathleen Brennan) on American Heart.
    • Played R.M. Renfield in Bram Stoker's Dracula.
    • Played Earl Piggott in Short Cuts.
  • 1996 Composer on soundtrack of Dead Man Walking.
    • Composer on soundtrack of The End of Violence.
  • 1999 Mystery Men -- played an inventor who specialized in non-lethal weapons.
  • 2003 Appeared in conversation with Iggy Pop in Coffee and Cigarettes: Somewhere In America.
  • 2004 Composer (with Kathleen Brennan) on soundtrack of "Shrek 2"

Tours

  • 1973 Closing Time touring
  • 1974-1975 The Heart Of Saturday Night touring
  • 1975-1976 Small Change touring
  • 1977 Foreign Affairs touring
  • 1978-1979 Blue Valentine touring
  • 1980-1982 Heartattack and Vine touring
  • 1985 Rain Dogs touring
  • 1987 Big Time touring
  • 1999 Get Behind The Mule Tour
  • 2004 Real Gone Tour

See also:

  • Kazik Staszewski, Polish artist extensively covering Waits
  • Holly Cole, Canadian artist covering Waits' songs in jazz style

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^ Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album. The group was inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2001.
+ Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album. Additional reunion concerts were staged in 1964 and 1980. A Spanish court recognized there had been a violation of Waits’s moral rights, in addition to the infringement of copyright [3] (http://www.anti.com/news.php?newsid=86715). The production company, Tandem Campany Guasch, was ordered to pay compensation to Waits through his Spanish publisher. Ronnie Gilbert has had a solo career as well. In 2000, an Audi commercial broadcast in Spain featured music very similar to Waits' "Innocent When You Dream", after Waits first had declined when they approached him about using the original. After Eric Darling left the group, he was replaced by Frank Hamilton and then Bernie Krause.

[2] (http://www.keeslau.com/TomWaitsSupplement/Copyright/copyrightwaitslevis.htm). Seeger left the group to return to his solo career, and the Weavers continued without him. Waits sued, and Levis agreed to cease all use of the song, and offered a full page apology in Billboard Magazine. The concert was a huge success, a recording of which was issued by Vanguard Records and led to their signing to that record label (by the late 1950s, folk music was becoming popular and anti-communism was fading). In 1993, Levi's used Screamin' Jay Hawkins' version of Waits' "Heartattack and Vine" in a commercial. In 1955, the group reunited to play a sold-out concert at Carnegie Hall, a venue whose management was unaware of the controversy surrounding the group. Waits declined the offer, and Frito Lay hired a Waits soundalike to sing a jingle similar to "Step Right Up," which is, ironically, a song Waits has called "an indictment of advertising." [1] (http://www.joe.trussell.com/waits/frito_lay.html) ("Step Right Up" concludes with the lyric "What the large print giveth, the small print taketh away"). Pete Seeger continued his solo career after the group disbanded in 1952.

Frito Lay had approached Waits to use one of his songs in an advertisement. Their popularity diminished rapidly, and the group's record contract was terminated. The first lawsuit was filed in 1988 against Frito Lay, and resulted in a US$2.6 million judgement in Waits' favor. The Weavers were an easy target because of their fame and popularity on the radio and with the record-buying public. Waits has steadfastly refused to allow the use of his songs in commercials and has filed several lawsuits against advertisers who used his material without permission. Anti-communists protested at their performances and harassed promoters. In essence, however, and despite his songs having been covered by famous stars such as Bruce Springsteen and Rod Stewart, Waits remains a cult performer, steadfastly outside the mainstream. The Weavers were targeted because of their history of singing protest songs and folk songs favoring labor unions as well as for the leftist political beliefs of the individuals in the group.

Waits has been reported as having bipolar disorder. However, despite their caution, they were nonetheless placed under FBI surveillance and blacklisted by the US government during the McCarthy era. In the popular perception, however, he and his work remain mostly characterised by his rocky voice, his strong personality and theatrical presence on stage and the "late night smoky bars" humour of his texts ("I'd rather have a free bottle in front of me than a pre-frontal lobotomy."). The Weavers avoided the more controversial songs in their repetoire, as well as avoiding performing at controversial venues and events, and the leftwing press derided them as having sold out their beliefs in exchange for popular success. The last of these albums -- an off-Broadway musical co-written with his wife -- and the later collaboration with William S. Burroughs on The Black Rider both demonstrated the increasing interest in theatre, which has resulted in a somewhat successful acting career as well as soundtrack work. They were the direct precursors of two even more popular folk groups that followed them in the 1950s and 1960s, The Kingston Trio and Peter, Paul and Mary. He also gradually altered his singing style, sounding less like the late-night crooner of the 70s, instead adopting a gravelly voice reminiscent of Howling Wolf and Captain Beefheart. The Weavers sang traditional folk songs from around the world, as well as blues, folk, gospel music, children's songs, labor songs and ballads from the US, selling millions of records at the height of their popularity.

His trio of albums from the mid-1980s, Swordfishtrombones, Rain Dogs and Frank's Wild Years, all featured some degree of eclectic instrumentation -- Waits' self described "Junkyard Orchestra"--often marrying soul music horn sections to avant-garde percussion reminiscent of Harry Partch's, or the distorted guitar of Marc Ribot. The group had a big hit in 1949 with Leadbelly's Goodnight Irene, backed with the Jewish traditional folk song Tzena, Tzena. After he left Asylum Records for Island Records in 1983, his music became less mainstream. This led to their discovery by arranger Gordon Jenkins and their signing with Decca Records. His wife is regularly credited as co-author of many songs on his later released albums, and is often cited by Waits as a major influence on his work. After a period of finding themselves unable to find much, if any paid work, they finally achieved a performance slot at the jazz club the Village Vanguard. With his wife, he wrote and performed in Big Time, a slightly surreal concert movie. The name came from a play of the same name by Gerhart Johann Robert Hauptmann.

In August 1980, he married Kathleen Brennan, whom he had met on the set of One From The Heart. A fifth member, Eric Darling, sometimes sat in with the group when Seeger was unavailable. Waits would also act in Coppola's Rumblefish, The Outsiders, The Cotton Club and Dracula (as the insane Renfield), and work with such directors as Jim Jarmusch and Robert Altman. The Weavers group was formed in 1947 by Ronnie Gilbert, Lee Hays, Fred Hellerman and Pete Seeger. 1980 saw the commencement of a long working relationship with Francis Ford Coppola, who asked him to provide music for his film One From The Heart. The Weavers were an immensely popular and influential folk music quartet from Greenwich Village, New York, United States. Foreign Affairs (1977) and Blue Valentine (1978) were in a similar vein, but showed further refinement of his artistic voice. Wasn't That a Time! video.

Small Change (1976) featuring famed drummer Shelly Manne, was jazzier still, and songs such as "The Piano Has Been Drinking" and "Bad Liver and a Broken Heart" cemented his hard living reputation, with a lyrical style pitched somewhere between Raymond Chandler and Charles Bukowski. The Weavers on Tour (Live). The 1975 album Nighthawks at the Diner, recorded in a studio but with a small audience to capture the ambience of a live show, captures this phase of his career, including the lengthy spoken interludes between songs that punctuated his live act. We Wish You a Merry Christmas. The Heart of Saturday Night showed his roots as a nightclub singer, half speaking and half crooning ballads, often with a soft jazz background. Goodnight Irene: Weavers 1949-53 box set. After numerous abortive recording sessions, his first record, the melancholic, country-tinged Closing Time (1973) received warm reviews, but he first gained national attention when his "Ol' 55" was recorded by The Eagles in 1974. Gospel.

Born in Pomona, California, Waits' recording career began in 1971, after he relocated to Los Angeles and signed with Herb Cohen, manager of Frank Zappa, among others. Best of the Weavers. Thomas Alan Waits, (born December 7, 1949) is an American composer, singer, musician and actor. The Weavers Classics. Holly Cole, Canadian artist covering Waits' songs in jazz style. Ultimate Collection. Kazik Staszewski, Polish artist extensively covering Waits. The Best of the Decca Years.

2004 Real Gone Tour. The Almanac. 1999 Get Behind The Mule Tour. Kisses Sweeter Than Wine (Live). 1987 Big Time touring. Rarities From the Vanguard Vault. 1985 Rain Dogs touring. 2 (Live).

1980-1982 Heartattack and Vine touring. Reunion at Carnegie Hall No. 1978-1979 Blue Valentine touring. 2 (Live). 1977 Foreign Affairs touring. The Reunion at Carnegie Hall, 1963, Pt. 1975-1976 Small Change touring. The Weavers Reunion at Carnegie Hall: 1963 (Live).

1974-1975 The Heart Of Saturday Night touring. Best of the Vanguard Years. 1973 Closing Time touring. Wasn't That a Time! box set. 2004 Composer (with Kathleen Brennan) on soundtrack of "Shrek 2". 2. 2003 Appeared in conversation with Iggy Pop in Coffee and Cigarettes: Somewhere In America. The Weavers at Carnegie Hall (Live) Vol.

1999 Mystery Men -- played an inventor who specialized in non-lethal weapons. The Weavers at Carnegie Hall (Live). Composer on soundtrack of The End of Violence. The Weavers' Greatest Hits. 1996 Composer on soundtrack of Dead Man Walking.

    . Played Earl Piggott in Short Cuts.

    Renfield in Bram Stoker's Dracula. Played R.M. 1992 Composer (With Kathleen Brennan) on American Heart.

      . Played Monte in Queens Logic.

      Wrote the score of Night on Earth (With Kathleen Brennan). Played a disabled Veteran beggar in The Fisher King. 1991 Played Wolf in At Play in the Fields of the Lord.

        . 1990 Played a plainclothes policeman in The Two Jakes.

        Composer on Sea of Love. Voice of the radio DJ in Mystery Train. Starred as Kenny the Hitman in Cold Feet. 1989 Played the 'Punch & Judy Man' in Bearskin: An Urban Fairytale.

          .

          Played Al Silk in Candy Mountain. 1987 Played Rudy The Kraut in Ironweed.

            . 1986 Starred as Zack in Down by Law. 1984 Played Irving Stark in The Cotton Club.

            Played Bennie the pool hall owner in Rumble Fish. 1983 Played Buck Merrill in The Outsiders.

              . Played petrified man in carnival in The Stone Boy. Nominated for an Academy Award for best original score.
                .

                1982 Soundtrack of One From The Heart. 1980 Worked with Francis Ford Coppola on the soundtrack to One From The Heart. 1978 Movie debut as 'Mumbles' in Paradise Alley. 2004 Step Right Up: The Songs of Tom Waits, various artists.

                2001 Wicked Grin, John Hammond. 2000 New Coat of Paint, various artists. 1995 Step Right Up, various artists. 1995 Temptation, Holly Cole.

                2004 The Late Great Daniel Johnston by various artists: Waits covers Johnston's "King Kong". 2004 The Ride by Los Lobos: Waits does vocals on the track "Kitate". 2002 For the Kids by various artists: Waits performs the lullaby "Bring Down the Branches". 2001 It's A Wonderful Life, by Sparklehorse: Waits does vocals on "Dog Door".

                2000 Helium, by Tin Hat Trio: Waits appears as guest singer on Helium Reprise. 1999 Antipop, by Primus: Waits does vocals on Coattails of a Deadman. 1993 Jesus Blood Never Failed Me Yet, by Gavin Bryars: Waits appears as guest singer. 1992 Beautiful Mess, by Thelonious Monster: Waits appears as a guest singer on Adios Lounge.

                1991 Sailing the Seas of Cheese, by Primus: Waits does character vocals on Tommy The Cat. 1998 Beautiful Maladies: The Island Years. 1993 The Early Years, Volume Two. 1991 The Early Years, Volume One.

                1983 Anthology of Tom Waits (Elektra).

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