Mike Curb – Man of Man Talents
Below is a great photo of a 1960’s Denver band – sent into me by Runaways’ band member Gary Osborne… The photo was taken in Denver’s Western Cine studio – and the older gentleman standing with the group is none other than Mike Curb! (2nd from left)
Yes – that Mike Curb – who had a diverse career in California composing songs, producing groups and artists, performing – and serving as Lt. Governor and Acting Governor (for Jerry Brown).
Curb was a conservative sort of guy for the most part – was big into car racing and kicked off a career in music as a teen while still a freshman attending college. That year – 1963 – he composed a song which was chosen by Honda for an advertising campaign “You Meet the Nicest People on a Honda (Go Little Honda)”.
Encouraged by this no doubt – Curb – still only 19 – departed college and founded Sidewalk Records which would be the launching label for Davie Allen and the Arrows (first known at “The Arrows”).
The label would showcase some interesting an eclectic collection of what would come to be remember as vintage 1960’s group including the Mugwumps (the Los Angeles group not the Mama Cass version out of New York City) – the Hands of Time – The Riptides – a group out of Florida called The Jesters (there were many Jesters in the 60’s) – the Sloopy’s – the Band With No Name – Tony & the Vizators – the 13th Power – and on and on goes the list …. Terry Stafford signed on with Sidewalk a couple years after his “Suspicion” hit it big as did Johnny Crawford, Mike (“Close to Cathy”) Clifford and England’s Chad Stewart).
Curb also helped the Stone Poneys with Linda Ronstadt and The Electric Flag start their recording careers.
He was big time into soundtrack composition with involvement in many 60’s-era “B” flicks (illustrated here). He composed more than 50 motion picture soundtracks.
Mike Curb’s Diversity – Not Just Your Average Lt. Governor….
Curb never sat still in his career – In 1969 he merged his label with MGM and promptly became the President of MGM/Verve. He partnered with Dick Clark at times via his film releases and composed a new theme song for American Bandstand.
He would step into a controversial spotlight while heading up MGM in 1970 – when – alarmed by drug deaths in the music business – he threatened to purge certain acts from the MGM/Verve roster – This apparently died a quiet death of its own when the label’s most successful artist – Eric Burdon of Animals fame – dared Curb to live up this his threat.
Curb’s “B” Flicks
His own group “The Mike Curb Congregation” recorded a top 40 hit in 1971 “Burning Bridges” which became the theme for the motion picture “Kelly’s Heroes”. The Congregation sang back-up on “The Candy Man” – a rather monotonous hit record for Sammy Davis Jr. in 1972 – so monotonous that it reached number 1 for three weeks in the nation! (Sammy’s only number 1 record). Not to sit still – the Congregation recorded a song called “Together” in 1980 which was adopted for Ronald Regan’s campaign for President. The group also performed as regulars on Glen Campbell’s national weekly TV show.
Well, you get the idea – it just went on and on for Mike Curb – diving into the political spotlight in 1978 being elected Lt. Governor and acting as Governor when Jerry Brown made a bid for the Presidency.
Vintage Curb Long Plays
On a contrasting note – Curb took a stand against measure in California banning the hiring of gays and lesbians (or even anyone who supported gay rights) in the public school system – titled “The Briggs Initiative”. Curb convinced Reagan to opposed it leading to it’s defeat. And throughout his career Curb as continued to support gay rights.
Curb was placed into the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2007.