Pop music superstar, songwriter and producer Richard Marx joined host Kenneth Womack to talk about his decades-long career, Beatles influences, his new memoir "Stories To Tell," and much more on "Everything Fab Four," a podcast co-produced by me and Womack (a music scholar who also writes about pop music for Salon) and distributed by Salon.
Chicago-born Marx, who released his self-titled debut album in 1987, went on to have a string of 14 top 20 hits in the late '80s and early '90s, including "Don't Mean Nothing," "Hold On to the Nights" and "Right Here Waiting." As he tells Womack, he started out singing in commercials for his jazz-pianist-turned-ad-man father's jingle company at the age of five. "I grew up in the recording studio as much as I did the classroom."
At that time, Marx was "more of a Monkees fan," and even went through a strong country music phase, before the Beatles' "Got to Get You Into My Life" was re-released as a single in 1976. After hearing it on the radio, the band was on his radar, sending him on a search that he likened to "discovering a TV show and finding out multiple seasons already existed" and the excitement of "being able to binge."
After combing through the Beatles' "Red" and "Blue" compilations, he couldn't wait to find the original albums and hear the other songs he'd been missing (such as "For No One" on what he now considers his favorite album, "Revolver.") "To think about what they did in the short period of time they did it," says Marx, "My brain explodes."
When it comes to making his own music and songwriting, he lists several artists as influences including Sam Cooke, Paul Simon and Lionel Richie (who actually helped Marx get his start in L.A.). As far as the Beatles go, Marx calls himself "a huge Lennon fan" but says it's the melodies that Paul McCartney (and even George Harrison) wrote that had the most impact on him.
And as for that fourth Beatle, Ringo Starr? Marx has not only had the pleasure of touring with the All-Starr Band and even recording songs with "incredible musician" Ringo, but he also counts him as a friend. "He's generous, fun and funny — he's truly everything you'd want Ringo to be."
And for all of Marx's experiences and achievements, he still says that "the Beatles, to this day, simply continue to amaze me."
Listen to the entire conversation with Richard Marx on "Everything Fab Four," and subscribe via Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google or wherever you get your podcasts.
"Everything Fab Four" is distributed by Salon. Host Kenneth Womack is the author of a two-volume biography on Beatles producer George Martin, the bestselling book "Solid State: The Story of Abbey Road and the End of the Beatles," and most recently "John Lennon, 1980: The Last Days in the Life."