Mike Curb, California's former lieutenant governor and acting governor, is one of the most prominent figures in the entertainment world and presides over his own independent record label, one of the largest in the nation that has launched the careers of numerous stars. During a distinguished career spanning more than 45 years, Curb has earned multi-faceted success as a songwriter, producer and record company owner, covering a wide range of musical styles. As an individual, he has written more than 400 songs, and received countless music industry awards, including the prestigious Overall Producer of the Year Award from Billboard magazine in 1972. As the founder and Chairman of Curb Records, Curb's company has produced more than 300 No. 1 records and been honored by Billboard magazine as 2001 Country Music Label of the Year and Radio & Records magazine as 2005 Overall Gold Label of the Year. Curb also serves as Chairman of the Mike Curb Family Foundation and Chairman of gospel music powerhouse Word Entertainment, which was Billboard magazine's Overall Top Imprint in that genre for 2006 and 2007. Recently Curb was honored as Nashvillian of the Year and received a star on the Music City Walk of Fame. He has also been honored with a star on the historic Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Starting as a student at Grant High School in California's San Fernando Valley in the late 1950s, Curb began performing with his own bands and formed a vocal group, the Mike Curb Congregation. The group achieved worldwide success with many singles and albums including "Burning Bridges," "Put Your Hand In The Hand," and "Softly Whispering I Love You." The Congregation also was seen on national television every week on the Glen Campbell Variety Show on CBS, and recorded No. 1 hit records including "The Candy Man" with Sammy Davis Jr. and "All For The Love Of Sunshine" with Hank Williams Jr., the singer's first No. 1 single, which also was co-written by Curb.
During his long career, Curb's own writing credits include songs for Roy Orbison, Sammy Davis Jr., Hank Williams Jr., The Osmond Brothers, Donny & Marie Osmond, Freddie Jackson, Irene Cara, Bobby Vinton, Andy Williams, Wayne Newton, Anne Murray, Al Martino, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, Mae West, The Crickets, The Hondells, The Ventures, Steve Holy, Eddy Arnold, T.G. Sheppard and Solomon Burke. Particular Curb writing highlights include "It Was a Good Time" (a signature song for Liza Minnelli) and Curb composing the theme song for Dick Clark's "American Bandstand" show.
Some of Curb's other early success came in composing and producing songs and soundtracks for movies, including the 1966 hit "Wild Angels" staring Peter Fonda and Nancy Sinatra, the music for the 1967 Billy Jack movie "The Born Losers," and "Burning Bridges," the theme for the 1970 Clint Eastwood movie "Kelly's Heroes." In all, Curb has composed or supervised music for more than 50 motion picture soundtracks in films featuring Frank Sinatra, Jimmy Stewart, George C. Scott, Jack Nicholson, John Cassavetes, Ernest Borgnine, Mickey Rooney, Ryan O'Neal, Bette Davis, Jennifer Lopez, Gwyneth Paltrow, Mike Myers, Cliff Robertson, George Kennedy and others. Recently Curb Records has had success with soundtracks such as "Coyote Ugly", Sylvester Stallone's "Driven", Reese Witherspoon's "Legally Blonde 2", and the recent #1 box office hit "Evan Almighty" starring Steve Carell and Morgan Freeman.
In the 1960s, Curb's record label became an important part of the West Coast rock 'n' roll music scene, releasing early recordings by such artists as The Arrows (featuring Davie Allan), The Stone Ponies (featuring Linda Ronstadt), and The Electric Flag (featuring Mike Bloomfield and Buddy Miles). In 1969, Curb merged his company with MGM Records and became president of the MGM Co. He boosted MGM's standing with such hits as "Spill the Wine" by Eric Burdon and War, "One Bad Apple" by The Osmonds, "Natural Man" by Lou Rawls, "The Candy Man" by Sammy Davis Jr. and the Mike Curb Congregation, "I'm Leaving It All Up to You" by Donny and Marie Osmond, and Donny Osmond's worldwide signature song "Puppy Love," which Curb also produced. During this time, Curb also signed Kenny Rogers and the First Edition, Hank Williams Jr., Don Gibson, Mel Tillis, Billy Walker, Ray Stevens and Eddy Arnold.
After MGM was sold in 1974, Curb went on to build Curb Records and the Curb/Warner label, which released numerous top-selling singles from the mid-to-late 1970s. Within a short time, the company had five No. 1 records on the Billboard Chart including the Four Seasons' "December 1963 (Oh What A Night)," The Bellamy Brothers' "Let Your Love Flow," Shaun Cassidy's "Da Doo Ron Ron," Exile's "Kiss You All Over," and Debby Boone's "You Light Up My Life" (the biggest selling record of the decade).
During the 1970s, Curb also began venturing into public service. In 1976, he served as co-chair of the Ronald Reagan California Campaign for President and later was co-chair of President Gerald Ford's California campaign. In November 1978, Curb was elected California's lieutenant governor, the same year that Democrat Jerry Brown was elected governor. During his 1979 to 1983 term, Curb served as acting governor for about one year, guiding the state during disastrous floods, fires and a threatened prison guard strike. He also served on the University of California Board of Regents and the California State University Board of Trustees. Curb also served as President of the California State Senate and Chairman of the Economic Development Commission.
In 1982, Curb was elected chair of the National Conference of Lieutenant Governors. Then in 1983 and 1984, at President Reagan's request, Curb served as Chairman of the National Finance Committee during the president's re-election campaign, responsible for raising more than $100 million.
After his stint in government, Curb returned to California and, together with then-Curb Records President Richard W. Whitehouse, went on to sign such emerging stars as Lyle Lovett, The Judds, Don and Phil Everly (The Everly Brothers), Sawyer Brown, Chris Hillman's Desert Rose Band and The Righteous Brothers. The latter gave Curb Records the platinum-selling album and single "Unchained Melody."
Curb has also been active for most of his adult life in motorsports. Curb cars driven by stars such as Dale Earnhardt, Richard Petty and others have competed for more than 30 years in the NASCAR circuit and in other major motor sports events including the Indianapolis 500. One highlight was the Curb-owned racing team scoring a victory at the famed Daytona International Speedway in 1984. In 2006, Curb was inducted into the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame.
Meanwhile, Curb Records' successes have continued. In 1997, Curb Records was Billboard's No. 1 country label in four major categories for albums and singles, and the No. 1 country label, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Among the label's top hits was "How Do I Live" by LeAnn Rimes, which was co-produced by Curb and written by fellow California State alum Diane Warren. The song earned Curb a Billboard award for the longest-running record in the history of the Billboard pop chart. He also received a Billboard award for co-producing Rimes' "You Light Up My Life," the only album ever to debut No. 1 on Billboard's Pop Chart, Country Chart and Contemporary Christian Chart.
Curb's current roster of exclusive recording artists includes Wynonna Judd, Tim McGraw, LeAnn Rimes, Hank Williams Jr., The Judds, Lyle Lovett, Jo Dee Messina, Sawyer Brown, Clay Walker, Steve Holy, Hal Ketchum, Ray Stevens, Lee Brice, Kimberley Locke, Rodney Atkins, Michael English, Ronnie and Tyler McDowell, Heidi Newfield, Natalie Grant, Fernando Ortega, Plumb, and Selah.
Although often associated with country and gospel performers, Curb also has an enduring love of rhythm and blues music dating to his childhood living in the South Los Angeles/Compton area. Through the years, Curb also has signed such artists as Sammy Davis Jr., Lou Rawls, Gloria Gaynor, Richie Havens, Solomon Burke, the Sylvers, Richard Roundtree ("Shaft"), the Hues Corporation and the Fisk Jubilee Singers. Continuing that tradition, Curb Records has had major, recent hits with "Over and Over," a duet between Tim McGraw and the rapper Nelly, and Curb has recently co-produced five number one Billboard recordings for "American Idol" finalist Kimberley Locke.
In addition to his record business, Curb serves as chair of the Mike Curb Family Foundation, which supports music education and works to restore historic music industry locations. The Curb Foundation owns Elvis Presley's former home in Memphis and RCA Studio B, Columbia Studio A, the Quonset Hut, and the Johnny Cash Museum in Nashville. Curb has served on the governing boards of the Recording Industry Association of America, the Dole Food Company, the worldwide board of the USO, the ACM, CMA and CMF (Country Music Hall of Fame). Curb is an honorary member of the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame, and he also has been inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame and the National Business Hall of Fame.
In addition to the education and historic preservation projects, the Curb Foundation is also involved in many community projects such as the Curb Family Welcome Center at Second Harvest Food Bank, the Curb Music Education Center at the Schermerhorn Nashville Symphony, the Band Instrument Program for the Nashville Alliance for Public Education, The Children's Theatre at The Nashville Library, The Annual March of Dimes Benefit, Downtown Nashville's Rocketown Building Project, the Curb Family Education Center at the Oasis Center, the Curb Center for Free Enterprise at Junior Achievement, the Curb Family Pediatric Rehabilitation Clinic at Children's Hospital, The Curb Youth Symphony at Blair School of Music, the Patriots Theatre at Fort Campbell Air Force Base, the Beaman/Curb Boy Scout Conference Center, the Curb Conservatory at the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Nashville Chamber Public Benefit Foundation leading Nashville's war against homelessness and poverty.
Curb is the recipient of an honorary Doctor of Law degree from Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree from Rhodes College, an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from California State University and an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree from Belmont University in Nashville. The Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business is the largest college at Belmont University. The Mike Curb College of Art, Media and Communication is one of the largest colleges at California State University. The Curb College of Arts, Music and Science is also one of the largest colleges at Daytona State College. Curb also has endowed the Curb Institute for Music at Rhodes College at Memphis, Curb Creative Campus, and the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise, and Public Policy at Vanderbilt University, and serves on the governing board of Nashville's Fisk University, one of the nation's pioneering historically black institutions. Curb was recently honored by Belmont University as Trustee Emeritus and Belmont's Curb Event Center recently hosted the historic Presidential Debate between John McCain and Barack Obama.
Curb's father Charles was an FBI agent. Curb is married to the former Linda Dunphy, daughter of famed Southern California television news anchor Jerry Dunphy. Curb and his wife have two adult daughters, Megan Carole and Courtney. They have two grandchildren Catie and Brandon. Curb has been honored as Father of the Year by the National Father's Day Council. In 2006, he received the lifetime achievement award at the annual Los Angeles Music Awards. Recently Curb was honored as Nashvillian of the Year and received a star on the Music City Walk of Fame. He was also honored with a star on the historic Hollywood Walk of Fame.