Mike Curb, California's former lieutenant 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 40 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, produced 25 gold or platinum-selling records, and received countless music industry awards, including the prestigious 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 250 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 is Billboard magazine's Overall Top Imprint in that genre for 2006.
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. In later years, the group achieved worldwide success with many 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.
Before those highlights, Curb began his rise to commercial success in the music industry while a student at California State University. It was on that San Fernando Valley campus in fall 1962 and spring/summer 1963 that Curb composed and recorded some of his earliest songs in the university's music building studios, and where he formed his first record company, a predecessor to Curb Records. His commercial breakthrough came the next year when Honda selected one of those songs, the Curb-penned "You Meet the Nicest People on a Honda (Go Little Honda)" for its national motorcycle advertising campaign. The success and attention garnered by that song opened the doors for the many successes that were to come.
During his long career, Curb's own writing credits include songs for Roy Orbison, Hank Williams Jr., The Osmond Brothers, Donny & Marie Osmond, Bobby Vinton, Wayne Newton, Anne Murray, The Crickets, Steve Holy, Eddy Arnold and T.G. Sheppard.
Some of Curb's other early success came in composing and producing songs and soundtracks for movies, including the 1966 hit "Killer's Three" starring Dick Clark and Merle Haggard (which included Merle Haggard's classic hit "Mama Tried"), The Wild Angels ("Blues Theme"), the music for the 1967 Billy Jack movie "The Born Losers," and "Burning Bridges," (BMI award-winning song composed by Curb) 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.
In the 1960s, Curb's record label and production company became an early part of the West Coast country music scene, releasing recordings by such artists as The Stone Ponies (featuring Linda Ronstadt), Kay Adams, Dick Curless, Ernie Ford, Mary Ford, Terry Stafford and Jerry Naylor (of The Crickets). During this time, Curb received his first BMI publishing award for the song "Big In Vegas" by Buck Owens and Curb received his first BMI songwriter award for co-writing "All For The Love Of Sunshine" by Hank Williams, Jr., which became Hank's first number one record on Billboard. In 1969, Curb merged his company with MGM Records and became president of the MGM Co. In addition to writing and co-producing Hank Williams, Jr., Curb signed Mel Tillis, who quickly had a number one record with "I Ain't Never". Curb also signed or co-produced hit recordings by Billy Walker, Eddy Arnold, Tompall And The Glaser Brothers, Sammy Davis, Jr., Ray Stevens, Kenny Rogers, The Osmond Brothers, Solomon Burke, Donny and Marie Osmond, Don Gibson, The Sylvers, Jeannie C. Riley, and Roy Orbison.
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 seven No. 1 records on the Billboard Chart including The Bellamy Brothers' "Let Your Love Flow," T.G. Sheppard's "Last Cheater's Waltz", The Four Seasons' "Oh What A Night", Shaun Cassidy's "Da Do Ron Ron", Exile's "Kiss You All Over," Hank Williams Jr.'s "All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight", and Debby Boone's "You Light Up My Life" (the biggest selling record of the decade). During this period, Curb also had hits with Jim Stafford, Bobbie Gentry, Phil and Don Everly, Margo Smith, Lois Johnson, the Righteous Bros., Billy Burnette, The Hagar Twins, Tommy Roe, Bobby Goldsboro, The Burrito Brothers, The Whites, Gene Watson, Ronnie McDowell and Moe Bandy.
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, a Republican, 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.
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 Republican 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, Delbert McClinton, Sawyer Brown, and Chris Hillman's Desert Rose Band.
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 25 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.
In the early 1990s, after spending 30 years writing, producing and releasing country music while based in California, Curb and his family moved to Nashville, Tennessee. During the 1990s Curb's companies had major hit recordings, starting with Hal Ketchum ("Small Town Saturday Night" - R&R's #1 record of the year in 1991), Wynonna (Wynonna's 5 times platinum album featuring "I Saw The Light" - Billboard's #1 single of the year in 1992), Boy Howdy, featuring Jeffrey Steele ("She'd Give Anything"), Sawyer Brown ("Some Girls Do" - Billboard #1), Perfect Stranger ("You Have The Right To Remain Silent"), Jeff Carson ("Not On Your Love" - Billboard #1), Junior Brown ("Highway Patrol" - CMA award winner), and two video albums by Ray Stevens (multi-platinum video "Comedy Video Classics" which was Billboard's #1 video of the year in 1993 and "Live" which was Billboard's #1 video in 1994).
Meanwhile, Curb Records' successes have continued. In the mid-90s, Tim McGraw's record of "Indian Outlaw" became a hit and launched the career of an artist who has sold over 30 million albums, including 23 Billboard #1 singles and 10 consecutive Billboard #1 albums. In 1996, Curb Records signed LeAnn Rimes, whose album "Blue" debuted #1 and sold over 6 million albums. 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.
Also, in 1997, Lyle Lovett received a Grammy for "Road To Ensenada", and in 1998, David Kersh had his biggest hit with "If I Never Stop Loving You". By 1999, Jo Dee Messina became the first female artist to have three consecutive multiple week #1 records ("Bye Bye", "I'm Alright" and "Stand Beside Me").
Curb started the new century with a multi-platinum "Coyote Ugly" soundtrack that stayed #1 on the Billboard Country Album Chart for 10 weeks. In 2001, Curb Records became the first independent label to become Billboard Label Of The Year, breaking a 10-year record held by MCA.
Curb Records has continued to develop new artists, including Steve Holy (two #1 records- "Good Morning Beautiful" and "Brand New Girlfriend" in 2003 and 2006, respectively) and Rodney Atkins whose recording of "If You're Going Through Hell" was the number one record of the year in both Billboard and R&R magazines for the entire year of 2006. Atkins started 2007 with the multi-week number one recording "Watching You", which was the 100th award-winning song by Curb Publishing. In addition, Sonny James, who has had a long relationship with Curb Publishing, is being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2007.
Curb's current roster of exclusive recording artists includes Wynonna Judd, Tim McGraw, LeAnn Rimes, Hank Williams Jr., Hank Williams III, Lyle Lovett, Jo Dee Messina, Clay Walker, Steve Holy, Hal Ketchum, Trini Triggs, Cledus T. Judd, Blue County, Kimberley Locke, Rodney Atkins, Lee Brice, Natalie Grant and Selah.
In the arena of gospel music, Curb in 2003 was named Chairman of Word Entertainment after the industry's oldest gospel music label was acquired by Curb and Warner Bros. The Curb-Warner Bros. venture extended a 40-year relationship that began in 1963 when the newly merged Reprise/Warner Records signed Curb, then an 18-year-old California State University student, and his song "Hot Dawg" became the first single released by the new label.
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. Those include 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 also serves on governing boards of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the Country Music Foundation (Country Music Hall of Fame). He also has been inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame and the National Business Hall of Fame.
Curb is the recipient of an Honorary Doctor of Law degree from Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., and an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree from Belmont University in Nashville. The Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business, which he supports, 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. Curb also has endowed the Curb Institute for Music at Rhodes College at Memphis, 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'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. 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, and in 2007 Curb received the award for Nashvillian of The Year and also received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.