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 which has launched the careers of numerous stars and is considered to be the oldest record company in the nation still being operated by its founder. During a distinguished career spanning over five decades, 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 300 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 achieved more than 300 No. 1 records and has 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 and 2015 Mediabase CRS Gold Label of the Year. Curb also serves as Chairman of the Mike Curb Family Foundation and Chairman/Owner of gospel music powerhouse Word Entertainment, which was Billboard magazine's Overall Top Imprint in that genre for 2006. In 2007 Curb was honored as Nashvillian of the Year and he received his star on Nashville's Music City Walk of Fame. Curb has also received his star on the historic Hollywood Walk of Fame the same year that President Donald Trump received his star. In 2011 Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam appointed Curb Chairman of the Board of the Tennessee Film Entertainment and Music Commission. In 2015 Curb was honored with the 40th annual Historic Achievement Award from the Metropolitan Historical Commission for his numerous acts of preservation, including 10 buildings on Nashville's historic Music Row that Curb has purchased.
Curb supports programs for homeless and the underserved communities, music education and works to restore historic music industry locations. The Curb Foundation owns and has restored Elvis Presley's former home in Memphis and RCA Studio A, RCA Studio B, Columbia Studio A, the Quonset Hut, and the Johnny Cash Collection in Nashville including restoring the historic buildings on Nashville's famous Music Row which were home to RCA Records, Columbia Records, Decca Records and Capitol Records. Curb has served on the governing boards of the Recording Industry Association of America, the Dole Food Company, and the worldwide board of the USO, the ACM, CMA and CMF (Country Music Hall of Fame) and was honored by the Grammy Museum where the Mike Curb Gallery is located. The Mike Curb Memphis Hall of Fame is located at the Rock 'N' Soul Museum and Curb is part of the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame, and he also has been inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame, the National Business Hall of Fame and in 2014 was inducted into the Musician's Hall of Fame.
Curb is the recipient of an honorary Doctor of Law degree from Pepperdine University in California, an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree from Rhodes College, an Honorary Doctorate from Fisk University, 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 Arts, Media and Communication is one of the largest colleges at California State University and UCLA is home to the Mike Curb Music and Technology Lab at the Evelyn and Mo Ostin Center. The Curb College of Music Entertainment and Art is an important part of Daytona State College and Curb has also endowed the Curb Institute for Music Business, Entertainment and Sports at Bethune-Cookman University in Florida, the Curb Institute in Kannapolis, North Carolina, the Curb Institute for Music at Rhodes College at Memphis, the Curb Learning Lab at Baylor University in Texas, the Junior Achievement Centers in Los Angeles & Nashville, the Beaman/Curb Boy Scout Conference Center, the Curb Center at Second Harvest Food Bank, the Curb Music Center at the Nashville Symphony, The Patriots Theatre at Ft. Campbell, the Curb Center at the San Antonio Humane Society, the Victory Room at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in California, the Curb Media Center at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute in Washington DC, the Curb Theatre at the Nashville Library, the Fisk University Jubilee Singers Program, education studios at Honolulu State College, the Business and Law Professorship at the Claremont McKenna College in Los Angeles and the Curb Institute for Advanced Medical Care involving St. Thomas Hospitals (Nashville), Universities of Tennessee, Texas (Austin-Seton Hospitals) and Indianapolis (Marian University) - St. Francis Hospitals, the Curb Family Pediatric Center at Vanderbilt, the Curb Creative Campus, and the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise, and Public Policy at Vanderbilt University and the Curb Creative Enterprise and Public Leadership programs at the Herberger and McCain Institutes at Arizona State University. Curb serves on the governing board of Nashville's Fisk University, one of the nation's pioneering historically black institutions, where Curb served as Chairperson for the 150th Sesquicentennial Celebration. Curb serves as Trustee Emeriti for Belmont University and Belmont's Curb Event Center hosted the historic Presidential Debate between Senator John McCain and President Barack Obama.
As a songwriter, Curb has received BMI Awards in both the pop and country categories. In addition to his film compositions, Curb's own songwriting credits include songs for Roy Orbison, Sammy Davis 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, Fat Joe and the Terror Squad, Steve Holy, Pat and Debby Boone, Clint Eastwood, Eddy Arnold, T.G. Sheppard, Robbie Williams and Solomon Burke. Other Curb writing highlights include "It Was A Good Time" (the signature song for Liza Minnelli's Emmy Award winning "Liza With A 'Z'") and Curb also composed the theme song for Dick Clark's "American Bandstand" show and Hank Williams Jr.'s first No. 1 recording "All For The Love Of Sunshine". Also, Curb shared in the copyright of "You Light Up My Life" that won a Grammy and an Academy Award.
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. Some of Curb's other early success came in composing songs and soundtracks for movies, including the hit "Wild Angels" starring Peter Fonda and Nancy Sinatra (which included the hit song "Blues Theme"), the music for the Billy Jack movie "The Born Losers," and three Curb-composed songs that were Academy Award finalists including "Burning Bridges," the theme for the Clint Eastwood movie "Kelly's Heroes," "Chilly Winds" by The Osmond Brothers from the movie All The Pretty Maids In A Row and the theme from Frank Sinatra's Dirty Dingus Magee. In all, Curb has composed music for more than 50 motion picture soundtracks in films featuring Frank Sinatra, George C. Scott, John Cassavetes, Ernest Borgnine, Dennis Hopper, Ryan O'Neal, Bette Davis, Telly Savalas, Jennifer Lopez, Gwyneth Paltrow, Mike Myers, Bruce Dern, Cliff Robertson, Rock Hudson, George Kennedy and others. Curb supervised the music for the Jimmy Stewart/Mickey Rooney film "Lassie" for Disney and released the soundtrack albums for the Jack Nicholson/Bruce Dern film "Psych Out" and the Peter Fonda film "The Trip," written by Jack Nicholson and featuring the music of The Electric Flag. Curb's production company with Michael Lloyd produced the hit singles from the motion picture "Dirty Dancing" including the Academy Award winning song "(I've Had) The Time Of My Life" and partnered with Al Bell and Stax Records on the soundtrack for "Shaft" featuring Isaac Hayes' Academy Award winning song. Recently Curb Records has had success with soundtracks such as "Coyote Ugly", Sylvester Stallone's "Driven", Reese Witherspoon's "Legally Blonde 2" and the No. 1 box office hit "Evan Almighty" starring Steve Carell and Morgan Freeman.
Meanwhile, Curb Records' successes have continued into this century. In 2001, Curb Records was Billboard's No. 1 country label of the year. 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 of the century according to Billboard. 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. "You Light Up My Life" won a Grammy and an Academy Award and Curb shared in the copyright. Curb has had over 100 ASCAP, BMI and SESAC award-winning songs, including Garth Brooks' recording of "More Than A Memory" which was the first record to ever debut No. 1 on the Billboard Country Chart. "She Never Lets It Go To Her Heart" by Tim McGraw reached the No. 1 position on Billboard and Rodney Atkins song "Watching You" was recently named Record of the Decade by Mediabase. Also, "Three Wooden Crosses" by Randy Travis became the CMA Song of the Year and "I Don't Dance" by Lee Brice became the ACM Record of the Year in 2015 at the 50th anniversary of the ACM Awards.
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., "All For The Love Of Sunshine" with Hank Williams Jr., the singer's first No. 1 single and Curb made the only hit recording of "It's A Small Small World".
Curb's early success also led to a long collaboration with the Walt Disney Company. Michael D. Eisner, former Disney CEO, and ABC television executive commissioned Curb to compose and produce theme music for three ABC animated TV series, including "Hot Wheels" and "The Cattanooga Cats". The Mike Curb Congregation recorded "Walt Disney's Greatest Hits," an album for Disney featuring contemporary versions of Disney classics that included Curb's Top 10 Billboard hit rendition of "It's A Small World." Curb supervised the soundtrack for Disney's "Lassie" movie. In recent years, Curb Records also released the multi-platinum soundtrack album for Disney's movie "Coyote Ugly," featuring four LeAnn Rimes songs.
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 Poneys (featuring Linda Ronstadt) and The Electric Flag (featuring Mike Bloomfield and Buddy Miles) and was partnered with Jim Guercio in the early recordings of Chicago. 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., The Sylvers, Jim Stafford, Don Gibson, Mel Tillis, The Ovations, The Five Man Electrical Band, Billy Walker, Johnny Bristol, Gloria Gaynor, Ray Stevens, Richie Havens, Solomon Burke and Eddy Arnold.
Curb also served as president of Verve Records, the historic jazz label, and scored a coup by signing superstar Tony Bennett. While at Verve, Curb worked with musicians such as Jimmy Smith, Stan Getz, Chet Baker and Wes Montgomery. Curb also created the Verve "Golden Archive" series, preserving classic recordings from Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Count Basie, Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Charlie Parker, George Benson, Herbie Hancock and Louis Armstrong.
After MGM and Verve were 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). Together with then-Curb Records President Richard W. Whitehouse, Curb signed such emerging stars as Lyle Lovett, The Judds, Don and Phil Everly (The Everly Brothers), Sawyer Brown, Chris Hillman's Desert Rose Band, Jeffrey Steele's band Boy Howdy, Ronnie McDowell, Hal Ketchum and The Righteous Brothers which gave Curb Records the multi-platinum-selling album and single "Unchained Melody."
In recent years, Curb's roster of exclusive recording artists has included Wynonna Judd, Tim McGraw, LeAnn Rimes, Lyle Lovett, Jo Dee Messina, Clay Walker, Steve Holy, Tim Dugger, Kimberley Locke, Mo Pitney, Ruth Collins, Rodney Atkins, Jesse Kinch, Jerrod Niemann, Love & Theft, Andreas Moss, Jackson Michelson, Ashley Gearing, Larry Gordon, Rachel Holder, Dylan Scott, American Young and Lee Brice, whose recording of "I Drive Your Truck" was the CMA and ACM Song Of The Year and his #1 single "I Don't Dance" was certified double platinum and his album debuted at #1 on the Billboard chart. Recently, both Lee Brice and Natalie Grant received multiple Grammy nominations and for King & Country won a Grammy for their album which included the film theme and hit single "Priceless."
Curb Records has continued to play a major role in the contemporary Christian genre with artists such as Selah, Michael English, Jamie Slocum, MIKESCHAIR, Nicol Sponberg, No Other Name, Ryan Corn, OBB, Plumb and Natalie Grant, who received five Gospel Music Association Dove Awards as Female Vocalist of the Year. In addition to the recordings of his own group (the Mike Curb Congregation), Curb has been involved in the contemporary Christian music business since its inception. Curb signed early contemporary Christian artists such as Larry Norman, 2nd Chapter of Acts, DeGarmo and Key, The Boone Girls and Debby Boone, whose recording of "You Light Up My Life" is considered to be the first contemporary Christian hit single and the biggest record of the 1970s based on Billboard chart activity. Since that time Curb has had success with contemporary Christian artists such as Stryper, Whiteheart, Patty Cabrera, Jonathan Pierce, Fernando Ortega, and MercyMe, whose recording of "I Can Only Imagine" became one of the biggest Christian cross-over hits of all time. In 2002 Mike became a partner and Chairman of Word Records, the oldest gospel recording company in America and the label that the Mike Curb Congregation had recorded for early in its career. In 2016 Curb completed the purchase of Word. Curb has worked closely with CEO Jim Van Hook and currently with CEO Rod Riley the company has had success with Francesca Battistelli, 2010 Gospel Music Association's Female Vocalist of the Year, Group1 Crew, Remedy Drive, Nicole C. Mullen, Building 429, Stellar Kart, Point of Grace, Big Daddy Weave, BarlowGirl, Salvador, Sidewalk Prophets, Pocket Full of Rocks, Steven Malcolm, Sarah Reeves, Castro, Chris August, Mark Schultz, For King and Country, Love & The Outcome, Family Force 5, We Are Messengers, Stars Go Dim, Blanca, About A Mile and Randy Travis, whose recording of "Three Wooden Crosses", published by Curb Publishing, became a major cross-over hit.
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, Richie Havens, Solomon Burke, the Sylvers, Richard Roundtree ("Shaft"), the Hues Corporation, the Fisk Jubilee Singers, and Gloria Gaynor, whose recording of "Never Can Say Goodbye" was the first No. 1 dance record on the Billboard Dance Chart. In 1973, the Incredible Bongo Band had its first single "Bongo Rock", which was the first record used to create the break to break hip hop sound. Then in 1975, the Incredible Bongo Band's recording of "Apache" became the Bronx national anthem when Kool Herc began using it as an early hip hop recording. Continuing that tradition in recent years, Curb was the co-writer of "Yeah Yeah Yeah" which was recorded by rap artist Fat Joe and The Terror Squad and became a Billboard R&B chart single from their #1 Billboard album and Curb Records has had major 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.
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. Curb received a presidential appointment to the United States Trade Negotiations Committee and the USO Board. In recent years, Curb has received an appointment to the Tennessee Gubernatorial Economic Board and Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam appointed Curb to be Chairman of the Tennessee Film Entertainment and Music Commission.
In 1980, Curb served as the national Co-Chairman of President Reagan's successful presidential campaign and Chairman of the convention program in Detroit. 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. In honor of his mentor, Curb played a major role in the Reagan Centennial by sponsoring the rebuilding of the Victory Room at the Ronald Reagan Museum and Library in California. Curb also became a member of the President's counsel at the George W. Bush Library and Museum in Dallas Texas.
Curb has also been active for most of his adult life in motorsports. Curb cars have been driven by stars such as Dale Earnhardt, Richard Petty, Greg Biffle, Dale Jarrett, Johnny Sauter, Dan Wheldon, Alexander Rossi, Justin Wilson, Donny Schatz, Kyle Larson, Bryan Clauson, Christopher Bell, Rico Abreu and others who have competed for more than 40 years in the NASCAR circuit or in other major motorsports events including winning the Indianapolis 500 and winning at Daytona International Speedway. Curb has won over 500 races in 40 different motorsports series and has won over 25 championships and finished top 10 in championship point standings 150 times.
Curb's victories include the 10 domestic NASCAR/IMSA owned series [Sprint Cup, Xfinity, Camping World Trucks, United SportsCar, Grand-Am Daytona Prototype, IMSA GT, K&N East, K&N West, the Whelen Modified, Southern Modified and the Whelen All-American Late Model Series victory at the 2013 inaugural Daytona Battle at the Beach]. The Curb-owned racing team scored a major victory at the famed Daytona International Speedway in 1984, which was Richard Petty's historic 200th victory, with President Ronald Reagan in attendance. Dale Earnhardt won his first championship in the Curb Productions car and recently Curb had his 500th NASCAR start in Nashville, Tennessee with ten-time winner Johnny Sauter who won the 2013 Daytona NASCAR truck race. Curb also co-owned the winning car in the historic 2011 Centennial Indianapolis 500 with driver Dan Wheldon and co-owned the winning car in the 2016 historic 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 with driver Alexander Rossi and was the co-winner of the 2012 50th anniversary Daytona 24 hour Rolex sports car race. In 2013 Curb won the NASCAR K&N East Championship with Dylan Kwasniewski and the 2013 World of Outlaws Championship with Daryn Pittman in association with Kasey Kahne. The Curb-Agajanian Racing Team has won 12 USAC National Championships including being the only Owner/Entrant to win all 3 USAC National Championships in the same year. In 2013 the Curb-Agajanian team repeated as the Triple Crown Champions with Christopher Bell in association with Keith Kunz in the USAC Midget cars, with Bryan Clauson and Bobby East repeating as winners of the USAC Sprint car and Silver Crown Championships in association with Tony Stewart. In 2014 Curb-Agajanian won two more USAC National championships with Rico Abreu and Kyle O'Gara, the Badger championship with Christopher Bell, the American Sprint Car Series (ASCS) championship with Jason Johnson, the IMSA GT3 Lone Star Le Mans in Austin, Texas with Michael Lewis and victories in NASCAR with Johnny Sauter, Bobby Santos, and the Modified All-Star Shootout with Ryan Newman. In 2015 the Curb-Agajanian team won the historic Knoxville Nationals and the World of Outlaws National Championships in 2015 and 2016 with Donny Schatz in association with Tony Stewart, and in 2015 and 2016 won the historic Chili Bowl with Rico Abreu and in 2017 won the Chili Bowl with Christopher Bell. Curb has also been inducted into the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame and inducted in 2016 to the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame on its' 50th anniversary. In 2017, Curb received the Living Legends of Auto Racing Award in Daytona.
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 six grandchildren Catie, Brandon, Ethan and Connor Michael Cox and Caroline and Carter Curb Childress. 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. Curb was honored as Nashvillian of the Year and he received his star on Nashville's Music City Walk of Fame. Curb has also received his star on the historic Hollywood Walk of Fame.