Richard Marx: Far From 'Gone'

When Richard Marx first heard his current single on the radio, it wasn't so much the song itself that excited him. It's what the DJ said afterward.

When Richard Marx first heard his current single on the radio, it wasn't so much the song itself that excited him. It's what the DJ said afterward.

"He says, 'That was "When You're Gone" by Richard Marx. Now, here's Nickelback with "Feelin' Way Too Damn Good,"'" Marx recalls.

"Do you get that? Nickelback followed my song -- not Bette Midler's 'Wind Beneath My Wings.'"

It's true. Marx had been condemned to middle-of-the-road purgatory for the better part of a decade, despite his 1987 debut as a pop rocker with such hits as "Don't Mean Nothing" and "Satisfied."

But he was typecast in the early 1990s by sweeping ballads like "Hold On to the Nights" and "Now and Forever."

With "When You're Gone," Marx is re-establishing himself somewhat. He further fuels the fire with his eighth studio album, "My Own Best Enemy," issued Aug. 10 on Manhattan/EMI in the United States. Release in Japan, Hong Kong and the United Kingdom will follow in September.

The 12-song disc features more guitars than keyboards, with a musical mélange of confessional songs that has more hooks than a fishing boat.

In addition to "When You're Gone," which features a scorching guitar solo from Keith Urban, standouts include "Nothin' Left to Say," a gritty rocker about a hamstrung love affair; the optimistic pop frolic "Love Goes On"; and the inspirational ballad-and likely second single-"Ready to Fly."

"I didn't want my last chapter to be the guy who sits at the piano and sings love songs," Marx says. "This album covers the full range of my influences," from country and soul to rock and pop.

Bruce Lundvall, president/CEO of EMI Jazz & Classics, signed Marx to the newly reactivated Manhattan Records last year when the artist was left in no-man's land by every label he approached.

"I got rejected by everybody; no one would touch me," Marx says. "Bruce goes by what he thinks is good and of musical value. He cares about serving the vision of his artists, which is so hard to find."

In fact, Lundvall originally signed Marx to Manhattan/EMI in the 1980s, and they remained in touch after Marx moved to Capitol in 1991.

"It has been a joy," Lundvall says of the reunion. "Richard is working his ass off, singing and writing and looking better than he ever has."

Marx brings to the table years of experience working as a producer and songwriter for a stupefying range of acts, from 'N Sync and Barbra Streisand to Josh Groban, Vince Gill, Chris Botti and Hugh Jackman.

He also co-wrote "Dance With My Father" with Luther Vandross. The pair won the Grammy Award for song of the year in February for the sentimental testimonial.

"I've had so much fun the past six or seven years," Marx says -- though the Grammy win was bittersweet at best, following Vandross' devastating stroke in April 2003.

An active player again, Marx is being seen on a host of television segments, including Larry King, "Access Hollywood," E!, "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," CMT, "Live With Regis & Kelly" and "The View."

He has also put together a new band (anchored by Vertical Horizon's Matt Scannell on guitar) and is touring this summer, with hopes of launching a more substantial outing later in the year.

"In the past, there has always been so much pressure about carrying a show and promoting a record," Marx says. "I'm now so keenly aware that I have everything to prove and nothing to lose.

"Even if the record is really successful, it's not going to change my future as a producer; if it means recording another record, great. But I'm just having fun playing and giving Botox injections to the older songs. There's no downer, it's just really a blast."

Excerpted from the Aug. 14, 2004, issue of Billboard. The full original text is available to subscribers.

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