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Mike Curb (1944-)

Mike Curb is the owner of one of the most successful independent record labels in the history of the music business, as well as an artist, producer, songwriter, and philanthropist. Born in Savannah, Georgia, on December 24, 1944, he grew up in Los Angeles and started his first record label in 1964 when he was twenty-three years old.

Curb became president of MGM Records, where he signed and produced the Osmonds, Donny and Marie Osmond, Sammy Davis Jr., Roy Orbison, Kenny Rogers, Lou Rawls, the Sylvers, and numerous other acts. As leader of the Mike Curb Congregation, he performed weekly on “The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour” and had pop hits such as “Burning Bridges” (from the movie Kelly’s Heroes).

In 1978, after Curb left MGM, he was elected lieutenant governor of California and later spent approximately one year as acting governor. He then served as national finance chairman of the Republican Party during Ronald Reagan’s first presidential term. He remained active in the music industry during his political career and formed the Curb Warner Bros. record label, which yielded hits such as “You Light Up My Life” (Debby Boone), “Kiss You All Over” (Exile), and “Oh What a Night” (The Four Seasons).

In 1985, Curb moved back to Los Angeles from Washington and resumed his music career full time. In 1984, he had signed the Judds to his company; they were released on Curb/RCA in Nashville and became a top-selling act on that label. In 1992, Mike Curb moved to Nashville and relocated the headquarters of Curb Records to that city as he increasingly focused on country music and became a powerful influence within the Nashville music industry. During the 1990s, Curb Records signed Tim McGraw, LeAnn Rimes, JoDee Messina, Wynonna, Sawyer Brown, and Hal Ketchum to the label. He had a long-term recording relationship with Hank Williams Jr. (he originally signed Hank Jr. to MGM in 1966) and has been involved in contemporary Christian music as well as soundtracks, releasing the Coyote Ugly and Evan Almighty soundtracks on his label.

Curb has written over four hundred songs, produced twenty-five gold- or platinum-selling albums, and was named Producer of the Year by Billboard in 1972. In 2001, Curb Records was named the Country Music Label of the Year by the leading music trade magazines. Curb Records has had over 250 number-one records, covering most all of the genres of the music industry.

Curb established the Mike Curb Family Foundation in Nashville and contributed generously to a number of causes. His major focus has been on music education, and his foundation is responsible for the establishment of the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise, and Public Policy at Vanderbilt University, as well as the Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business at Belmont University, the Curb/Beaman Fisk Jubilee Chair, the Curb Youth Symphony, the Beaman/Curb Conference Center for the Boy Scouts, the Patriot Theater at Fort Campbell, and the Curb Institute at Rhodes College in Memphis. In addition, the Mike Curb Family Foundation owns and supports such historic recording studios as RCA Studio B and the Quonset Hut.

Mike Curb and his wife, Linda, have two daughters, Megan and Courtney. In 2007, Curb was named Nashvillian of the Year and received his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Published » December 30, 2009