Marshall Howard Crenshaw (born November 11, 1953) is an American musician, singer, songwriter, and guitarist best known for hit songs such as "Someday, Someway," a US Top 40 hit in 1982, and "Whenever You're on My Mind." His music has roots in classic soul music and Buddy Holly—the latter to whom Crenshaw was often compared in the early days of his career, and whom he portrayed in the 1987 film La Bamba.
Crenshaw performing in 1987
|Birth name||Marshall Howard Crenshaw|
|Born||November 11, 1953|
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
|Occupation(s)||Musician, singer, songwriter|
|Instruments||Vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards, drums, percussion|
|Labels||Warner Bros., Rhino, Razor and Tie, Red River, 429|
A quote from Trouser Press summed up Marshall Crenshaw's early career: "Although he was seen as a latter-day Buddy Holly at the outset, he soon proved too talented and original to be anyone but himself."
He began playing guitar at age ten. During and after High School he led the band Astigfa (an acronym for "a splendid time is guaranteed for all", a lyric from The Beatles' "Being For The Benefit of Mr. Kite"). He got his first break in 1978, playing John Lennon in the musical Beatlemania, first as an understudy in New York, then in the West Coast company, then in a national touring company. He left the show in February, 1980.
After launching a trio in New York (with his brother Robert on drums, and Chris Donato on bass), he recorded "Something's Gonna Happen", for Alan Betrock's Shake Records, after which he was signed to Warner Bros. Records. Robert Gordon took Crenshaw's "Someday, Someway" to #76 in 1981, and Crenshaw's own version made #36 the next year; it would be his only solo Billboard Top 40 'Pop' hit. On the Cash Box magazine chart the song fared slightly better, reaching #31. Its biggest reception was at AOR (Album Oriented Rock) radio, reaching #25 on Billboard's Rock Tracks chart.
Crenshaw's eponymous first album included the U.S. hit, "Someday, Someway". His second album, Field Day, was released in June 1983, sported a somewhat heavier sound, as evidenced on "Whenever You're on My Mind," that reportedly displeased a few listeners, but which is regarded by many critics as Crenshaw's best, and one of the classic power pop statements, although Crenshaw's work, somewhat like the late Alex Chilton's, transcends the genre. "Some of the stuff I've done you could call power pop," he told an interviewer, "but the term does have sort of a dodgy connotation." Although the song did not reach the Top 40 on Billboard's Pop Charts, "Whenever You're On My Mind" reached # 23 on Billboard's Rock Tracks chart.
In 1986, Crenshaw and his band made a feature appearance in Francis Ford Coppola's film, Peggy Sue Got Married. Later that same year Crenshaw portrayed Buddy Holly in La Bamba, and was featured on the soundtrack album. The album reached #1 in Billboard and was certified double-platinum.
In 1989, he compiled a collection of Capitol Records country performers of the 1950s and '60s called Hillbilly Music...Thank God, Vol. 1, which was extremely well received. In 1993, he made an appearance in the cult TV show The Adventures of Pete and Pete, in the role of a guitar-playing meter reader, and in 1994, he published a book, Hollywood Rock: A Guide to Rock 'n' Roll in the Movies.
He continued to record in the 1990s and 2000s. "Better Back Off", a song from the album Life's Too Short, reached # 17 on Billboard's Alternative Songs Chart. In 1999, Crenshaw released the critically acclaimed #447. In the 2000s, he played guitar as a special guest with the reunited members of the MC5. Crenshaw continued to perform at about 40-50 concerts a year, most of them within driving distance of his family home. Crenshaw himself has dubbed these shows part of "the NPR singer-songwriter circuit."
In 1996, Crenshaw co-wrote "Til I Hear It From You", with Jesse Valenzuela, and Robin Wilson of the Gin Blossoms, for the soundtrack of cult-film Empire Records. "Til I Hear It from You" began receiving radio airplay in August 1995, appearing that year on the Adult Contemporary chart in Billboard magazine - with a December peak of #5 - and also appearing on both the magazine's Album Rock Tracks and Modern Rock Tracks in with respective chart peaks of #4 and #5 in September. The track did not appear on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1995 or early 1996 due to the track not originally being available in a format then eligible for Hot 100 ranking. In Canada "Til I Hear It from You" reached #1 on the singles chart dated September 25, 1995, based on airplay: the track became Canada's longest-running #1 hit of 1995, its #1 tenure being six weeks.
Jaggedland, was released in June 2009 on his 429 Records. In 2011, Crenshaw began hosting a radio show called The Bottomless Pit on WFUV in New York, featuring his vast collection of recorded music.
On October 23, 2015 Crenshaw played at the Adler Theater in Davenport, Iowa, at a campaign event for Bernie Sanders, Democratic candidate for president, which also featured Wayne Kramer and numerous other performers.
In the summer of 2018, after the December 2017 death of Pat DiNizio, lead singer of the Smithereens, Crenshaw began performing with the group on an occasional basis, alternating with Robin Wilson of the Gin Blossoms and other guest lead vocalists in taking DiNizio's place in the band.
On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Marshall Crenshaw among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.
Many notable artists have recorded cover versions of Crenshaw's songs, including:
- "Brand New Lover" – covered by Lou Ann Barton
- "Communication" - covered by Ronnie Spector
- "For (Her) His Love" - covered by Ronnie Spector
- "Someday, Someway" - covered by Robert Gordon and S Club (then known as S Club 7)
- "Something's Gonna Happen" - covered by Robert Gordon and Ronnie Spector
- "Til I Hear It from You" - written with members of and performed by Gin Blossoms, as well as the group, America
- "Whatever Way the Wind Blows" - covered by Kelly Willis
- "Whenever You're on My Mind" - covered by Marti Jones and Ronnie Spector
- "You're My Favorite Waste of Time" - covered by Freedy Johnston, Bette Midler, Owen Paul, Ronnie Spector and Kevin Johnson and the Linemen, Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs
Owen Paul's version of this song was an International hit in 1986, peaking at No. 3 in the UK singles charts, Top 10 throughout Scandinavia, Top 20 in (West) Germany.
- Studio albums
- Marshall Crenshaw (1982) - US #50, SWE #42
- Field Day (1983) - US #52, SWE #49
- Downtown (1985) - US #110
- Mary Jean & 9 Others (1987)
- Good Evening (1989)
- Life's Too Short (1991)
- Miracle of Science (1996)
- #447 (1999)
- What's In The Bag? (2003)
- Jaggedland (2009)
- Vinyl reissues
- Field Day/US Remix EP - 2x vinyl reissue (10/2017)
- US Remix (1984)
- I Don't See You Laughing Now (2012)
- Stranger And Stranger (2013)
- Drivin' and Dreamin' (2013)
- Red Wine (2014)
- Move Now (2014)
- Grab the Next Train (2015)
- Live albums
- WRIF LIVE At Hart Plaza - Rare Detroit radio station Promo (vinyl only) - Performed "Soldier Of Love", an Arthur Alexander song
- Live …My Truck Is My Home (1994)
- I've Suffered For My Art…Now It's Your Turn (2001)
- Marshall Crenshaw: Greatest Hits Acoustic (2002 BMG Special Products)
- Live From the Stone Pony (2003) - Six song Bonus Audio Disc from the King Biscuit DVD of the same name
- Thank You, Rock Fans!! (2017, Run Out Groove) vinyl only of June 4, 1982 performance at the Keystone in San Francisco
- Compilation albums
- A Collection [Promo Only Release] (1991)
- The 9 Volt Years (1998)
- This Is Easy: The Best of Marshall Crenshaw (2000)
- 14 High Class Tunes (2001 Bug Music Promo)
- The Definitive Pop Collection (2006)
- #392: The EP Collection (2015)
|Year||Song||Peak chart positions||Album|
|Hot 100||Cash Box||Main Rock||Mod Rock|
|1981||"Something's Gonna Happen"||—||—||—||—||single only|
|1982||"Someday, Someway"||36||31||25||—||Marshall Crenshaw|
|"There She Goes Again"||—||—||—||—|
|1983||"Whenever You're on My Mind"||103||—||23||—||Field Day|
|1985||"Little Wild One (No. 5)"||—||—||—||—||Downtown|
|"Blues is King"||—||—||—||—|
|1986||"The Distance Between"||—||—||—||—|
|1987||"Mary Jean"||—||—||—||—||Mary Jean & 9 Others|
|"This Is Easy"||—||—||—||—|
|1989||"Some Hearts"||—||—||—||—||Good Evening|
|1991||"Better Back Off"||—||—||—||17||Life's Too Short|
- "In the News: MARSHALL CRENSHAW: Jaggedland". 429 Records. Archived from the original on December 1, 2017.
- Koda, Cub. "Marshall Crenshaw | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved June 17, 2010.
- Christgau, Robert. "Robert Christgau: CG: Marshall Crenshaw". Retrieved June 17, 2010.
- "Marshall Crenshaw ••• Top Songs as Writer ••• Music VF, US & UK hits charts". Musicvf.com. Retrieved May 5, 2015.
- Jim Catalano (1995). "Interview: Marshall Crenshaw". steamiron.com. Retrieved 2011-06-02.
- Colin Larkin, ed. (1997). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music (Concise ed.). Virgin Books. p. 319/20. ISBN 1-85227-745-9.
- Leopold, Todd (August 25, 2005). "Rock 'n' roll Renaissance man". CNN.
- Baker, Cary (December 3, 2007). "Marshall Crenshaw Writes Title Track for Walk Hard, a New Movie from Kasdan and Apatow". Modernguitars.com (Press release). Archived from the original on April 30, 2008. Retrieved May 5, 2015.
- "Michigan Rock and Roll Legends - MARSHALL CRENSHAW". Michiganrockandrolllegends.com. Retrieved October 14, 2019.
- Jordan, Chris. "Smithereens emerge from lonely place with Marshall Crenshaw on vocals REVIEW". App.com. Retrieved October 14, 2019.
- Rosen, Jody (June 25, 2019). "Here Are Hundreds More Artists Whose Tapes Were Destroyed in the UMG Fire". The New York Times. Retrieved June 28, 2019.
- "The Cover Project, "Marshall Crenshaw"". Coversproject.com. Retrieved October 14, 2019.
- "Marshall Crenshaw Discography at Discogs: Singles-EPs - Releases". Discogs.
- Whitburn, Joel (2008). Joel Whitburn Presents Rock Tracks 1981-2008. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research. p. 64. ISBN 9780898201741.