Curt Smith

Last updated

Curt Smith
Curt Smith 08 2.jpg
Smith in 2008
Background information
Born (1961-06-24) 24 June 1961 (age 60)
Origin Bath, Somerset, England
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • musician
  • record producer
  • actor
  • Vocals
  • bass guitar
  • keyboards
  • guitar
Years active1978–present
  • KOOK Media
  • Zerodisc
  • Mercury
Associated acts

Curt Smith (born 24 June 1961) is an English singer, songwriter, musician, record producer, and co-founding member of the pop rock band Tears for Fears along with childhood friend Roland Orzabal. Smith played the bass guitar, co-wrote several of the band's songs, and sang lead vocals on the hits "Mad World", "Pale Shelter", "Change", "The Way You Are", "Everybody Wants to Rule the World", and "Advice for the Young at Heart". Smith possesses a tenor singing voice.


After his departure from Tears for Fears in 1991, Smith pursued a solo career and released his debut album Soul on Board in 1993. In total, he has released five studio albums and one EP, and has also dabbled in acting. He reunited with Orzabal, as Tears for Fears, in 2000.

Musical groups


Smith met Roland Orzabal when both were teenagers. They first formed a band in their teens, for which Smith taught himself to play bass guitar. They next formed the ska influenced band Graduate, [1] who released their only album in 1980 achieving minor success in Europe. Around this time, Smith and Orzabal also became session musicians for the band Neon. Fellow band members included Pete Byrne and Rob Fisher who went on to become the duo Naked Eyes.

Tears for Fears

After Graduate and Neon disbanded, Smith and Orzabal founded Tears for Fears in 1981. Their debut album, 1983's The Hurting , reached no.1 in the UK and produced three international hit singles – "Mad World", "Change", and "Pale Shelter" – each with lead vocals performed by Smith.

Their 1985 album Songs from the Big Chair was even more successful, yielding hits including "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" (with Smith again on lead vocals), "Shout," and "Head Over Heels" (which Smith co-wrote).

The duo spent the next several years recording their 1989 album The Seeds of Love, which proved to be another international best-seller. Smith's last single as a lead vocalist with the group (and his only lead vocal track on the album) was "Advice for the Young at Heart". Following another world tour, increasing tensions between him and Orzabal prompted Smith to leave the band in 1991, and he moved to New York.

In 2000, routine legal paperwork obligations led to Orzabal and Smith's first conversation in nearly a decade. [2] The two patched up their differences and, along with Smith's associate Charlton Pettus, began writing a new album – Everybody Loves a Happy Ending – released in 2004. Prior to this, "Mad World" was covered by Michael Andrews and Gary Jules for the soundtrack of the film Donnie Darko . It was released as a single and reached no.1 in the UK during Christmas 2003. The single re-ignited interest in the group's earlier work and their 1992 Greatest Hits album was re-released and re-entered the UK Top 10 for several weeks, garnering its second UK platinum disc.

Solo albums

Soul on Board

After leaving Tears for Fears, Smith released his first solo album, Soul on Board , in 1993. The album was unsuccessful in the UK, and was not released at all in the U.S. Smith later claimed that he made the album purely to fulfil his record contract with Mercury/Phonogram.

Mayfield and Aeroplane

After moving to New York, Smith formed the band Mayfield with guitarist-producer Charlton Pettus and which also featured Russ Irwin & Doug Petty on keyboards, Smith himself on bass and vocals and finally Shawn Pelton on drums. According to Smith, the name of the band was a play on words (Curt is Mayfield) based on the name of the legendary American soul singer Curtis Mayfield. The band was mostly a live act but did release a self-titled album in 1998, which met with little success.

Smith later released the album Aeroplane under his own name. In the U.S., this was a six-track EP, but in Canada and elsewhere, it was essentially the earlier Mayfield album combined with additional songs from the U.S. EP.

In October 2011, Smith announced on his website that he would re-release the Mayfield album on 15 November 2011. [3] The new release, on his KOOK Media label, would include a bonus version of the song "Trees" featuring Janice Whaley.

Halfway, Pleased

Smith in 2008 Curt Smith 08.jpg
Smith in 2008

During 2000, Smith began work on what was to become Halfway, Pleased, but the project was put on hold when he re-established contact with Roland Orzabal again after almost a decade of silence. Their conversations culminated in Tears for Fears reforming for 2004's Everybody Loves a Happy Ending which led to a worldwide tour, so it wasn't until 2006 that Smith resumed work on Halfway, Pleased. The semi-autobiographical album explores Smith's relationships with his children, parents and friends.

In April 2007, French record label XIII Bis Records released Halfway, Pleased in France. Its 14 tracks included the original version of "Who You Are" (which was recorded by Tears for Fears on Everybody Loves a Happy Ending); a live version of "Snow Hill" from the 2005 Tears for Fears UK tour; the single version of "Seven of Sundays" (also recorded as a duet with French singer SO); and a cover of "On Ira Tous au Paradis" (also available on A Tribute to Polnareff). Two music videos were made for "Seven of Sundays" – one as a solo track, and one as the duet with SO.

All the songs except "Seven of Sundays" were co-written by Smith and Charlton Pettus. The solo version of "Seven of Sundays" was co-written by Pettus and Chesney Hawkes; Smith and Sophie Saillet helped adapt the song for the duet version.

Smith finally released the album in the U.S. and the rest of the world in May 2008 via his own KOOK Media label. [4] The KOOK release features a slightly different track listing, eliminating the Polnareff tribute and adding two new acoustic tracks ("Coming Out" and "Seven of Sundays"). It was released under a Creative Commons license [5] which allows fans to distribute, perform and use the songs so long as the uses are non-commercial and attributed to Smith.

Smith has made limited live concert appearances in the Los Angeles area to support Halfway, pleased. In January 2009, he announced that he will perform a weekly residency at The Standard Hollywood in West Hollywood, CA during the month of February 2009. [6] He announced in mid-February that The Standard had asked him to extend through March 2009 and he agreed. He played a similar residency there in October 2008.

Deceptively Heavy

Smith's fourth solo album was released on 16 July 2013. [7]

"The Social Media Project"

In January 2010, Smith released the standalone single "All Is Love" (featuring Zoë Keating), the first track in what he says will be an album-length project of collaborations with artists he meets via social media. [8] Smith met Keating, an avant-garde cellist, via Twitter. The second track in the series, "Perfectly...Still (featuring Universal Hall Pass)" was released in August 2010. [9] A fan of Smith's suggested the collaboration via Twitter; Smith contacted UHP (aka Melissa R. Kaplan) via the MySpace service. As of January 2012, Smith's site lacks any specific details but claims "More tracks coming in 2011!".


Smith occasionally collaborates with other artists. He worked with the French singer So (Sophie Saillet) providing vocals on her track "Les Autres", and the pair worked together again on Smith's track "Seven of Sundays" (Saillet also appeared in both videos for the song). Smith is also featured on The Shadow Bureau's 2011 track "Don't Give Yourself Away" with artist Linda Strawberry, [10] inspired by the 2010 Australian film Griff the Invisible . In May 2011, Smith tweeted that he was working on a track with JunkieXL [11] which features on JXL's album Synthesized. He also recorded a vocal track for the American punk band American Eyes on their song entitled "The Day We Died" on their album Never Trust Anything That Bleeds.


Smith and longtime collaborator Charlton Pettus composed and recorded the score for the 2011 film Meth Head, starring Lukas Haas, [12] and the 2015 film Gravy. [13]

Smith contributed an original song, "This Is Christmas", to an episode of the fifth season of the USA Network series Psych . [14]

Stripped Down Live With Curt Smith

In August 2010, Smith debuted a live music web series, "Stripped Down Live With Curt Smith", [15] which he produced along with his manager Arlene Wszalek and Streamin' Garage CEO Mike Rotman. Each episode was devoted to a single featured artist. The band or musician played acoustic versions of their songs (the show was streamed live via UStream); Smith interviewed them between sets, as well as took viewer questions via Skype and the show's chat room. Smith's guests included Hypnogaja, Carina Round, Chris Pierce, Peter Himmelman, Common Rotation, Gary Jules, All Day Sucker, The Daylights, Matthew Sweet, The Fallen Stars, Nightmare & The Cat, Whiskey Saints, Fitz and the Tantrums and Friendly Indians. In January 2011, Smith stated that he will not do another season of the series.

Other activities

In 1988, Smith appeared at the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute performing "Everybody Wants to Rule the World", with accompanying musicians Phil Collins, Midge Ure, and Mark Brzezicki on stage. [16]

In 1989, Smith appeared on stage with various other performers at Stevie Wonder's birthday concert at London's Wembley Arena.

Smith is an avid user and advocate of social media. [8] Since 2008, he has been asked to speak at a variety of social media, technology and creative conferences, including 140TC, [17] the Creative Commons Los Angeles Salon, [18] the 2010 ITV Fest, [19] TEDxHollywood, [20] and TEDxSF. [21] He has also guest-lectured at the USC Annenberg School's graduate Online Communities program. [22]

Smith has also tried his hand at acting. He had a minor role as a desk clerk in The Dead Connection (1994), and a more significant role as a professor in 2000's The Private Public. [23] Smith made a surprise appearance to open Psych's 2010 Comic Con panel, [24] where he sang onstage with Psych co-stars James Roday and Dulé Hill. Roday's character Shawn Spencer makes several proclamations throughout the series about his admiration for Tears for Fears, especially Smith. He then appeared, as himself, in the "Psych" episode "Shawn 2.0", [25] an episode for which he also wrote a variation of the opening theme. His single "This is Christmas" later appeared in the episode "The Polarizing Express". [26] He again appeared as himself in the show's 100th episode, "100 Clues", in March 2013. [27] He also appeared in the episode "A Nightmare on State Street" as himself. [28]

In May 2009, Smith performed at the Artist for the Arts Foundation benefit at Barnum Hall, Santa Monica High School, Santa Monica, California. Performing live, alongside Colin Hay (Men at Work), Fee Waybill (The Tubes) & Venice (Crazy on You) and over 70 members of the Santa Monica High School (SaMoHi) Orchestra and Girls Choir, the benefit helped to provide funds for the continuation of Music Education in public schools.[ citation needed ]

In September 2016, Smith and his drummer Jamie Wollam appeared in the "Orchard" with Ted Yoder to accompany him on a re-recording of his popular rendition of Everybody Wants to Rule the World played on the hammered dulcimer. [29]

Personal life

Smith grew up in Bath, Somerset in England, and lived on the Snow Hill council estate (subject of the track "Snow Hill"). He attended the Beechen Cliff School.

Smith has been married twice. His first wife was Lynda "Lynne" Altman, whom he married in 1982. They divorced in 1988, and he then began a relationship with marketing executive Laura "Frances" Pennington. They married in 1996 and now live in Los Angeles with their two daughters, Diva and Wilder, born in 1999 and 2001. [30] Smith became a naturalised U.S. citizen in 2007. He is a supporter of Manchester United and LAFC. [31]

In April 2020 while staying home under general quarantine orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Smith and his daughter Diva performed an acoustic guitar rendition of "Mad World" in the style of the 2001 Donnie Darko soundtrack. [32] [33]



See also

Related Research Articles

Tears for Fears English pop rock band

Tears for Fears are an English pop rock band formed in Bath, England, in 1981 by Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith. Founded after the dissolution of their first band, the mod-influenced Graduate, Tears for Fears were initially associated with the new wave synthesizer bands of the early 1980s. Later, the band branched out into more mainstream pop and attained international chart success. Tears for Fears were part of the MTV-driven Second British Invasion of the US.

<i>Everybody Loves a Happy Ending</i> 2004 studio album by Tears for Fears

Everybody Loves a Happy Ending is the sixth studio album by the English rock band Tears for Fears, released on 14 September 2004 in the US, and 7 March 2005 in the UK and Europe. It was released nine years after the previous Tears for Fears studio album, Raoul and the Kings of Spain (1995), and was the first album featuring Curt Smith since 1989's The Seeds of Love.

<i>Elemental</i> (Tears for Fears album) 1993 studio album by Tears for Fears

Elemental is the fourth studio album by the British pop band Tears for Fears. It was released on 7 June 1993 and includes the hit single "Break It Down Again". The album peaked at No. 5 in the UK and No. 45 in the US. It also reached the Top 10 in France and Italy, the Top 20 in Canada and the Top 30 in several European countries. It has been certified Silver in the UK, and Gold in the US and France.

<i>Songs from the Big Chair</i> 1985 studio album by Tears for Fears

Songs from the Big Chair is the second studio album by English pop rock band Tears for Fears, released on 25 February 1985 by Phonogram Records. The album peaked at number two in the UK and at number one in the US and Canada, becoming a multi-platinum seller in all three countries. It also reached number one in Germany and the Netherlands and the top 10 in various other countries including Australia, New Zealand and Switzerland. It spawned the commercially successful singles "Mothers Talk", "Shout", "Everybody Wants to Rule the World", "Head over Heels", and "I Believe". It remains their best-selling album to date.

<i>The Hurting</i> 1983 studio album by Tears for Fears

The Hurting is the debut studio album by British new wave band Tears for Fears, released on 7 March 1983. The album peaked at No. 1 on the UK Albums Chart in its second week of release, and was certified Gold by the BPI within three weeks of release. It reached Platinum status in January 1985. The album also entered the Top 40 in several other countries including Canada, Germany and Australia.

Mad World 1982 single by Tears for Fears

"Mad World" is a 1982 song by the British band Tears for Fears. Written by Roland Orzabal and sung by bassist Curt Smith, it was the band's third single release and first chart hit, reaching number three on the UK Singles Chart in November 1982. Both "Mad World" and its B-side, "Ideas as Opiates", appeared on the band's debut LP The Hurting (1983). This single was also the band's first international success, reaching the Top 40 in several countries in 1982–83.

Roland Orzabal English musician, singer-songwriter, and record producer

Roland Orzabal is an English musician, singer-songwriter, and record producer. He is best known as a co-founder of Tears for Fears, of which he is the main songwriter and joint vocalist, but he has also achieved success as a producer of other artists such as Oleta Adams. In 2014, Orzabal published his first novel.

Everybody Wants to Rule the World 1985 single by Tears for Fears

"Everybody Wants to Rule the World" is a song by English pop rock band Tears for Fears. It was written by Roland Orzabal, Ian Stanley, and Chris Hughes and produced by Hughes. The song was first released on 18 March 1985 by Phonogram, Mercury, and Vertigo Records as the third single from the band's second album, Songs from the Big Chair (1985). "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" is a new wave and synth-pop song with lyrics that detail the desire humans have for control and power and centre on themes of corruption.

<i>Raoul and the Kings of Spain</i> 1995 studio album by Tears for Fears

Raoul and the Kings of Spain is the fifth studio album by the British pop-rock band Tears for Fears, released on 10 October 1995. Like the band's previous album, Elemental (1993), it is essentially a solo effort by Roland Orzabal—neither album being made with the involvement of Curt Smith who had left the band by that time.

Shout (Tears for Fears song) Single by Tears for Fears

"Shout" is a song by English pop/rock band Tears for Fears, released as the second single from their second studio album, Songs from the Big Chair (1985), on 19 November 1984. Roland Orzabal performs lead vocals on the track. The single became the group's sixth UK top 40 hit, peaking at No. 4 in January 1985. In the US, it reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 on 3 August 1985 and remained there for three weeks. "Shout" would become one of the most successful songs of 1985, eventually reaching number 1 in multiple countries. It is regarded as one of the most recognizable songs from the mid-eighties, and is recognized by Chris True of AllMusic as a "Tears for Fears signature moment".

Tears for Fears discography Cataloguing of published recordings by Tears for Fears

The English pop rock band Tears for Fears have released six studio albums, along with numerous singles, compilations and videos. Formed in 1981 by Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith, the duo signed to Phonogram Records in the UK and released their first single the same year. It was not until Tears for Fears' third single, "Mad World" (1982), that they scored their first hit, and their platinum-selling debut album The Hurting (1983) was a UK number one.

<i>Tears Roll Down (Greatest Hits 82–92)</i> Compilation album by Tears for Fears

Tears Roll Down is a greatest hits album by the English pop/rock band Tears for Fears. It was released on 2 March 1992 by Fontana Records. Preceded by the single "Laid So Low ", the album contains the band's UK and international top-20 singles. It has been certified double platinum in the United Kingdom, platinum in the United States, and gold in several other countries including Canada, France and Germany.

Suffer the Children (song) Song by Tears for Fears

"Suffer the Children" is a song by the British band Tears for Fears. Written and sung by Roland Orzabal and released in November 1981, it was the band's first release, recorded shortly after the break-up of Orzabal and Curt Smith's previous band Graduate. The original single was produced by David Lord and recorded at his own facility, Crescent Studios in Bath, England. The song would eventually be re-recorded for inclusion on Tears for Fears' debut LP The Hurting (1983), this time produced by Chris Hughes and Ross Cullum.

Pale Shelter 1982 single by Tears for Fears

"Pale Shelter" is a song by the British band Tears for Fears.

<i>Aeroplane</i> (album) 1999 studio album by Curt Smith

Aeroplane was the second solo album released by Curt Smith, member of the British pop band Tears for Fears.

<i>Secret World Live in Paris</i> 2006 live album by Tears for Fears

Secret World – Live in Paris is a live album by the British Pop rock band Tears for Fears, released on 27 February 2006 by the French record label XIII Bis.

Halfway, pleased is the third solo album by British pop musician Curt Smith, co-founder of Tears for Fears. It was released on 20 May 2008.

Michael Wainwright (musician) Musical artist

Michael Wainwright is a singer-songwriter from Canada. He has released two albums, The Circus Is Coming To Town and Wainwright. He is the background vocalist and opening act for Tears For Fears.

<i>Going to California</i> (Tears for Fears video)

Going to California is a concert performance video by the British group Tears for Fears. Released in 1990, it is a recording of the band's show at the Santa Barbara County Bowl in May 1990 during their "Seeds of Love" World Tour.

<i>Rule the World: The Greatest Hits</i> 2017 greatest hits album by Tears for Fears

Rule the World: The Greatest Hits is a greatest hits album by English pop/rock band Tears for Fears, released in 2017 by Virgin EMI Records. The compilation contains fourteen top 40 singles, taken from each of the band's first six studio albums, and two new songs: "Stay" and "I Love You but I'm Lost". The latter was released as a digital single on 13 October 2017.


  1. Stephen Thomas Erlewine. "Tears for Fears – Music Biography, Credits and Discography". AllMusic.
  2. Tears for Fears – iTunes interview. 2004.
  3. "Mayfield".
  4. Katie Hasty (14 March 2008). "Tears for Fears' Smith Goes 'Halfway' Solo". Billboard .
  5. "Curt Smith Releases "Halfway, Pleased"". Creative Commons. 22 May 2008.
  6. "Curt Smith/Tears for Fears - Interview part 1 (Creative Commons)". YouTube. 10 March 2009.
  7. "iTunes Preview - Deceptively Heavy - Curt Smith". iTunes. 16 July 2013.
  8. 1 2 Barb Dybwad (23 February 2010). "Tears for Fears' Curt Smith Talks Twitter and Solo Career [INTERVIEW]". Mashable.
  9. "New Music: Curt Smith of Tears For Fears". 5 August 2010.
  10. "Voice of Gaia: Strawberry".
  11. "Taking time off from movie to do JunkieXL track. It's sounding pretty weird and wonderful :)". Twitter. 18 May 2011.
  12. Jeff Benjamin (26 October 2011). "Watch Tears For Fears's Curt Smith's Video Q&A On Scoring 'Meth Head,' Making Music Today @ Billboard Film & TV Music Conf". Billboard .
  13. "Gravy (2015)".
  14. "This Is Christmas, by Curt Smith".
  15. Liz Shannon (20 July 2010). "Tears for Fears' Curt Smith To Host Stripped Down Live – Tech News and Analysis".
  16. "Tears for Fears (Live 88) – Everybody wants to rule the world" on YouTube
  17. "Twitter users have first conference | Metro News". 23 September 2009.
  18. "CC Salon LA (6/26/08): Curt Smith and Monk Turner Discuss CC/Music". Creative Commons. 19 June 2008.
  19. "Curt Smith - Biography". CD Baby.
  20. "TEDxHollywood 2010". 5 June 2010.
  21. "TEDxSF - Curt Smith".
  22. "Thanks to @curtsmith for coming out to USC tonight! The whole class learned so much!". Twitter. 19 January 2011.
  23. "Curt Smith The Private Public (2000)". YouTube. 12 February 2008.
  24. "Comic-Con 2010: Psych ("Shout" - with Curt Smith!)". YouTube. 22 July 2010.
  25. "Curt Smith Talks 'Psych' Episode 5.08 'Shawn 2.0'". MovieWeb.
  26. Joseph Dilworth Jr. (15 December 2010). "Psych TV Series - Curt Smith – This is Christmas". Archived from the original on 17 August 2013. Retrieved 2 February 2016.
  27. Heather Donmoyer (27 March 2013). "'Psych' Season 7, Episode 5 Review – Tears and Fears and 100 Clues".
  28. Russ Burlingame (20 March 2014). "A Nightmare on State Street".
  29. "Curt Smith of Tears for Fears and Ted Yoder". YouTube. 28 September 2016.
  30. "Curt Smith – Tears for Fears, 80's pop, British, band, music, new wave, singer, songwriter, Curt Smith". Lipstick Tracez. Archived from the original on 7 January 2014.
  31. "Curt Smith". Twitter.
  32. "Watch Tears For Fears' Curt Smith Perform "Mad World" With His Daughter".
  33. Schatz, Lake (6 April 2020). "Watch Tears for Fears' Curt Smith and Daughter Perform "Mad World"". Consequence of Sound . Retrieved 25 May 2020.