Roland Orzabal

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Roland Orzabal
R orzabal.jpg
Orzabal in 2007
Background information
Born (1961-08-22) 22 August 1961 (age 60)
Portsmouth, Hampshire, England, United Kingdom
Origin Bath, Somerset, England, UK
  • Musician
  • singer
  • songwriter
  • record producer
  • author
  • Vocals
  • guitars
  • keyboards
Years active1979−present
Associated acts

Roland Orzabal (born 22 August 1961) is an English musician, singer-songwriter, record producer, and author. 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.


Early life

Orzabal was born in Portsmouth, Hampshire. [1] He was initially raised in nearby Havant [2] . His family later moved to Bath, where he attended Culverhay School and became a member of the Zenith Youth Theatre Company. [1]


Early career

Orzabal met Curt Smith while both were in their early teens in Bath, Somerset. In the late 1970s, they formed a mod music group, Graduate, along with three other members. Following the release of their debut album, Acting My Age, the group disbanded and Orzabal and Smith went on to form Tears for Fears, a new wave/synthpop outfit directly inspired by the writings of the American psychologist Arthur Janov. [3]

Solo work

Orzabal in 2019 Roland Orzabal European Tour 2019.jpg
Orzabal in 2019

After a decade of major international success, Orzabal and Smith acrimoniously split in the early 1990s. Orzabal continued to work as Tears for Fears after he and Smith parted ways; the subsequent albums Elemental  (1993) and Raoul and the Kings of Spain  (1995) are effectively solo works by him in all but name. Elemental was a success being certified as Gold status in the US and Silver in the UK, while Raoul took a more artistic direction but garnered less chart success. In 2001 he released his first proper solo album, Tomcats Screaming Outside , under his own name. [4] Orzabal and Smith had reconciled by that point and were working together on Tears for Fears's next album, Everybody Loves a Happy Ending  (2004).

Work as a producer/songwriter

As a songwriter, Orzabal is a two-time Ivor Novello Award winner. His first award was in 1986 for "Songwriter of the Year" following the release of Tears for Fears' second album Songs from the Big Chair for which Orzabal wrote or co-wrote all of the tracks. [5]

Orzabal and Smith were responsible for discovering pianist/vocalist Oleta Adams, whom they invited to collaborate on their 1989 album The Seeds of Love . Adams appeared on several tracks on the album, most notably the hit single "Woman in Chains", which she performed as a duet with Orzabal. [6] Orzabal then co-produced Adams' album Circle of One (1990). The album reached No. 1 in the UK and No. 20 in the US, and featured her transatlantic top ten hit "Get Here". Orzabal also co-wrote the lead track "Rhythm of Life" for the album, which was originally intended for The Seeds of Love . As well as playing guitar and singing backing vocals on the track, he also appeared in the song's accompanying promo video.

In 1999, Orzabal co-produced the Icelandic singer-songwriter Emiliana Torrini's album Love in the Time of Science , along with Tears for Fears associate Alan Griffiths. The pair also wrote two tracks for the album. [7]

Orzabal's talents as a songwriter were recognised again after Michael Andrews and Gary Jules recorded the song "Mad World" for the film soundtrack Donnie Darko in 2001. [8] Their version was released as a single in 2003 and became the Christmas number one single in the UK that year, ultimately becoming the year's biggest selling single. The song was originally composed by Orzabal and was Tears for Fears' first hit single in 1982. In 2004, the song won Orzabal his second Ivor Novello Award, as the songwriter of the Best Selling UK Single of 2003. [9]

Other activities


Orzabal has written a novel, a romantic comedy entitled Sex, Drugs & Opera, published in 2014. It tells the story of a middle-aged pop star, Solomon Capri, who is semi-retired but is approached to take part in the reality show Popstar to Operastar which he sees as a way to rejuvenate his career and his waning marriage. The story was inspired by Orzabal's own experience as he was approached by the ITV show himself, though did not take part. [10] [11]

Personal life

In 1985, Orzabal's difficult relationship with his father was parodied in a cartoon published in the UK tabloid The Sun . This cartoon was reproduced by the band on the artwork for the Tears for Fears single "I Believe". [1]

Orzabal married Caroline Johnston at Bath Register Office in 1982.[ citation needed ] Caroline can be heard singing the child vocal on the Tears for Fears song "Suffer the Children" from the band's debut album The Hurting, [12] and also drew the "hands" cover artwork for the 1983 re-release of "Pale Shelter".

In June 2017, Caroline died suddenly from natural causes. [13] Tears for Fears initially withdrew in July from the remaining shows on the North American tour they were co-headlining with Hall & Oates but resumed the tour on 14 September 2017, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. [14] On his doctor's advice, Orzabal withdrew from 2018 concert dates. He said "following the death of my wife, everything imaginable started to go wrong. You just don’t know how your body is going to respond." In 2019 he resumed touring. [13]


Solo albums

with Graduate

with Tears for Fears

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. Their follow-up album, The Tipping Point, is scheduled to be released in 2022.

<i>The Seeds of Love</i> 1989 studio album by Tears for Fears

The Seeds of Love is the third studio album by the British rock/pop band Tears for Fears, released on 25 September 1989.

<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.

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.

Curt Smith English musician

Curt Smith 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.

Oleta Adams American singer and pianist

Oleta Adams is an American singer and pianist. Adams found limited success during the early 1980s, before gaining fame via her contributions to Tears for Fears's international chart-topping album The Seeds of Love (1989). Her albums Circle of One (1991) and Evolution (1993) were top 10 hits in the UK; the former yielded a Grammy-nominated cover of Brenda Russell's "Get Here", which was a top 5 hit in both the UK and the US. Adams has been nominated for four total Grammy Awards, as well as two Soul Train Music Awards.

<i>Tomcats Screaming Outside</i> 2001 studio album by Roland Orzabal

Tomcats Screaming Outside is the first solo album from British musician Roland Orzabal of the group Tears for Fears, and was released on 2 April 2001. Although Orzabal had effectively made two solo albums under the Tears for Fears moniker in the 1990s, Elemental and Raoul and the Kings of Spain, this was the first recording to be released under his own name.

<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.

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>Circle of One</i> 1990 studio album by Oleta Adams

Circle of One is the third album by American vocalist, pianist, and songwriter Oleta Adams and was released in 1990. Circle of One was Adams' first album to receive wide distribution; her two earlier albums were self-financed and received only local distribution.

Woman in Chains 1989 single by Tears for Fears featuring Oleta Adams

"Woman in Chains" is a song by the English band Tears for Fears, released as the second single from their 1989 album The Seeds of Love. It has been described as a "feminist anthem".

Break It Down Again 1993 single by Tears for Fears

"Break It Down Again" is a song by British band Tears for Fears, released as the first single from their fourth studio album, Elemental (1993). The song was an international hit, reaching number 20 in the United Kingdom, number 25 in the United States, and the top 40 in several other countries. It topped the US Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart and was particularly successful in Canada and Iceland, reaching numbers four and two respectively. It is one of the band's later songs with the typical late 1980s sound, using synthesizers.

Raoul and the Kings of Spain (song) 1995 single by Tears for Fears

"Raoul and the Kings of Spain" is a song by the band Tears for Fears, released as the first single from their 1995 album of the same name. Upon its release, the single reached #31 in the UK and would be the band's last Top 40 hit there for ten years. The song also reached #39 in Belgium (Wallonia) and #26 in Poland.

Get Here

"Get Here" is a pop ballad written by American singer and songwriter Brenda Russell. The title track of her fourth studio album Get Here (1988), it became a moderate hit on the Billboard R&B chart on the heels of the album's massive first hit, "Piano in the Dark". American vocalist Oleta Adams recorded the song in 1990, making it a major international hit that reached the top 5 in both the US and the UK. Adams's version of "Get Here", co-produced by Roland Orzabal from the band Tears for Fears, became her signature song.

<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>The Very Best of Oleta Adams</i> 1996 greatest hits album by Oleta Adams

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The Escape (band)

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<i>Shout: The Very Best of Tears for Fears</i> 2001 compilation album by Tears for Fears

Shout: The Very Best of Tears for Fears is a 2001 compilation album released by the British band Tears for Fears. The album contains the greatest hits of the band from their first album, The Hurting, to the much later Elemental. The liner notes contain various photographs which were researched by Jason Pastori and coordinated by Ryan Null.

<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. 1 2 3 "All about Roland Orzabal". Tears for fears. Archived from the original on 18 January 2017. Retrieved 10 February 2013.
  2. The Newsroom (4 August 2016). "Live Life - the sofa will still be there when you get back". Portsmouth News. Lead Singer Roland Orzabal was born and raised in HavantCS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  3. "Biography of Tears for Fears". Poem Hunter. Retrieved 10 February 2013.
  4. Wilson, MacKenzie. "Tomcats Screaming Outside: AllMusic Review". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 3 May 2019. Retrieved 10 February 2013.
  5. "Songs From The Big Chair". Album Liner Notes. Retrieved 10 February 2013.
  6. Biography Oleta Adams. (Retrieved: September 15, 2006)
  7. "Love in the Time of Science". allmusic. Retrieved 10 February 2013.
  8. "Mad World (Alternate Version) Lyrics". ST Lyrics. Retrieved 10 February 2013.
  9. "Ivor Novello Awards 2004 (East Anglian Daily Times 24)". East Anglian Daily Times. Retrieved 28 September 2014.
  10. "Tears For Fears' Roland Orzabal Turns Author with the Release of Sex, Drugs & Opera". Contact Music. Retrieved 8 March 2014.
  11. Orzabal, Roland (2014). Sex, Drugs & Opera: There's Life After Rock 'n' Roll. London: Crucial 7th Publishing. ISBN   978-1909122710.
  12. "Tears for Fears " The Hurting"". Cool album review. Retrieved 10 February 2013.
  13. 1 2 "Roland Orzabal back to old self after wife's sudden death". AP NEWS. 18 February 2019. Retrieved 26 June 2020.
  14. "Daryl Hall & John Oates and Tears for Fears reschedule the Los Angeles and San Jose Shows" (PDF). Staples Center. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 May 2018. Retrieved 29 May 2018.