David Byrne (born May 14, 1952 in Dumbarton, Scotland) is a Grammy Award-, Academy Award-, and Golden Globe-winning musician, best known as a founding member and the principal songwriter of the New Wave band, Talking Heads. He lives in New York City.
When Byrne was two years old, his parents moved to Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, then to Arbutus, Maryland, when he was eight or nine years old. He graduated from Lansdowne High School in southwest Baltimore County. He then attended the Rhode Island School of Design for one year before dropping out and forming Talking Heads in 1974 with fellow RISD students Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth, later joined by Jerry Harrison. He also attended the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, Maryland, for one year.
During his time in the band, Byrne took on outside projects, collaborating with Briano Eno in 1981 on the album, My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, which attracted considerable critical acclaim and was an early use of sampling.
In 1981, Byrne partnered with choreographer Twyla Tharp, scoring “The Catherine Wheel”, a ballet prominently featuring unusual rhythms and lyrics. Productions of “The Catherine Wheel” appeared on Broadway that same year. In Spite of Wishing and Wanting is a soundscape David Byrne produced for the Belgian dance company, Ultima Vez.
His work has been extensively used in movie soundtracks, most notably in collaboration with Ryuichi Sakamoto and Cong Su on Bernardo Bertolucci's The Last Emperor, which won an Oscar for Best Original Score. In 2004, Lead Us Not into Temptation (music from the film, Young Adam) included tracks and musical experiments from his score to Young Adam. Byrne also directed and starred in True Stories, a musical collage of quirky Americana released in 1986, as well as directing the documentary, Ile Aiye, and the concert film of his 1992 Latin-tinged tour titled Between the Teeth. He was chiefly responsible for the stage design and choreography of Stop Making Sense in 1984.
Byrne wrote the Dirty Dozen Brass Band-inspired score for Robert Wilson's Opera, The Knee Plays from The CIVIL warS. Some of the music from Byrne’s orchestral album, The Forest, was originally used in a Wilson-directed theatre piece with the same name. The Forest premiered at the Theater der Freien Volksbuhne, Berlin in 1988. It received its New York premiere in December 1988 at BAM, the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The Foresty Maxi-single contained dance and industrial remixes of pieces from The Forest by Jack Dangers, Rudy Tambala, and Anthony Capel.
Byrne also appeared as a guest vocalist/guitarist for 10,000 Maniacs during their MTV Unplugged concert, though the songs in which he is featured were cut from its album. One of them, “Let the Mystery Be”, appeared as the fourth track on 10,000 Maniacs’ CD single “Few and Far Between”.
Byrne was the host of “Sessions at West 54th" during its second of three seasons.
Byrne founded Luaka Bop, a world music record label which releases the work of artists - Cornershop, Os Mutantes, Los De Abajo, Jim White, Zap Mama, Tom Ze and others.
Byrne is a renowned visual artist, and has shown his work in contemporary art galleries and museums around the world since the 1990s. He has also created a number of public art installations, many of them anonymous. He is represented by Pace/MacGill Gallery, NYC.
Here Lies Love (2010), a collaboration between the former Talking Heads leader and British Dance music maestro Fatboy Slim, is a song cycle - improbably poignant, decidedly surreal, surprisingly thought provoking - about the rise and fall of the Philippines’ notorious Imelda Marcos. It was conceived by David Byrne; composed by Byrne and Fatboy Slim and performed by a dream cast drawn from the worlds of Indie Rock, Alt Country, R&B and Pop. Byrne’s taste in collaborators is as imaginative as it is impeccable, including Cyndi Lauper, Steve Earle, Dap-Kings vocalist Sharon Jones, and Natalie Merchant. Along with vocals turns from such stars as Tori Amos and the B-52s Kate Pierson, Byrne works with rising indie rockers St. Vincent and My Brightest Diamond; New York chanteuses Nellie McKay and Martha Wainwright; and dance-music divas Roisin Murphy and Santigold.