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 Home is where I want to be
Home is where I want to be
Jerry Harrison Bio PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 03 June 2008 15:28

Jerry HarrisonJeremiah Griffin Harrison was born on 21 February 1949 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He has a long history of playing in bands, beginning at High School in Milwaukee with a group called The Walkers. Jerry graduated and moved east to attend Harvard University. There he formed a band called Albatross, in September 1967. They were all students and did some original numbers, through mostly they relied on Steve Miller and Jimi Herdrix songs. The band, with Ernie Brooks playing bass, lasted two years, playing at parties and college dances in the Boston/Cambridge area. It folded in May 1969, when college broke up for the summer, but singer Jim Mahoney and Ernie Brooks went on to form Catfish Black with a number of other musicians. This band lasted from July '69 to July '70.

The next move was for Ernie Brooks and Jerry Harrison to re-unite, which they did in September 1970, to form a band called The Eagles. They lasted two months, finally splitting in November 1970. Still in the Boston area, Jerry and Ernie ran into a guy named Jonathan Richman at a party and Richman began a lengthy campaign for them to join a band with him. It was to be called The Modern Lovers.

In the spring of 1972, they found themselves out in Los Angeles recording a demo for Warner Brothers with John Cale producing it. After a number of legal complexities, this set of demos was released in 1976 on Beserkley records, long after Jerry had left the Modern Lovers. Towards the end of Jerry's stint with the band, he decided to pick up the guitar "because I got frustrated with Johnathan's playing". In the end, Jonathan was getting too crazy for the band and the original line-up of The Modern Lovers broke up in March 1974, having survived for exactly 3 years. Jerry returned to Boston from LA and got a job teaching at Harvard.

Upon the dissolution of The Modern Lovers, Harrison joined up with songwriter Elliott Murphy for the album Night Lights (1976) and its associated tour; brief tenures with a handful of other bands followed, but ultimately he chose to resume his study of architecture at Harvard. His schooling was soon interrupted a second time by an invitation to join Talking Heads, and after completing one more semester Harrison was lured, once and for all, into the life of a professional musician. By the time of his membership, the trio configuration of Talking Heads had already established themselves on the New York City club circuit and released the single Love Goes to a Building on Fire on Sire Records; but it was as a four-piece that the band's popularity expanded to an international scale, particularly with the release of their debut full-length Talking Heads: 77 and the single Psycho Killer. 

It wasn't till April 1976 that Jerry first saw Talking Heads play at a concert in Boston. He was impressed: "I saw something in them and I knew straight away. I saw what the group needed: me !". The first time Jerry played with the band was in September 1976, at the lower Manhattan Ocean Club.


During a break from band activity in 1981, Harrison recorded his first solo effort The Red and the Black, an album which featured contributions from guitarist Adrian Belew, former P-Funk keyboardist Bernie Worrell and vocalist Nona Hendryx (all participants in the expanded Heads line-up that had recorded Remain in Light). The release was not given as much attention as his bandmate's extra-curricular projects (David Byrne's Catherine Wheel score and his Brian Eno collaboration My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth's album as Tom Tom Club), and it would be six years before the appearance of his second solo album Casual Gods (1987).

The interim between the two was primarily filled by his work on three further studio albums and two film projects with Talking Heads, although 5 Minutes -- a one-off recording with Bernie Worrell and Bootsy Collins working under the name Bonzo Goes to Washington -- was issued in 1984. During this period Harrison also launched a parallel career as a record producer, helming sessions for The Blind Leading the Naked by The Violent Femmes, Milwaukee by Elliott Murphy, and producing several tracks for the Jonathan Demme film Something Wild (all three of which took place between 1985 and 1986).

After the release of the Talking Heads' final album Naked in 1988, the focus of Jerry Harrison's activities shifted to his production work (although a third solo album Walking on Water and its associated tour were realized in 1990). In the 90s his credits (and industry standing) as a producer grew to considerable proportions through involvement with platinum-selling releases by acts such as Live, Crash Test Dummies, The Verve Pipe, and Kenny Wayne Shepherd. His extensive resume also included albums by Poi Dog Pondering (Volo Volo, 1991), Black 47 (Home of the Brave, 1994), Fatima Mansions (Lost in the Former West, 1995), Rusted Root (Remember, 1996) and Bijou Phillips (I'd Rather Eat Glass, 1999).

A short-lived musicial reunion with Frantz and Weymouth came about in 1996 when the three formed The Heads, a project originally intended as a Talking Heads reunion and then altered when Byrne refused to participate; consequently, the group's sole album No Talking, Just Head made use of several replacement vocalists ranging from Debbie Harry to Andy Partridge. A proper reunion of the full band did eventually take place (although only for a single evening) on the occasion of their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002. Harrision has since continued to concentrate on his career as a producer for other artists, in addition to maintaining his role as Chairman of the Board for (an internet music resource he co-founded in 1999).



  • With The Modern Lovers 'The Original Modern Lovers' (LP) (on Mohawk records) 
  • With The Modern Lovers 'The Modern Lovers' (LP & CD) (on Bersekley records) 
  • With The Modern Lovers 4-track bootleg 7" on blue vinyl with early demo's 
  • With The Modern Lovers on compilation 'The Best Of Jonathan Richman and The Modern Lovers'. 
  • With Bernie Worrell & others as The Escalators. Made a 4-track EP called 'The Escalators'. 
  • With Bernie Worrell & Bootsy Collins as Bonzo Goes To Washington. Made the anti-Reagan-rap 'Five Minutes' on 12" vinyl 
  • Guest musician on Elliot Murphy's 12" 'Texas' 
  • With the New York All Stars on the benifit album and single 'Downtown' 
  • Guest musician and background singer on Bernie Worrell's album 'Funk Of Ages' 
  • Producer of the BoDeans album 'Outside Looking In' 
  • Producer of the Fine Young Cannibals track 'Ever Fallen In Love' 
  • Producer of It's Immaterial's single 'Driving Away From Home' (uncreditted) 
  • Producer of Psychefunkapuss' album 'Skin' 
  • Producer of Semi Twang's album 'Salty Tears' 
  • Producer of Violent Femmes' album 'The Blind Leading The Naked'. 
  • Producer of the Crash Test Dummies album 'And God Shuffled His Feet' 
  • Producer of Live's EP 'Four Songs' 
  • Producer of Live's album 'Mental Jewelry' 
  • Producer of Live's album 'Throwing Copper' 
  • Producer of Live's album 'The Distance to Here' 
  • Producer of General Public's album 'Rub It Better' 
  • Producer of Neurotic Outsiders' album 'Neurotic Outsiders' 
  • Producer of Rusted Roots' album 'Remember' 
  • Producer of Fatima Mansions' album 'Lost in the Former West' 
  • Producer of The Verve Pipe's album 'Villains' 
  • Producer of Black 47's 'Home of the Brave' 
  • Producer of Paraphenalia's 'Pure' 
  • Producer of Billygoat's 'Bush Roaming Mammals' 
  • Producer of Noëlla Hotton's self-titled album 
  • Keyboard player with The Heads 
  • Produced one third of Poi Dog Pondering's album "Vole, Vole," 
  • Produced Pure's "Purefenalia". 
  • Produced The Bogmen's "Life Begins at 40 Million" 
  • Produced Please's "Here It Comes It Again." 
  • Produced Big Head Todd and the Monsters' "Beautiful World" 
  • Produced Mayfield 4's "Fallout" 
  • Produced Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band's "The Trouble Is. 
  • Produced most of Stroke 9's "Nasty Little Thoughts" 
  • Produced Foo Fighters' album "Walking After You" 
  • Produced Bijou Phillip's: "I'd rather Eat Glass" 
  • Produced No Doubts' "New"



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