Mike Curb
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Mike Curb

Michael Curb
Mike Curb Congregation and Davy Jones on Pop 1972 (cropped).JPG
Curb in 1972
42nd Lieutenant Governor of California

January 8, 1979 - January 3, 1983
GovernorJerry Brown
Mervyn M. Dymally
Leo T. McCarthy
Personal details
Michael Curb

(1944-12-24) December 24, 1944 (age 74)
Savannah, Georgia, U.S.
Political partyRepublican

Michael Curb (born December 24, 1944, Savannah, Georgia, United States) is an American musician, record company executive, motorsports car owner, and politician who served as the 42nd Lieutenant Governor of California from 1979 to 1983 under Democratic Governor Edmund G. "Jerry" Brown Jr. Like every other Lt. Governor in California, Curb was acting governor of California while Brown spent time outside California on state business, and outside California pursuing presidential ambitions. He is also the founder of Curb Records as well as an inductee of the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame.[1]

Early music career

As a freshman at San Fernando Valley State College (now California State University, Northridge), while working in the practice rooms of the Department of Music, Curb wrote the song "You Meet the Nicest People on a Honda (Go Little Honda)" which the company selected for its ad campaign. Dropping out of college in 1963 at the age of 19, Curb formed his first record company, Sidewalk Records (a predecessor of Curb Records) and helped launch the careers of West Coast rock and roll artists such as the Stone Poneys (featuring Linda Ronstadt), The Arrows (featuring Davie Allan) and the Electric Flag (featuring Mike Bloomfield and Buddy Miles).

Curb scored the music for the short film, Skaterdater (1965), as well as The Wild Angels (1966), Thunder Alley (1967), Devil's Angels (1967), The Born Losers (1967) - the first of the Billy Jack films, Maryjane (1968), The Wild Racers (1968), The Savage Seven (1968), The Big Bounce (1969), The Sidehackers (1969) and Black Water Gold (1970). In 1969, he merged his company with MGM and became President of MGM Records and Verve Records. Curb composed or supervised more than 50 film scores and wrote more than 400 songs. In 1969 he co-wrote a new theme for the TV series American Bandstand, which was used until 1974.

Curb (center) with members of the Mike Curb Congregation and Davy Jones on a television special in 1972.

Curb organized his own musical group, The Mike Curb Congregation in the 1960s; they had a Top 40 pop hit in early 1971 with the title cut from their album Burning Bridges (written and composed by Lalo Schifrin and Mike Curb) which was used as the theme of Brian G. Hutton's film Kelly's Heroes. The song reached #1 in South Africa.[2] They had an adult contemporary chart hit in 1970 with the song "Sweet Gingerbread Man" from the film The Magic Garden of Stanley Sweetheart[3] and had a minor hit in 1973 with the Sherman Brothers composition "It's a Small World".[4] The group was featured on Sammy Davis Jr.'s #1 Billboard Hot 100 hit of 1972, "The Candy Man" (the Aubrey Woods version was featured in the film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory) and in 1978, the Mike Curb Congregation was featured in the musical The Magic of Lassie, starring James Stewart. They recorded "Together, a New Beginning" in 1980, the theme song for Ronald Reagan's successful presidential bid that year. The Mike Curb Congregation were weekly regulars on Glen Campbell's CBS' National Network Television Show.

In 1969, Curb signed Christian rock pioneer Larry Norman to Capitol Records.[5]

Curb wrote and produced music for the Hanna-Barbera animated series "The Cattanooga Cats". The theme for the cartoon series "Hot Wheels" is credited to Mike Curb and the Curbstones.

In the 1970s, Curb wrote and produced for Roy Orbison, the Osmond Family, Lou Rawls, Sammy Davis Jr. and Solomon Burke; he also signed artists such as the Sylvers, Eric Burdon, War, Richie Havens, the Five Man Electrical Band, Gloria Gaynor, Johnny Bristol, Exile, The Four Seasons and the Dutch singer Heintje Simons and The Mob (Chicago band).[6] Curb ran a short-lived country music subsidiary label for Motown called Hitsville Records.[7] Curb composed "It Was a Good Time" for Liza Minnelli's Emmy Award winning Liza with a Z. He also received BMI awards for composing "Burning Bridges" for Clint Eastwood's Kelly's Heroes, and for composing "All for the Love of Sunshine", which was Hank Williams Jr.'s first #1 Record. Mike Curb served as chairman of the Inaugural Youth Concert for President Nixon's second term on January 20, 1973.[8] He enlisted many of the artists from MGM records as well as others to perform for the historic event. Solomon Burke, Mike Curb Congregation, The Mob, Jimmy Osmond, Tommy Roe, Ray Stevens, The Sylvers, Don Costa Orchestra and Laurie Lee Schaefer were on the stage for the young audience. Mike also served as the master of ceremonies for the program.[9] The Mike Curb Congregation sang "Nixon Now (More Than Ever)", a 1972 promotional record to help re-elect Nixon.

MGM anti-drug controversy

In 1970, Billboard reported that "MGM Records president Mike Curb has dropped 18 acts who, in his opinion, promote and exploit hard drugs through music."[10] Billboard reported that Curb was alarmed by the drug-related deaths of Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and Alan Wilson of Canned Heat.[10] Among the musicians thought to be included in the purge were The Velvet Underground and Frank Zappa's group The Mothers of Invention. However Zappa spoke out against drug use throughout his career and by early 1969 had fulfilled his MGM/Verve contract and moved to his own Bizarre Records label, distributed by Warner Bros. Also, when Eric Burdon, who was an advocate of psychedelics, dared Curb to release him from his contract although he was his biggest selling artist, Curb acquiesced.[11][12]

Curb claimed industry support, but the only record company official he cited, Bill Gallagher, the president of Paramount Records, contradicted him.[13]Columbia Records president Clive Davis said Curb was "grandstanding," and that his anti-drug stance had made him "a minor hero of the Nixon administration."[14] In 1997, Curb said the affair had happened at a time when "you were considered a freak if you spoke out against drugs."[12]

Throughout Curb's career he has helped artists through drug and substance abuse issues through numerous charities.[15]

Political career

Signatures from a resolution signed by Curb in his ceremonial role of President of the California State Senate

Encouraged to enter politics in part by Ronald Reagan, Curb was elected Lieutenant Governor of California in 1978, defeating the incumbent Democrat, Mervyn M. Dymally. Democratic candidate Jerry Brown was re-elected governor in the same year.

During much of Brown's 1979-1980 bid to become the Democratic presidential candidate, Curb served as acting governor, vetoing legislation, issuing executive orders and making appointments; actions the California's Supreme Court upheld as Curb's constitutional prerogative.[16] Curb worked with Harvey Milk on the campaign against the Briggs Initiative and persuaded Reagan to oppose it, leading to its defeat. Curb has been a leading conservative supporter of gay rights ever since.[17]

Curb lost the 1982 Republican gubernatorial nomination to California attorney general George Deukmejian. In 1986, Curb ran again for lieutenant governor as the Republican nominee against the incumbent Democrat Leo T. McCarthy in a bitterly contested race largely run on the issue of punishment for drug trafficking and violent crimes. A vocal opponent of drug use, Curb advocated extension of the death penalty to include drug pushers whose narcotics trafficking resulted in a death.[18] As of 2019, he is the last Republican elected lieutenant governor; Abel Maldonado was appointed to the position by then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger but lost the subsequent election to then San Francisco mayor and future Governor Gavin Newsom.

In 1980, Curb served as the national co-chairman of Ronald Reagan's successful presidential campaign. Curb also served as the chairman of the convention program in Detroit and was later appointed by President Reagan to be chairman of the national finance committee in Washington D.C.[19]

Involvement in car racing

A motorsport enthusiast, Curb is a co-owner of the Curb Agajanian Performance Group, a team that has won 10 national championships. His sponsorship and ownership have included three of NASCAR's most celebrated drivers: he previously owned Richard Petty's famed No. 43 car in 1984 and 1985, during which Petty achieved his 199th and 200th career wins. Curb was also a sponsor for Dale Earnhardt during his 1980 Winston Cup championship winning season, and sponsored Darrell Waltrip's No. 12 Toyota Tundra in the Craftsman Truck Series, driven by Joey Miller in 2006. Curb-Agajanian also ran cars for many years in the Indianapolis 500, including for Dan Wheldon and Alexander Rossi, with whom he won the 2011 and 2016 Indianapolis 500s respectively.[20]

Curb was the only car owner to win in all 10 NASCAR auto racing series in the United States - the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (formerly Nextel/Sprint Cup and Winston Cup), the Xfinity Series (formerly the Nationwide series and Busch Series), the Gander Outdoors Truck Series (formerly the Camping World Truck Series and Craftsman Truck Series), the Grand-Am Rolex Daytona Prototype National Sports Car Series (now the United Sports Car Series merged with American Le Mans), the IMSA GT Series (formerly IMSA Camel GT), Continental Series (formerly IMSA GTS), the Late Model All American Series, the Modifieds and the K&N East and West Series.[21]

Rico Abreu's 2014 USAC Midget car

Curb was the co-owner with Richard Childress of the No. 98 Chevrolet driven by Austin Dillon.[21] Curb is also a long-time sponsor of ThorSport Racing in the Truck Series, being part-owner of the team's No. 98 Toyota driven by Rico Abreu. He also maintained a similar partnership with Phil Parsons Racing in the Cup Series, which also ran the No. 98.

The Curb Racing team has cars in United States Automobile Club (USAC) competition. Their drivers Christopher Bell and Rico Abreu won the 2013 and 2014 USAC National Midget tours.

Elvis House

In 2006, Curb purchased a house at 1034 Audubon Drive, Memphis, which was once owned by Elvis Presley.[22] Curb renovated the house and turned it over to the Mike Curb Institute at Rhodes College.[22]

Public honors

In Nashville, Curb has become a civic leader and benefactor of Belmont University, where his donation toward the construction of a new arena resulted in it being named the Curb Event Center. The university also runs the Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business. He also endowed the Curb Center and the Curb Creative Campus program at Vanderbilt University and the Mike Curb Institute of Music at Rhodes College in Memphis. In 2001, Curb was inducted into the Junior Achievement U.S. Business Hall of Fame. Curb was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 2003 and the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame in 2009.[23]

In August 2006,[24] Curb pledged $10 million to California State University, Northridge (CSUN) (in Los Angeles) to endow his alma mater's arts college and provide a lead gift for the university's regional performing arts center. Of the $10 million gift, $5 million supported CSUN's College of Arts, Media, and Communication, one of the university's largest colleges that offers degree and certificate programs for more than 4,400 students. Of the gift, $4 million went into a general endowment for the college, and $1 million endowed a faculty chair specializing in music industry studies. As a result, the college was named in his honor.

On June 29, 2007, Curb was honored with the 2,341st star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.[25]

CSU Channel Islands dedicated the Mike Curb Studio in Napa Hall on the Camarillo, California university campus on October 21, 2010. The studio is a post-production and film and video production facility.

Curb has also endowed numerous other colleges and programs for the underserved communities.[26]

In 2014, Curb was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, Tennessee.[27]



Year Album US
1970 Come Together 105
Sweet Gingerbread Man 185
1971 Burning Bridges and Other Motion Picture Themes 117
Put Your Hand in the Hand 205
1972 Softly Whispering I Love You 206
1973 It's a Small World Unreleased (test pressings exist, MGM SE-4900[28])

Collaboration albums

Year Album US Country
1971 All for the Love of Sunshine (with Hank Williams, Jr.) 10


Year Single Peak chart positions
1971 "Sweet Gingerbread Man" 16 115 95 --
1970 "Burning Bridges" 16 34 40 12
1972 "See You in September" 15 108 -- --
1973 "It's a Small Small World" 9 108 -- --

Guest singles

Year Single Peak chart positions Album
US Country US
1970 "All for the Love of Sunshine" (with Hank Williams, Jr.) 1 -- -- 1 -- -- All for the Love of Sunshine
"Rainin' in My Heart" (with Hank Williams, Jr.) 3 108 -- 2 -- --
1971 "Ain't That a Shame" (with Hank Williams, Jr.) 7 -- -- 16 -- -- Hank Williams, Jr.'s Greatest Hits Vol. II
1972 "The Candy Man" (with Sammy Davis, Jr.) -- 1 1 -- 2 3 Sammy Davis Jr. Now
"Long Haired Lover from Liverpool" (with Little Jimmy Osmond) -- 38 -- -- -- -- Killer Joe
"Gone (Our Endless Love)" (with Billy Walker) 24 -- -- -- -- -- The Billy Walker Show
"The People Tree" (with Sammy Davis, Jr.) -- 92 16 -- -- -- Portrait of Sammy Davis, Jr.
"Living Together, Growing Together" (with Tony Bennett) -- 111 -- -- -- -- single only


  1. ^ "West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame". West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2012.
  2. ^ "South African Rock Lists Website - SA Charts 1965 - 1989 Songs (A-B)". www.rock.co.za. Retrieved 2019.
  3. ^ Billboard Adult Contemporary Chart Archive 1970-7-18, song-database.com, retrieved Apr. 25, 2015.
  4. ^ Label of MGM single "It's A Small Small World", image at 45cat.com, retrieved January 21, 2015
  5. ^ "Larry (David) Norman", Encyclopedia of Evangelicalism, ed. Randall Herbert Balmer (Westminster John Knox Press, 2002):411.
  6. ^ "The MOB". Mikebaker45s.wordpress.com. August 16, 2012. Retrieved 2017.
  7. ^ Spencer Leigh (October 4, 2005). "Obituaries - Ray Ruff". The Independent. Retrieved 2010.
  8. ^ Hunter, Marjorie (December 22, 1972). "Inaugural Events to Put Accent on Youth". Nytimes.com. Retrieved 2017.
  9. ^ "Richard Nixon: Remarks at the Annual Dinner of the White House Correspondents Association". Presidency.ucsb.edu. Retrieved 2017.
  10. ^ a b Elliot Tiegel (November 7, 1970). "MGM Busts 18 Rock Groups". Billboard.
  11. ^ "FZ Discography". Retrieved 2010.
  12. ^ a b Beverly Keel (October 2, 1997). "Can Mike Curb Be as Clean as He Looks?". Nashville Scene. Retrieved 2010.
  13. ^ Elliot Tiegel (November 21, 1970). "Curb Backs Curbing Stand; Will Not Name Acts Cut". Billboard. Los Angeles.
  14. ^ Davis, Clive; James Willworth (1975). Clive: Inside The Record Business. New York: William Morrow & Company. pp. 114, 273. ISBN 0-688-02872-1.
  15. ^ "Mike Curb - Family Foundation". Mikecurbfamilyfoundation.com. Retrieved 2017.
  16. ^ In re the Petition of the Commission on the Governorship of California (Brown v. Curb), 26 Cal. 3d 110.
  17. ^ Wadwhani, Anita (April 13, 2010). "Music mogul Mike Curb wields clout on social issues". The Tennesseean. Retrieved 2010.
  18. ^ Shuitt, Douglas, California Elections: Curb, McCarthy - Vying to Become the Toughest Cop?, Los Angeles Times, October 10, 1986
  19. ^ Mike Curb 50 Years, pg. 32; ISBN 978-0-9838218-1-6
  20. ^ Mike Curb 50 Years book ISBN 978-0-9838218-1-6
  21. ^ a b "Mike Curb: Nashville, TN - Songwriter, Producer and Record Company Owner". Mikecurbracing.com. Retrieved 2017.
  22. ^ a b Moore, Scotty. "1034 Audubon Drive". Scotty Moore official site. Retrieved 2016.
  23. ^ "2009 Inductees". North Carolina Music Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2012.
  24. ^ Communications, California State University, Northridge, Office of University Web. "California State University, Northridge". Csun.edu. Retrieved 2017.
  25. ^ "Music Mogul Mike Curb Honored with 2,341st Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame". Archived from the original on February 16, 2008. Retrieved 2008.
  26. ^ [1][dead link]
  27. ^ "Mike Curb: Nashville, TN - Songwriter, Producer and Record Company Owner". Mikecurb.com. Retrieved 2017.
  28. ^ "MGM Album Discography, Part 11". Bsnpubs.com. May 26, 2003. Retrieved 2014.
  29. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2011). Top Pop Singles 1955-2010. Record Research, Inc. p. 217. ISBN 0-89820-188-8.

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Mervyn M. Dymally
Lieutenant Governors of California
Succeeded by
Leo T. McCarthy

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