Jonathan Richman has been writing songs, making records and performing live for most of his life, winning fans and making friends around the world with his guileless honesty and playfully catchy compositions. He’s revered by countless fellow artists, and has built a remarkably loyal international audience through his tireless touring. His deceptively straightforward songs embody timeless qualities of humanity, optimism, emotional insight and a boundless sense of humor, untainted by cynicism or transient notions of hipness.
The records that Jonathan Richman has made over the past 30 years have long held a special place in the hearts of his fans. He began playing guitar at the age of 15, and in the early 1970s formed the Modern Lovers, whose raw, minimalist sound and emotionally forthright songs helped to lay the groundwork for punk rock. But by the time the group’s landmark debut album (including the much-covered “Road Runner,” a Top Five single in Europe) was released in 1976, Jonathan had already moved on to a quieter sound and a gentler lyrical focus. Since then, he’s continued to record and tour prolifically, first with a series of Modern Lovers lineups, later on his own, and eventually as a duo with drummer Tommy Larkins. Over the years, Jonathan’s music has absorbed a multitude of influences, from doo-wop to country to a variety of international styles, without sacrificing the artist’s effervescent personality.
Jonathan’s fans have remained fiercely devoted over the years, and his audience expanded substantially in the 1990s, thanks to his frequent guest spots on TV’s Late Night with Conan O’Brien, his prominent appearance in the 1998 film comedy smash There’s Something About Mary, and the inclusions of his Modern Lovers classics “Ice Cream Man” and “I’m A Little Airplane” on Sesame Street.
For much of his career, Jonathan has toured almost almost nonstop around the world. “Traveling and playing for new people in new places is one of my favorite things,” he notes. “It’s great playing places that are off the beaten track. You can learn a lot when you play in a little town in Holland or Western Australia, and you learn different things than you would learn playing a big city. This year we’re going to try to play in Extremadura, which is the southwest of Spain–we might become the first American entertainers ever to play there. I’m hoping that we can able to play the Canary Islands soon.
photo “Playing shows and making records keeps been getting easier and more fun,” Jonathan states, adding, “Me and Tommy play totally different than we played two years ago. We already play a different style than we played on that live DVD, and the way we played then was totally different from the way we played three years before that. I still feel like we’re just starting out, and I still learn new stuff every night.”
(Please note that Jonathan Richman does not have any direct involvement with the Vapor Records website and does not participate in the internet on any level.)
JONATHAN RICHMAN DISCOGRAPHY
1976 – Modern Lovers – Get Back
1977 – Jonathan Richman & the Modern Lovers – Get Back
1977 – Rock ‘N’ Roll with the Modern Lovers… – Beserkley
1977 – Live – Wooded Hill
1979 – Back in Your Life – Wooded Hill
1983 – Jonathan Sings – Warner
1985 – Rockin’ & Romance – Twin/Tone
1986 – It’s Time for Jonathan Richman – Upside
1988 – Modern Lovers 88 – Rounder
1989 – Jonathan Richman – Rounder
1990 – Jonathan Goes Country – Rounder
1991 – Having a Party with Jonathan Richman – Rounder
1992 – I, Jonathan – Rounder
1994 – Jonathan, Te Vas a Emocionar! – Rounder
1995 – You Must Ask the Heart – Rounder
1996 – Surrender to Jonathan – Vapor
1998 – Live at the Long Branch & More – Last Call
1998 – I’m So Confused – Vapor
2001 – Her Mystery Not of High Heels and Eye Shadow – Vapor
2004 – Not So Much to Be Loved as to Love – Vapor/Sanctuary
2007 – Revolution Summer Soundtrack – Vapor
2008 – Because Her Beauty Is Raw And Wild – Vapor
2010 – O Moon – Vapor
Videos & Press
[Express Milwaukee] By Evan Rytlewski In the pantheon of musicians whose artistic legacies hinge almost entirely on just one album, Jonathan Richman is right up there with The Violent Femmes. Richman’s self-titled 1976 debut with The Modern Lovers is one of the great records of its era (or any era, really), an open-hearted celebration of […]
Jonathan Richman’s lyrics for “That Summer Feeling” are American Songwriter Magazine’s Lyrics of The Week!
[American Songwriter] June 9, 2013 By Jim Beviglia The most popular summer songs tend to be about cars and sunshine and sweet romances, all things designed to makes us feel nostalgic and joyful when we hear them booming out of a stereo system. Yet Jonathan Richman has always looked at taken-for-granted subjects in a slightly […]
Rare Interview: Jonathan Richman Corresponds With Us About the Internet, Air Conditioning, and Being a Punk Godfather
[SF Weekly] By Emma Silvers Wed., Jun. 27 2012 Like so many Jonathan Richman devotees, we first fell for the lanky singer-songwriter after hearing the Modern Lovers’ homage to the Velvet Underground, “Roadrunner.” From the nasally, gleeful count-off to the plaintive “Come on you girls of modern rock ‘n’ roll!” (What? What do you need? […]
[Salon.com] Thursday, Jun 14, 2012 Over three decades, the legendary musician has taught me to listen to the pauses — and my inner kid By Dean Wareham It’s easy enough to foist your music collection on your kids. Lectures are not required; you just play the stuff while they are prisoner in the backseat on […]
[Philadelphia Inquirer] By Jonathan Valania If Jonathan Richman didn’t already exist, we would never have thought to invent him, which is a testament to his originality and to the shortcomings of our collective imagination. For more than 35 years, Richman has been a tireless advocate of hopeful romanticism, rugged individualism, and unyielding optimism, traveling the […]
[Spinner.com] By Garin Pirnia Former Modern Lovers frontman and one half of the Greek chorus from the 1998 film ‘There’s Something About Mary,’ Jonathan Richman, ended his five-week tour at the Metro in Chicago Friday night. Comprised solely of Richman, his acoustic guitar and jazz drummer Tommy Larkins (also in ‘Mary’), the pair performed everything […]
[Gapers Block] Jonathan Richman doesn’t exactly put on a rock show. After all, in this 2001 Salon interview article, Jonathan Richman reveals he doesn’t want to make music that would hurt a baby’s ears. His is a charming serenade, more a moonlight sonata with dancing than a headbanger’s ball. And yet, he’s distinguished not in […]