The Modern Lovers were an American rock band led by Jonathan Richman in the 1970s and 1980s. The original band, billed simply as "The Modern Lovers", existed from 1970–74 but their recordings were not released until 1976 or later. It featured Richman and bassist Ernie Brooks with drummer David Robinson (later of The Cars) and keyboardist Jerry Harrison (later of Talking Heads). The sound of the band owed a great deal to the influence of The Velvet Underground, and is now sometimes classed as "protopunk". It pointed the way towards much of the punk rock, new wave, alternative and indie rock music of later decades. Their only album, the eponymous The Modern Lovers, contained stylistically unprecedented songs about dating awkwardness, growing up in Massachusetts, and love of life and the USA.
Later, between 1976 and 1988, Richman used the name Modern Lovers for a variety of backing bands, always billed as "Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers." These bands were quieter and featured more low-key, often near-childlike, songs, as Richman drew on folk-rock and other genres. Out of Richman's original bandmates, only Robinson was part of any of the other Modern Lovers incarnations.
The original Modern Lovers, 1970-1974
Richman grew up in Natick, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston, and began playing guitar and writing songs in his mid teens, first performing solo in public in 1967. He became enamored with the Velvet Underground while he was still in high school, and after graduating in 1969, he moved to New York City where he became personally acquainted with the band and on one occasion opened the bill for them. Richman spent a couple of weeks sleeping on Velvets’ manager Steve Sesnick's sofa before moving into the Hotel Albert, a residence known for its poor conditions.
Full article ▸