Marshall Crenshaw - vocals, guitar; Robert Crenshaw - vocals, drums; Chris Donato - bass
Marshall Crenshaw is one of the few successful pop stars to have emerged from Broadway, having landed his first successful gig as John Lennon in the musical Beatlemania! Crenshaw secured the role in the late 1970s after answering an ad in Rolling Stone Magazine promoting auditions for the play, which had not yet opened. Born and raised in Michigan, Marshall fronted many popular, but unsigned, bar bands in and around Detroit. Unable to woo A&R execs to hear his music, he took the Beatlemania! gig out of frustration.
"I couldn't make the audition, but I sent them a picture and a tape, and from that they hired me," says Crenshaw. "I did it for a year as the understudy on Broadway, and then I actually had the role for the touring cast. It was fun at first. Then I got utterly sick of it. It was OK money, but it wasn't mad money. I was looking for a direction. I didn't really have a direction in my life, but I knew I wanted to be in the music business."
While touring for Beatlemania!, Crenshaw began writing three-minute pop songs with very catchy hooks. With his brother, Robert, on drums and bassist Chris Donato, he cut a number of demos and landed a deal with an indie label in New York. He left the musical and, shortly thereafter, began touring. Eventually, he drew enough attention for Warner Brothers Records to take notice, and the label bought out his contract and issued his self-titled debut album in 1982. The first single, "Someday, Someway," was embraced by critics and a number of radio programmers, and eventually climbed to the Top 30.
With his small but mighty trio, Crenshaw became a critics' darling and a regular draw at showcase clubs across the U.S.. At the same time, he began getting acting offers, and during this period he portrayed Buddy Holly in the film La Bamba, and also landed a role in the Kathleen Turner film Peggy Sue Got Married.
This show was recorded a little more than a year after Crenshaw found success with his first album. Recorded at the intimate Ripley's Music Hall in Philadelphia, it was first broadcast on local station WMMR FM, and then nationally on the King Biscuit Flower Hour. "When I finally started to write songs it was sum total of all my experiences as an adult," says Crenshaw. This show is a good example of the song writing that was embraced by new wave fans in the early '80s. He also does a couple of covers, including a rockin' version of the Elvis Presley classic "Little Sister."