Don Was – Americana Music Association showcase – Nashville, TN (2010)
Background information Birth name Don Fagenson Born September 13, 1952 Origin Detroit, Michigan, US Genres Rock, new wave Occupation(s) Musician, Record Producer, President of Blue Note Records Instruments Bass guitar, vocals, piano Years active 1971–present Associated acts Was (Not Was) Orquestra Was
Bob Dylan, Rolling Stones, Bonnie Raitt, John Mayer, Bob Weir and Wolf Bros
Don Edward Fagenson (born September 13, 1952), known as Don Was, is an American musician, record producer and record executive. Primarily a bass player, Was led the 1980s funk-rock band Was (Not Was). In later years he produced songs and albums for a large number of popular recording artists. In 2012, he became president of jazz music label Blue Note Records.
Life and career
Detroit, Michigan, Was graduated from  Oak Park High School in the Detroit suburb of Oak Park, then attended the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor but dropped out after the first year. A journeyman musician, he grew up listening to the Detroit blues sound and the jazz music of John Coltrane and Miles Davis, amongst many others. As a teenager, Was was further influenced by the Beat Generation, most notably  John Sinclair.
In high school, Was was the lead singer and guitar player in a Detroit rock band called the Saturns.
The first recording project that he engineered and produced was in 1971 with drummer
Muruga Booker on a recording called Rama Rama / Endless Path.
Using the stage name "Don Was", he formed the group
Was (Not Was) with school friend David Weiss ( David Was). The group found commercial success in the 1980s – releasing four albums and logging several hit records. Their biggest hit was "Walk the Dinosaur", off of their album A jazz/R&B album of What up, Dog? Hank Williams covers, " Forever's A Long, Long Time" was released in 1997, under the name Orquestra Was. In 2008, Was (Not Was) reunited for an acclaimed new album titled  and tour.
Was has received four Grammy Awards including the 1994
Grammy Award for Producer of the Year.  He produced several albums for  Bonnie Raitt including her album that won the 1989 Nick of Time Grammy Award for Album of the Year. Don also collaborated with co-producer  Ziggy Marley, on Family Time, winner of 2009's Best Musical Album For Children. He produced  the Rolling Stones 2016 album which won the Grammy for Best Traditional Blues album.
Blue and Lonesome,
He served as music director and/or consultant for several motion pictures such as
, Thelma and Louise , The Rainmaker , Hope Floats , Phenomenon , Tin Cup , Honeymoon in Vegas , 8 Seconds , Switch , The Freshman , Days of Thunder , Michael , Prêt-à-Porter , Boys on the Side and Toy Story .
In 1997, he directed and produced a documentary,
, about former Beach Boy I Just Wasn't Made for These Times Brian Wilson. The film debuted at the Sundance Film Festival and won the San Francisco Film Festival's Golden Gate Award. He also received the British Academy Award ( BAFTA) for Best Original Score in recognition of his compositions for the film .
Was, who is a fan of
the Rolling Stones and saw them in concert when he was age 12 in 1964, produced their albums Voodoo Lounge, Stripped, Bridges to Babylon, Forty Licks, Live Licks, A Bigger Bang and Blue & Lonesome. He also worked on the Rolling Stones's reissues , released in May 2010 and Exile on Main Street released in October 2011. Was scoured old master recordings of the albums for lost gems, remastering some songs while producing entirely new vocals and tracks on others. Some Girls
Was also produced
the B-52's 1989 album , which included their smash hit " Cosmic Thing Love Shack".
Since 2008, Was has hosted the proceedings (and led the house band) at the
Detroit All-Star Revue, an annual showcase of local acts from the Detroit music scene.
From 2009 to 2012, Don hosted a weekly radio show on Sirius XM satellite radio's
Outlaw Country channel called The Motor City Hayride. During the 2011 season of American Idol, Was appeared in several episodes producing contestants Haley Reinhart, Scotty McCreery, Paul McDonald, Lauren Alaina and Casey Abrams.
In January 2012, he was appointed president of the jazz record label,
Blue Note Records in succession to Bruce Lundvall.
He won the 2014 Emmy Award for Outstanding Music Direction for his work on the CBS TV special "The Beatles: The Night That Changed America."
On November 18, 2015, at
DAR Constitution Hall in Washington DC, he led the house band that performed at a concert celebrating Willie Nelson, recipient of the 2015 Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.
In 2018, Was joined former
Grateful Dead guitarist Bob Weir and drummer Jay Lane to form Bob Weir & Wolf Bros, a trio which undertook a North American tour in the Fall of 2018.
Don Was is the father of three sons who are also musicians; Tony, who plays in
Eve 6, Henry plays in Thumpasaurus, and Justin Jay's Fantastic Voyage, and Solomon who has played in Leven Kali, and Felly. Don is married to former Virgin Records A&R executive and video director Gemma Corfield, and is the brother of Dr. Nancy Fagenson Potok, Chief Statistician of the United States of America, who is also former Principal Associate Director and Chief Financial Officer of the US Census Bureau and Deputy Undersecretary for Economic Affairs at the US Department of Commerce.
– Was (Not Was) Was (Not Was) (Bass, Synthesizer, Vocals, Producer) 1982:
The Beat Goes On – Orbit featuring Carol Hall (Co-Producer) 1983:
– Was (Not Was) (Producer, Bass. Keyboards, Engineer) Born to Laugh at Tornadoes 1984:
, Into the Hot Floy Joy (producer) 1985:
– Spoiled Girl Carly Simon (producer) 1986
– Weak in the Presence of Beauty Floy Joy (producer) 1986
Madness of It All – The Ward Brothers (producer) 1986
Cross That Bridge – The Ward Brothers (producer) 1988:
– Was (Not Was) (Producer, engineer, Bass, Guitar, Keyboards) What Up, Dog? 1989:
– Nick of Time Bonnie Raitt (keyboards, producer) 1989:
– Cosmic Thing The B-52s (producer) 1990:
Take It to Heart – Michael McDonald (programming, producer, synthesizer, sequencing, synthesizer programming) 1990:
– Brick by Brick Iggy Pop (producer) 1990:
– Under the Red Sky Bob Dylan (bass, producer) 1990:
– To Be Continued Elton John (Producer) 1991:
– Khaled Khaled (Producer, Bass, Keyboards) 1991:
– Are You Okay? Was (Not Was) (Producer, Bass, engineer, Guitar, Vocals) 1991:
– Bonnie Raitt (producer) Luck of the Draw 1991:
– The Fire Inside Bob Seger (bass, producer) 1992:
– Kirya Ofra Haza (producer) 1992:
– Arkansas Traveler Michelle Shocked (producer) 1992:
– Time Takes Time Ringo Starr (producer) 1992:
– The B-52s (producer) Good Stuff 1992:
Read My Lips – A Thousand Points of Night (one-off side project alias) 1992:
– Strange Weather Glenn Frey (producer) 1992:
– King of Hearts Roy Orbison (producer, Hammond organ, background vocals) 1992:
– Delbert McClinton (Producer) Never Been Rocked Enough 1993:
– Across the Borderline Willie Nelson (producer) 1993:
– Thousand Roads David Crosby (producer) 1993:
– I'm Alive Jackson Browne (producer) 1994:
– Bonnie Raitt (bass, producer) Longing in Their Hearts 1994:
– Voodoo Lounge The Rolling Stones (producer) 1994: "
Waymore's Blues" – Waylon Jennings (Producer and Bass) 1995:
– The Road Goes on Forever The Highwaymen (producer) 1995:
– Bob Dylan (mixing) MTV Unplugged 1995:
– I Just Wasn't Made for These Times Brian Wilson (producer) 1995:
– Bonnie Raitt (producer) Road Tested 1995:
– The Rolling Stones (producer/Hammond B-3 Organ) Stripped 1996:
– The Restless Kind Travis Tritt (producer) 1996:
– Organic Joe Cocker (Producer) 1996:
– El Equilibrio de los Jaguares Jaguares (Producer) 1997:
– The Rolling Stones (bass, keyboards, executive producer, producer, piano) Bridges to Babylon 1997:
– Undiscovered Soul Richie Sambora (producer) 1999:
– Suicaine Gratifaction Paul Westerberg (producer) 1999:
– Spirit of Music Ziggy Marley (producer) 1999:
– Iggy Pop (producer) Avenue B 1999:
– In the Life of Chris Gaines Garth Brooks (producer) 2000:
– Maroon Barenaked Ladies (producer) 2001:
– Lions The Black Crowes (bass, producer, mixing) 2002:
– The Wide World Over The Chieftains (Producer, Bass) 2003:
– Hootie & the Blowfish Hootie & the Blowfish (producer) 2004:
– The Rolling Stones (producer) Live Licks 2005:
– Willie Nelson (producer) Countryman 2005:
– Solomon Burke (Producer) Make Do with What You Got 2005:
– The Rolling Stones (producer, piano) A Bigger Bang 2006:
– This Old Road Kris Kristofferson (producer, piano, acoustic and upright bass) 2006: "
Out of the Ashes" – Jessi Colter (Producer, Bass) 2006:
– Fly Zucchero (producer) 2008:
– Last Days at the Lodge Amos Lee (producer) 2008:
– Tennessee Pusher Old Crow Medicine Show (producer) 2008:
– Was (Not Was) (Producer, engineer, Bass, Keyboards, Drums, Vocals) Boo! 2009:
The Excitement Plan – Todd Snider (producer) 2009:
Shimmer (EP) – Pieta Brown (Producer, Bass) 2009:
Acquired Taste – Delbert McClinton (Producer) 2009:
– Closer to the Bone Kris Kristofferson (producer) 2009: "
California Years – Jill Sobule (Producer, Bass) 2010:
– Ringo Starr (bass) Y Not 2010:
– Stone Temple Pilots Stone Temple Pilots (producer) 2010:
– Elizabeth Cook (Producer) Welder 2010:
– The Union Elton John/ Leon Russell (bass) 2010:
– Chocabeck Zucchero (producer) 2011:
– Wild and Free Ziggy Marley (producer) 2011:
– The Gate Kurt Elling (producer) 2011:
– Blessed Lucinda Williams (producer) 2012:
– Born and Raised John Mayer (producer) 2012:
– Born to Sing: No Plan B Van Morrison (producer) 2012:
La sesion cubana – Zucchero (producer) 2013:
My True Story – Aaron Neville (co-producer with Keith Richards) 2013:
– Paradise Valley John Mayer (producer) 2013:
Una rosa blanca – Zucchero (producer) 2014:
You Should Be So Lucky – Benmont Tench (bass) 2014:
– Melody Road Neil Diamond (producer) 2014: "All My Friends" concert January 14, 2014 – A tribute to
Gregg Allman – Bass 2014:
Rester Vivant – Johnny Hallyday (producer) 2014:
- Martina McBride (producer) Everlasting 2014: Enjoy the View - Bobby Hutcherson, David Sandborn, Joey DeFrancesco (producer)
2014: Heigh Ho - Blake Mills (bass)
2014: All Rise - Jason Moran (producer)
2015: Yesterday I Had the Blues - Jose James (producer)
Duets: Re-working the Catalogue - Van Morrison (producer) 2015:
No Pier Pressure - Brian Wilson (bass) 2015:
1 Hopeful Rd. - Vintage Trouble (producer) 2016:
– Black Cat Zucchero (producer) 2016:
– The Rolling Stones (producer) Blue & Lonesome 2017: - Gregg Allman (producer) Southern Blood
"Don Was – Biography". Allmusic . Retrieved . 2014-03-29
"Beat Generation", Wikipedia, 2018-05-09 , retrieved 2018-06-12
Muruga - Rama Rama / Endless Path on Bandcamp
"Don Was Biography". Musician Guide . Retrieved . 2014-03-29
^ a b c
"Grammy Award Past Winners Search – Don Was". Grammy.com . Retrieved . 2014-03-29
Harrington, Richard (August 26, 1995). "Brian Wilson's Sensational Safari". . p. D.01 The Washington Post . Retrieved . 2010-01-25
Don Was Revisits 'Exile On Main Street' National Public Radio United States May 16, 2010
DeVito, Lee (July 8, 2015). "Get Your Mojo Working". . Euclid Media. Detroit Metro Times 35 (39): 58 . Retrieved . September 3, 2015
"Don Was Joins Sirius XM for Show". AllAccess.com . Retrieved . 2014-03-29
Chinen, Nate (May 2, 2012). "Exuberance Is Just One of His Skills". The New York Times . Retrieved . 2012-05-04
Thanki, Juli (Nov 18, 2015). "Willie Nelson saluted by Alison Krauss, Jamey Johnson, more". The Tennessean . Retrieved . 2015-11-19
"Bob Weir & Wolf Bros. Announce Fall Tour". jambase.com . Retrieved . 2018-11-02