Linus of HollywoodView in iTunes
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Growing up in Florida in the 1980s, Kevin Dotson (b. March 4, 1973, in Omaha, NE) took an immediate interest in music. He began playing guitar at the age of five, eventually learning drums, piano, and bass as well, and immersing himself in every style of rock and popular music throughout his teenage years, at first gravitating towards then-popular new wave and heavy metal sounds, but eventually finding the Beatles, Beach Boys, and Zombies as his songwriting and playing skills began to improve. He moved to Los Angeles in the summer of 1994 to pursue music as a profession, and immediately earned the nickname Linus (for his tendency to wear T-shirts in the style of the Peanuts character). The nickname stuck and Linus of Hollywood became his professional nom de plume thenceforward. By mid 1995, he had formed the punk-pop band Size 14 (named after his shoe size) and they landed a major-label deal within a year, ultimately releasing a well-received self-titled album on Volcano in 1997. Following the band's breakup, Linus wrote and played on various rock and rap records and remixes by artists as diverse as Smashing Pumpkins, Puff Daddy, and Lil' Kim, as well as keeping active on the Los Angeles underground pop scene, writing and producing for many up-and-coming artists. In 1999, he recorded his solo debut, Your Favorite Record, in his own bedroom studio -- which he called Franklin Castle -- playing most of the instruments himself. The album was mixed at Bruce Witkin's Pop Squad Studios in Hollywood, and put out on the in-house label Popsquad Records. At the beginning of 2000, he formed his own record label, Franklin Castle Recordings, and reissued Your Favorite Record as its first release. Aside from his outstanding originals, the album championed the work of obscure '60s pop songwriter Margo Guryan -- whose songs have been covered by artists as diverse as Spanky & Our Gang, Bobby Sherman, St. Etienne, Astrud Gilberto, Mama Cass, and Claudine Longet -- by including two of her songs on the album. He spent the remainder of 2000 working on various outside projects. Let Yourself Be Happy marked Linus of Hollywood's sophomore effort, released in spring 2001. ~ Stanton Swihart