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Roger O'Donnell

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Keyboard player Roger O'Donnell is best known for his long tenure with the Cure, but he's also played with other noted acts and has moved on to a solo career. Born in East London in 1955, O'Donnell was the youngest of four children in a family fascinated with music and art. O'Donnell claims he was born next to the piano in his parents' living room, and he first learned to play when his eldest brother taught him some 12-bar blues numbers. As a teenager, O'Donnell was fascinated with jazz fusion, funk, and progressive rock, and took a part-time job to purchase his first electric piano. O'Donnell landed his first professional gig not long after he enrolled in art school when he was hired to back up wildly eccentric rocker Arthur Brown for a pub gig. Soon music was keeping O'Donnell busy enough that he quit school and formed a combo with some friends. In 1983, a friend and former bandmate Boris Williams recommended O'Donnell for a spot in the Thompson Twins' touring group, and after two years on the road with them he took a similar position with the Psychedelic Furs. In 1987, Boris Williams was playing with the Cure, and when Lol Tolhurst left the band, Williams suggested O'Donnell be auditioned as their new keyboard player. O'Donnell got the job, and joined the Cure in time for an American tour in support of Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me. O'Donnell appeared on the Cure's next two albums, Disintegration and the compilation Entreat, but tensions within the group caused O'Donnell to quit in 1990; he rejoined the band in 1996 in time for the sessions for Wild Mood Swings, and was a member for the next ten years, leaving when Robert Smith opted to strip the the Cure down to a trio in 2006. That same year, O'Donnell put out a primarily instrumental solo album, The Truth in Me, with an EP of remixes, Half Truths, following a few months later. In 2008 O'Donnell released Songs from the Silver Box, a personal project recorded entirely on the Moog Voyager, a vintage synthesizer that's long been one of his favorite instruments. In the fall of 2009, O'Donnell completed the first album from Charlie Crow, a side project he described as "Jazz/Electro." O'Donnell also frequently collaborates with singer and instrumentalist Erin Lang and manages the punk band the Machetes. ~ Mark Deming

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1955 in London, England

Years Active:

'80s, '90s, '00s