April 20, 2012
By Rebecca Gladden
Shortly after the announcement Wednesday of the passing of television icon and American Bandstand host Dick Clark, I received an email from Curb Records with the subject line: “Mike Curb Reacts to Passing of Dick Clark.”
Being a NASCAR writer, I recognized the name Mike Curb as the owner of Curb Racing (also Curb Agajanian and Baker Curb Racing), which has fielded numerous cars in the sport’s top series through the years - including the No. 13 truck being piloted by Johnny Sauter in the Camping World Truck Series this year.
Although I knew vaguely that Mr. Curb had roots in the music industry, I admit I did not realize what a true music pioneer and icon he is until I received the above-mentioned email, which spurred me to read more about him. The email stated: “I had the opportunity to work with Dick Clark for 50 years, beginning when I wrote the theme for American Bandstand. He has clearly been the most important figure during my lifetime in the industry.” - Mike Curb
A visit to his website, www.mikecurb.com
, shed more light on Curb’s fascinating background, which includes auto racing, music, politics, philanthropy and much more.
His ties to the music industry date back to 1962, the year he graduated from high school. That year, the song "Speedway," written by Curb, was recorded by the Heyburners for Titanic Records. A year later, he signed breakout singer Bobby Darin to a songwriting contract.
In the years that followed, Curb racked up an amazing number of music accomplishments, including 61 Billboard-charted records written and 20 No. 1 singles/albums produced by him. He has written and produced songs and albums for top talents like Sammy Davis, Jr., The Four Seasons, Lou Rawls, Donny Osmond, and many more. He also formed his own music group, The Mike Curb Congregation, which had a top-40 pop hit in 1971 and appeared regularly on Glen Campbell's CBS variety show in the early ‘70s.
Curb was named Billboard producer of the year in 1972, received an LA Music Awards Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2007.
As in the music field, Curb’s NASCAR involvement has included some of the sport’s most recognizable names. He sponsored Dale Earnhardt’s No. 2 car in 1980 - the year Earnhardt won his first career Cup championship, and owned the No. 43 car driven by Richard Petty during the 1984 and ’85 seasons, a span of time that included Petty’s 200th career victory at Daytona in 1984. Curb has been involved with many drivers in the Cup, Nationwide and Truck Series, including Bobby Allison, Dale Jarrett, Jimmie Johnson, Greg Biffle, Kasey Kahne, and more recently, up-and-comers like Paulie Harraka and Austin Dillon.
Whether you’re a fan of music, NASCAR, or both, a visit to Mike Curb’s website will provide hours of fascinating reading, historical photos and newspaper clippings, and lists of honors and accomplishments far too numerous to catalog here. Be sure to take a look at the photos of historic race cars in the Curb Museum for Motorsports and Music, as well as his long list of philanthropic endeavors.
If you’re like me and didn’t know much about Mike Curb until now, I guarantee you’ll be fascinated by what you discover.
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