Legendary musician Richard Marx offers an enlightening, entertaining look at his life and career.
Richard Marx is one of the most accomplished singer-songwriters in the history of popular music. His self-titled 1987 album went triple platinum and made him the first male solo artist (and second solo artist overall after Whitney Houston) to have four singles from their debut crack the top three on the Billboard Hot 100. His follow-up, 1989’s Repeat Offender, was an even bigger smash, going quadruple platinum and landing two singles at number one. He has written fourteen number one songs in total, shared a Song of the Year Grammy with Luther Vandross, and collaborated with a variety of artists including NSYNC, Josh Groban, Natalie Cole, and Keith Urban. Lately, he’s also become a Twitter celebrity thanks to his outspokenness on social issues and his ability to out-troll his trolls.
In Stories to Tell, Marx uses this same engaging, straight-talking style to look back on his life and career. He writes of how Kenny Rogers changed a single line of a song he’d written for him then asked for a 50% cut—which inspired Marx to write one of his biggest hits. He tells the uncanny story of how he wound up curled up on the couch of Olivia Newton-John, his childhood crush, watching Xanadu. He shares the tribulations of working with the all-female hair metal band Vixen and appearing in their video. Yet amid these entertaining celebrity encounters, Marx offers a more sobering assessment of the music business as he’s experienced it over four decades—the challenges of navigating greedy executives and grueling tour schedules, and the rewards of connecting with thousands of fans at sold-out shows that make all the drama worthwhile. He also provides an illuminating look at his songwriting process and talks honestly about how his personal life has inspired his work, including finding love with wife Daisy Fuentes and the mystery illness that recently struck him—and that doctors haven’t been able to solve.
Stories to Tell is a remarkably candid, wildly entertaining memoir about the art and business of music.
So what do I remember/know about Richard Marx (besides that awesome head of hair/glorious mullet) besides his string of late eighties pop/rock hits?
Not so much. But after reading this engrossing memoir, I sure learned a lot. From his almost idyllic mid west upbringing to how he got his first break in the music business, his 'stories to tell' sure caught my attention. This guy has a memory like an elephant! It seems he's either met or worked with almost every artist from the 80's to 90's and beyond, either when getting his start as a studio background singer, to songwriter, to launching his own career as a recording artist/producer.
The author includes bits and pieces of his personal life (about how he met his now ex-wife Cynthia Rhodes and current wife Daisy Fuentes) and also delves into stories and anecdotes about the people in the industry who have crossed his path. The list is long, but most prominent are his stories about Lionel Ritchie (who gave him his first big break), Kenny Rogers, his special friendship with Luther Vandross, and his collaboration s with Keith Urban. There were also interesting tidbits about Barbra Streisand, Madonna, and plenty of others. If he has any 'enemies' in the music industry, he didn't name them! (Well, he does seem to pissed at Brad Paisley!:) He comes across as a hardworking, talented, easy to get along with guy, who appreciates the success he's had.
If I was to nitpick about any slow parts in the book, it would be when he talks about the origins of some of the songs he's written for himself (or other artists) that I'm not familiar with. For the songs I'm familiar with, these stories are quite interesting. But for songs that weren't big hits, they didn't have the same impact for this casual fan. For a big fan, I'm sure it would be a different story.
This memoir was well written, interesting, and moved at a good pace most of the time. The first few chapters hooked me, and I had a hard time putting it down. My impression of Mr. Marx is that he's an underrated songwriter (I didn't realize all the songs for others he helped write) , and still has a passion for music. I'd recommend this memoir for anyone who remembers the great music of the 80's or just enjoys reading about the ups and downs of the music business. 4 1/2 stars
**Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me a copy of this book.
Disclaimer: I RARELY read biographies/memoirs. However, when I saw this was from one of my very favorite singers from the 80s/90s, I couldn’t resist. Unfortunately, the book was not all that I had hoped for.
PROS: The man is PROLIFIC, both in writing his own songs and also those recorded by others, and there were many interesting stories behind all of them…how they came to be, what was going on in his life at the time, the who’s who of those he’s met and worked with during his career. I learned that he has written SO many hit songs for others and considers himself foremost a songwriter even though he also enjoys his time in the spotlight on stage.
CONS: Some repetitive points throughout, and the skipping around with the timeline could be hard to follow at times.
On a personal (fan) level, I found his rare mention of his wife of 25+ years and the mother of his three children a little sad. As an actress, she was successful in her own right and gave up her career to be the primary caregiver in their home as he was on the road almost constantly. While I didn’t need or want intimate details of their marriage, leaving out that entire 25+ years of their relationship seemed a bit odd. His relationship with his current wife of 5 years (of whom he became aware in the early 90s when he bought her “sexy” calendar) is lauded as the “deepest and most rewarding” of his life. He mentions that he has always been able to “will” things/people to come to him throughout his life, and his meeting her was one of these events.
But I think what disappointed me most from this memoir is that I came away thinking of him as arrogant, and I never expected that. I give the book 3 stars because I’m sure others will enjoy, but unfortunately, I came away disillusioned about him…but never the gift of his music.
My thanks to #NetGalley and #SimonandSchuster for providing me the free early arc for review. The opinions are strictly my own.
Okay, if I'm going to be brutally honest here, I'm not a huge fan of Richard Marx, but I do like him... I mean, I can sing along to most of the singles, and he’s a great follow on Twitter. But I’ve never bought any albums or been to a concert, and if you told me I’d plow through his memoir in two days, I’d probably think you were nuts. But I did. I was stunned by the names he’s worked with, and the varied songs, albums, and projects I love that he’s been a part of. This is definitely not a tell-all memoir so don’t expect him to spill much tea (though there is a bit sprinkled in here and there), it’s more of a behind the scenes of his career and the music industry. I definitely have a new level of respect for him after reading about how hard he’s worked and how grounded he has remained. This was a surprisingly great read.
I am extremely grateful to Simon & Schuster and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review Stories to Tell.
This was an okay book, but is very surface level, doesn't explore the artist at all, more his musical career, but not his life otherwise. It felt like more of a list of all the famous people he's ever worked with.
Oh Richard Marx, why do you have such a foul mouth? You've broken my heart. And that's all I can think of now. I should have invoked the Charlie Sheen rule. So, I love love love Richard Marx, and I was delighted to start reading his memoir. But there are so many F-bombs (including the very first word in the book) and other language that I couldn't even remember what else I was reading. From what I did finish, I loved learning about all his background and songwriting work prior to being famous for singing. I've re-listened to songs that I'm familiar with without knowing he was singing in them. About halfway through I had to quit though. I feel such a relief that I don't have to read those words any more. Why can't authors realize what a distraction and a detraction that kind of language is?
Some good stories from the most egotistical celebrity writer I've ever encountered, a guy who constantly calls himself "famous" and "rock star" and includes almost nothing negative in the book about himself. It's all about the songs he wrote that became "hits," even though I'd argue that many of the songs I've never heard of and some aren't as popular as he claims. There's actually some incorrect factual information in the book as well, with all of it sounding like he's simply bragging and needs to exaggerate. And it's filled with unnecessary profanity, which comes across as a desperate attempt to seem hip.
Essentially each chapter in the book is about a song and he can get pretty specific about how he wrote them. Then he usually ties in some kind of story about how the song was recorded or something unusual that happened with the song. I have to admit, there are some pretty good stories in this book (the Taiwan mafia story is like reading a thriller) and it could have even been a 4-star read--but his big jerk attitude dilutes the impact of many chapters.
The artist side of him wants to constantly namedrop so that we're all aware that he knows many famous people. The bigger the star, the more Marx wants you to know that he's their "friend," but it's odd that he'll go many years without talking to his "friends." In a couple cases he disses some supposed friends (Kenny Loggins doesn't come off looking very good!) and the point to most stories seems to be how many celebrities he knows and how famous he has become. It gets really repetitive and boring to hear that.
He writes, "Most famous people are pretty stupid....In order to sustain their popularity they need to focus 99 percent of their energies and attention on themselves." Ah, look in the mirror, Richard. That's all you do in this book instead of writing something relatable about your real life or those you really know well.
Probably the weirdest thing in the book is that he think he has the mental ability to "will things to happen." The longtime vegan seems to follow a spirituality where it's mind-over-matter and that it isn't circumstances or providence that brings people together, it's Richard Marx deciding in his mind it's going to happen. Bizarre.
As an only child who grew up in what I'd consider an upper class home (though he tries to deny it), there's nothing normal or average about this guy. He started helping with his dad's radio jingles as a child, fell into backup singing and songwriting at 18, had what he claims are ideal flawless parents, flies all over, buys what he wants, has the perfect ex-wife, great kids, ideal current wife, always succeeds--but there's nothing about drugs, addiction, tough times, relationship issues, or struggles. Even when he stops selling records he tries to make it sound like it was his choice to switch careers. He makes it all appear easy and perfect, and after a while I just want him to act like a normal human being.
Marx's book ends up being as much bland pop with catchy hook stories as are his songs. And he's fooling himself if he thinks he was a "rock star"--he'll be remembered for being pure AC beautiful music all the way. So he needs to write a real memoir with more personal stories to tell.
I cannot express enough what a great book this was to me. I was elated that I was lucky enough to receive a copy. I have followed his career since I was younger and find joy in his music. So anyone can imagine the joy I felt in reading his book.
Richard Marx wrote about his childhood, his ongoing career in music, the songwriters he wrote with and the stories behind some of his hits. I enjoyed getting to know some of his hits that others performed like Kenny Rogers, Barbra Streisand, and Keith Urban to name a few. I also loved his stories behind some of his music. It was a moment of ha ha now I know what "Should Have Known Better" was about.
There was a touching chapter on his dad that was powerful and beautiful. It was done in a way that pulled at your emotions of a relationship between son and father. I truly believe anyone will appreciate how open he was in the chapter. Overall, this was a beautiful book that you will enjoy. Any fan of his should read this!! I received this ARC from the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for my honest review. Thank you!!!!!
FPDL | Off-Putting | My sister and I listened to Marx in the 80s, and a few years ago I stumbled across a tweet of his that was going viral, which reminded me that he existed and made me smile. I certainly wasn't interested in this book enough to pay for it, but a library read seemed worthwhile. It wasn't. First, did Simon and Schuster actually edit this book?! Sentences that change tense halfway through, bits like "seeing faces with tears running down their faces", the lack of flow, the jumping around in chronology and subject, the errors... this reads like a self-published book! The bigger issue, though, is that I don't like the person Marx presents himself as. He's so arrogant here, and it's all just a repetitive list, name-dropping all the famous people he worked with. It's the same story every time, Marx was a fan of somebody, so his belief that he would work with them magically manifested them into his life, he lists what they did and how successful it was, then moves on to the next. The only deviations are when he tells an insulting story about somebody who is now deceased and can't respond, or a few times in which he's a jerk to someone, they're a jerk to him, and he presents it as his behavior being totally acceptable and theirs being beyond the pale. A friend was cold to him once, so he cut off contact for five years, said they could go fuck themselves when they reached out, cold-shouldered them when they came to say hi, and waited for them to apologize to him?! Someone said something he didn't like in a seminar, so he publicly ripped them in an unrelated interview, they made a small joke at his expense when asked about it, and he's still holding a grudge years later and crowing about how that artist won't have the success he's had?! If he didn't want to write about anything personal, why did he agree to publish a memoir? This is so shallow, it was hard not to just skim the last 25%. Second star only because I did finish the thing.
Richard Marx hasn't been on my radar since about the early 1990s but that didn't matter as I love a good memoir and this one appeared to be worth reading, and it was. This filled almost all of my needs for a good memoir: interesting stories, candor, reports on interactions with other celebrities, and a tone that implies he is sitting in the room having a chat. I had no idea he was such a force in the world of backup singers, adding his voice to records by Lionel Richie, Kenny Rogers, Barbra Streisand, Kenny Loggins, Cher, and more. He was also a prolific songwriter, not only writing his own songs but writing or co-writing songs with many other artists including Keith Urban, Burt Bacharach, and Kenny Rogers. And I had no idea he penned the songs "This I Promise You" (NSYNC) and "To Where You Are" (Josh Groban).
If I have any quibbles, it's that I love some good dirt dished up in my memoirs/biographies and he didn't have much to offer except he thinks one country star is a douche (my word, not his) and he was pretty mum on why he and Cynthia Rhodes divorced (yes, I want to know details but also respect his tight lips). My other issue was the writing wasn't always the best and there were times he repeated something mentioned earlier, and yes, we get it, Richard, that your current wife, Daisy Fuentes, is beautiful and stunning; you don't need to tell us three times. :-)
If you are on the fence because you aren't a fan, read it anyway as you may find it as fascinating as I did. And be sure to either be ready with pen and paper (or if reading the e-book, know how to highlight passages) as you'll want to look up the songs and videos he refers to in the book.
A revelatory memoir of a most talented singer, songwriter and musician raised in a musical family who began singing at the age of five and writing songs as a teen. Richard’s stories involve a who’s who of well-known artists and the writing feels straight from the heart. I enjoy reading musician biographies and this is a good one. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
This was a really fun read. I'd vaguely remembered Richard Marx from the late 80s with huge hits like "Right Here Waiting" but didn't know about the broad scope of his career - he has written hits for everyone from Kenny Rogers to NSYNC. It was really fun to learn more about his music and I found myself looking up all his songs on YouTube as I read.
The book was a nice combination of straightforward retelling of his career highlights and lowlights (like the time a Mafia boss almost killed him and his crew in Taiwan), anecdotes about famous people he's worked with (Barbra Streisand, Madonna, Luther Vandross), a dash of his personal life (his father was a famous jingle writer who died tragically) and even some anger and bitterness over the record industry, but not too much. Thank goodness he stays away from his love life for the most part (he was married to the actress Cynthia Rhodes for 25 years, and is now married to former MTV VJ Daisy Fuentes). After suffering through Phil Collins' memoir and his embarrassing love life, I really want to only hear about an artist's art.
Marx deserves to be better remembered than his is, and hopefully this memoir will revive his legacy, because he really should to have a higher place in the music hierarchy. Now go listen to "Hazard," it's a little work of genius!
Thank you NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review.
So first I will say I knew the name, Richard Marx. I could not remember the hit songs I had heard from him on the radio so I decided to give this book a shot. Turned out, I was not disappointed. I did not know he was married to Daisy Fuentes, or that he had an illness. Once you get into the story I was thinking he would be upset about Kenny Rogers taking 50% of royalties for a song he only added a few words. But now it turned out he looked at it as if not for that he might not have gotten into the business. He wrote or co-wrote many songs that I did not know about but I had and still listen to though they are sung by other artists. He does go into the negative side of the business with agents managers and even how some push you to tour even when you are not feeling good. Also how some will take advantage of an artist for their own gain not looking out for the person they are working for or with. Overall I found this to be a very good read and one that I would read again. I received this book from Netgalley.com I gave it 5 stars.
Stories to tell “a memoir by Richard Marx was a good book. It took the reader on a journey that included his growing up and leaving home and meeting famous people along the way. He credits Lionel Richie with giving him his big break. A must read for anyone who likes memoirs
This is the best kind of memoir, full of interesting stories recounted in a manner that both flows and gets to the heart of the chapter. This book will obviously appeal to Richard Marx fans, but it will also be very well enjoyed by music lovers as well as anyone who delights in reading a fascinating memoir.
3.75⭐️ I really liked learning more about him and his song writing. Great audio book. RM was a little woowoo about the law of attraction and his ability to manifest his destiny. Kind of silly considering his father’s connections & RM’s eventual fame.
I learned a lot about how they actually record songs. This was a really good book. I cried on the chapter of him losing his dad. I know mine died a different way. Still when you lose a parent in general the pain I would assume is the same.
Richard Marx has always been someone I have loved. I was so excited to read stories about some of my all time favorite songs. Getting a behind the scenes look at what was happening in his life and going on in his head during the times they were written was fantastic. I loved learning more about him as an artist and the events that made him who he is today. The only thing that bothered me a little was that it wasn't done chronologically. I am not sure if it is me just coming to expect it not to regress, but it took away from things just a bit for me. I expected it to be a progression, but it was just stories around the same time lumped together. It was just a bit distracting, but I absolultely loved all the stories. I was young when he first came onto the scene and these things didn't interest me at the time, I am glad I can go back and learn about them now. Thank you to Netgalley, Simon and Schuster and Richard Marx for an early copy.
I've been a fan for a long time, so I'm probably a little biased with my review. If Richard Marx sang the phone book, I'd buy the album. This was a fascinating glimpse into his career and songwriting process. I started with reading the book, but after switching to the audio while out and about I mostly stuck with it as I enjoyed hearing him give voice to the stories. One thing I found especially interesting about his songwriting process was how the melodies to his songs come to him first, and he captures them with nonsense syllables until a later point in the process when he pens proper lyrics. (On the album release that goes along with the book he has included a remaster of the demo for 'Hazard', in which almost the entire song is sung in nonsense syllables. I happened to listen to it prior to reading the book and thought it was a little odd, but after reading the book it completely made sense.) Overall I loved the nostalgic walk down memory lane this gave me as he revisited the creation of so many of the songs that I have loved for a long time.
Really enjoyed this, knew next to nothing about him beyond the songs I was annoyed by. Turns out he’s a major talent with some incredible stories and connections. I love getting old! It’s very freeing.
The review I truly want to write would be filled with the gratuitous inappropriate "bad language" that Marx heaps throughout this memoir: he doesn't use it in his songs, so why fill a book with it? Yeah, the guy is talented, and connected, and "special." And he knows it. I feel sorry for his ex-wife who gets just a few kind lines, although she was no doubt running things while he was touring for months at a time. His over-the-top high school "teenage boy on hormones" gushing about his second wife had my eyes rolling. Too much info about his "mid-life crisis." He attacks Brad Paisley, but not Taylor Swift? Someone who writes songs like she's still in high school, and manipulated country music so that she could cross-over to pop? Well, yeah ... I guess I'd be afraid of those nasty"Swifties," too. I should not have read this book; I liked Marx a whole lot more before learning who this songwriter is as a human being.
Although I can clearly remember sitting in my friend's living room (we weren't allowed to watch MTV at home) the first time I saw the video for "Should've Known Better", I had never really considered myself to be a huge Richard Marx fan. I did, and still do love that song, and when I heard that he'd written a memoir, and was the narrator of the audio version, I knew I had to listen.
Marx is an incredible songwriter and what I liked most is hearing him talk about his process of writing music. (Added bonus: he occasionally sings as he's talking about the creation of a song.) Besides the hit songs he's recorded himself, he's written hits for everyone from Barbra Streisand to Kenny Rogers. From N'Sync to Vixen.
He also is extremely professional (no salacious details revealed within these pages) and incredibly witty and funny. I found the lack of *dirt* to be refreshing and quite endearing...and one of my favorite rock bios is, aptly, The Dirt.
Warning- this book will make you like him a lot less. These stories aren’t very interesting, but rather seems like he feels like he has something to prove. One of those things is that he is a “rock” artist, which I don’t think anyone can take seriously. Overall this is smug, trite, and disappointing.
I received an advance reader copy of this book from the publisher through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.
I have to admit right here at the start that I’ve never considered myself a Richard Marx fan – not that I dislike him or his music, it’s just that not long after his career began, I distanced myself from pop music during the last half of the 1980s. MTV was focusing on hair metal and rap, and I found myself drawn to classic rock and 50s/60s oldies. Over the last couple of years, Marx became more and more outspoken on Twitter concerning the political situation in the U.S. – since his positions often matched up with my own and because I had enjoyed a couple of other music-related books I’d read recently, I decided to put in a request for his memoir in Net Galley.
The first thing that struck me when reading the book was how often thing seemed to fall neatly into place for him. I had read The Secret nearly a decade ago, dedicated to the concept that envisioning the things you want in life can lead to them actually happening. Something similar seems to have been occurring for Marx throughout his life, both in terms of songwriting collaborations and in terms of his performing career. Linking closely to that is the fact that Marx constantly expresses gratitude about the great things that came his way.
Marx has a ton of interesting stories to tell about many of his songwriting collaborators. I never expected to be reading about Fee Waybill and The Tubes in this book, but Waybill is Marx’s close friend and frequent songwriting partner. After starting out as an in-demand backup singer, Marx achieved his dream of becoming a songwriter. Using the knowledge of musical production he learned through those experience, he also became a successful producer. I don’t want to slight Richard Marx’s success as performer either, since he achieved great success with his debut album and still tours today.
On last thing I noticed was how much detail he included about his songwriting style. I’m not a songwriter (though I do sometimes make up alternate lyrics to popular songs), but it sounds like it’d be a lot of fun to hang out with Marx and try writing a few songs. Especially if his wife Daisy Fuentes came along.
I gave Stories to Tell five stars on Goodreads. I learned a lot about several familiar performers of that era, and will definitely make an effort to listen to more of his music.
A few friends gave me a last minute ticket to see REO Speedwagon in concert. The opening act was Richard Marx who had just released a self-titled album with earworm "Don't Mean Nothing" --I have always had an appreciation for this guy.
In recent years, I've come to adore his witty, often sarcastic, and always spot-on tweets. Here is a candid man with no need to impress, but anecdotes galore. His book doesn't disappoint and it's quite possible he's worked with nearly everyone in the music industry in his forty years-plus career. His anecdotes are often hysterical and then there are the sweet moments he shares about second wife Daisy Fuentes. No scandalous tales though Marx recounts a mystery illness (during Covid, but NOT Covid) that gave him debilitating seizures and chills.
Wow, what an ego, and really nothing endearing or personal about himself other than how he manifested being able to work with famous people. Seems like he was able to write all of his songs with little effort. I’m sure his ex-wife and children appreciated him proclaiming his new wife as the love of his life above all others - another “manifestation” of his.
I’ve been a fan since the 80s and when I saw this book I knew I had to request it and I’m glad I did. This is an up close and personal account of how each of his most famous songs came to be, as well as his accounts of working with some of the best in the business and what life was like behind the music. I knew he was talented, obviously, but I had no idea how many famous songs he has written for other stars and with other stars! The list is endless!! One of my fav stories was of him performing at a concert and Pricilla Presley was front row and he had on an “Elvis had a stinky butt.” Tshirt that some fan had given him because everyone knows how much he loves the King. Priscilla apparently handled it like a champ and it made me chuckle. This memoir is full of interest tidbits and history of music that not only Richard Marx fans will enjoy, but music fans in general. Thanks to Simon Schuster and Netgalley for this Arc in exchange for my review.