Gerard McMahon (aka Gerard McMann and G Tom Mac) (born Gerard Thomas MacMahon, of Irish/English parentage, in Birmingham, England) is an English singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer who specialises in creating music for films and TV. McMahon is also the founder member of the band G TOM MAC.
Whilst McMahon has undertaken many different musical projects throughout his career, he is probably still best known by many for the gothic rock anthem "Cry Little Sister", a song which he recorded in 1987 for the soundtrack album of the cult horror film The Lost Boys.
The early years:
Gerard McMahon, who lists amongst his musical influences Liam Mullen, John Lennon, Stevie Wonder and Stravinsky, emigrated with his family from England to America when he was 11 years of age. Initially moving to New York City, a few years later the MacMahons moved again, eventually settling in Wichita, Kansas.
"When I was there I started learning guitar and the bass, and realising I had a voice, I started a band which played in clubs all over the Midwest"
McMahon was only 16 years of age at the time. Despite his young age, McMahon, together with his band, The Strangers, recorded one single before disbanding.
After The Strangers disbanded, McMahon moved to Boulder, Colorado and took a job arranging classes at the University.
In 1971 however, McMahon moved to New York to pursue a performing career. His first gigs were playing bass and guitar in R&B bands in Harlem. However, being a versatile multi-instrumentalist, McMahon was soon receiving additional offers of work as a session musician. It was in this capacity that he provided backing vocals at Electric Lady Studios in New York, on the last Zephyr album to feature wunderkind guitarist Tommy Bolin - Going Back to Colorado.
In addition to gigging and studio session work, McMahon also became involved around this time in creating music for TV commercials. He also created a number of scores for Public Broadcasting Service projects.
McMahon spent 1972 living in Los Angeles, where his experience of studio and production work quickly established him a well-respected member of the city's music scene. Soon he was to be found playing bass with Jackson Browne's touring band. It wasn't too long however before McMahon concluded that it would be more rewarding to promote his own solo career and headed back to Colorado.
After returning to Boulder, McMahon got together with a group of ten studio musicians and fronted what was to become one of the most popular rock bands in Colorado at the time - Gerard.
"After attending a concert one evening that showcased Tommy Bolin, Chicago producer Jim Guercio walked out mesmerized by Gerard's opening set"
--G.Brown, author, Colorado Rocks!: A Half-Century of Music in Colorado
Having much admiration for McMahon and his band, Guercio offered the band a deal to record an album at his newly built Caribou Ranch, a popular recording studio subsequently favoured by many prominent artists.
"Next thing I knew, we were moving to Nederland to record an album. Jimmy owned a smaller ranch nearby called Forest Lakes, so he let us live there. It had a couple cabins, a dining hall, and a building we turned into a rehearsal room."
--Tom Likes, Gerard
The resultant album, produced by Guercio himself, was the appropriately titled Gerard. It was released in 1976 on Guercio's Caribou Records label. There did, however, seem to be one downside to this union, seemingly echoed in McMahon's frustration with the music press at that time, in so far as every review of Gerard's album, an album for which he had written twelve original songs, compared his music to that of Chicago's. Although the album did well, it never broke nationally. The lead-off single, "Hello Operator" (b/w "Who's Your Daddy-O?"), failed to hit Billboard's Hot 100 chart, getting as high as No. 109 on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 chart. The second single, "Good Yankee Boy", was released as a promo-only single, and garnered only moderate radio airplay in 1976. A second Gerard album was to follow (?), Row, before the group disbanded. After which McMahon decided to return to Los Angeles.
The next three years saw McMahon again partaking in a number of different musical projects and continuing to lend his services as a session musician. One of the projects he undertook at that time was to play keyboards on ex-Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's Jimmy Ibbotson 1977 Nitty Gritty Ibbotson album. He is also listed amongst the credits for Max Gronenthal's 1979 album Whistling in the Dark.
1980 - 1999:
McMahon's song Is That You was the first track on Kiss' Unmasked (1980).
Encouraged by Billy Joel's former manager Irwin Mazur, in 1980 McMahon decided to promote his own recording career. He assembled a group of accomplished musicians - Gary Mallaber, John Massaro, Kenny Lewis and two of the musicians he had engaged for Gerard, guitarist Steve Sykes and keyboard player Al Campbell - collectively called Kid Lightning, returned to the studio and recorded the album Blue Rue. After the album was completed, McMahon's band was dropped from Columbia Records.
Invited to Los Angeles by Warner Bros. for a showcase, McMahon quickly impressed Hollywood's film elite - David Geffen, Joel Schumacher, Cameron Crowe, Jerry Bruckheimer. Already experienced in major TV commercials, McMahon began film work. McMahon wrote and recorded seven songs for film producer Jerry Bruckheimer's film Defiance.
"Gerard's a triple threat, he's a writer, he's a producer and he's a performer...it's very difficult to find someone to deliver all that"
--Nigel Sinclair, Producer - Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
McMahon is known to have said that writing songs for films and TV shows was a "great new creative outlet"
During the '80s, McMahon wrote songs for such films as Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Spring Break, All the Right Moves, The Lonely Guy, Grandview, USA and Hardbodies, among others.
McMahon's next album, No Looking Back was released by Warner Bros. in 1983, after which McMahon signed with the Atlantic Records label and in 1986 released Foreign Papers.
McMahon scored a hit in 1986 with "Cry Little Sister".
"Cry Little Sister":
G TOM MAC:
McMahon recorded another album 2000 for Edge Artists. To record and promote the album, McMahon formed a new band, G TOM MAC, with bassist, songwriter and co-producer Anthony Silver.
McMahon and Silver added Rodney "Cortada" Alejandro on keyboards, drummer Rob Ladd (from the band The Pressure Boys), Willy Aron (lead guitar) and Brie Darling (from the band Boxing Gandhis) on backing vocals and percussion for live performances.
In 2004 McMahon wrote the music and Eddie Kislinger wrote the lyrics for "Wicked Town", "Drop Dead Pretty", and "Was It Magic" for "Witchblade The Music", an Edge Artists soundtrack of songs from or inspired by the "Witchblade" TV series. McMahon and Kislinger are credited as Executive Producers. In 2012 the CW used "Wicked Town" in its trailer promoting "The Arrow" TV series. Edge Artists posted McMahon's performance of "Wicked Town" and "Was It Magic" on YouTube.
The band planned a 2008 tour to promote their second album, Thou Shalt Not Fall (2007).
McMahon continues to be involved in a number of other musical projects, plus film and TV work.
Since McMahon has been known under a number of different names, much confusion has arisen over the years about his identity.
The first pseudonym McMahon adopted, 'Gerard McMann', was just prior to the release of his album Foreign Papers in 1986. Of this he is reported to have said:
"When I would go out and do interviews on the radio or TV, it seems everybody was pronouncing my name in many different ways, except the correct way. So I thought it would make more sense to spell it out the way that is it pronounced."
"Cry Little Sister", the song McMahon performed in 1987 for the soundtrack of the film The Lost Boys was therefore credited to Gerard McMann.
When his father died, he reverted to McMahon.
However, since forming G Tom Mac, "Gerard Thomas MacMahon" (the correct Irish spelling of McMahon) has become known to his new audience as 'G Tom Mac'. He is also known to use this name professionally. Consequently most of the writing and performance credits since G Tom Mac was formed in 2000 are often to be found listed under this name.
McMahon is sometimes also referred to as "G", a nickname given to him by his friend Roger Daltrey.
McMahon's multi faceted talents, his diversity in music and songwriting continue to be recognised by other artists throughout the music industry. The following are just a few of the many artists not mentioned elsewhere in this article who are also known to have recorded his songs:
McMahon contributed greatly to The Who's lead singer Roger Daltrey's 1992 solo album Rocks in the Head. In addition to co-writing 10 of the 11 songs, McMahon also produced the album for Daltrey. He was also the primary backing musician, providing backing vocals, keyboards and guitar. He is further credited on the album with musical direction.
McMahon co-wrote the hit single "Give Me All Night" with Carly Simon, which peaked at No. 5 in the charts and appears on her Coming Around Again album (1987).
McMahon co-wrote "What Does It Take", "One from the Heart" and "Only Time Can Heal the Wounded" which appear on Chicago's Twenty 1 album (1991). McMahon also co-wrote "I Stand Up", the b-side to the single "I Don't Wanna Live Without Your Love", which peaked at No. 3 in the billboard charts in June 1988. "I Stand Up" appears on Chicago's Chicago 19 album (1988).
McMahon wrote the hit single "Bad Times" which appears on Tavares' Supercharged album (1980). (This was also the theme song for the film Defiance).
McMahon wrote "Life In Motion" which appears on the collaborative Beckley-Lamm-Wilson album Like A Brother (2000) (being the last album recorded by Carl Wilson before his death). McMahon also co-wrote "Ain't No Ordinary Thing" and "In This Country" for Lamm's Life Is Good in My Neighborhood album (1995) and "The Love You Call Your Own" for Lamm's In My Head album (1999).
McMahon wrote "Put Us Together Again" which was released as a single by The Spinners in 1985.
McMahon co-wrote "The Other Girlfriend" which appears on Snow's Natural Wonder album (2003). He also wrote "Right to the End", which she performed with Michael McDonald for her I Can't Complain album (1998).
McMahon co-wrote "Wake Up the House" which appears on Shepard's The Radical Light album (1992).
The Digable Planets sampled McMahon's song "Bad Times" on their "Dial 7 (Axion of Creamy Spies)" single. The song peaked at No. 32 in the Hot Rap Singles charts and appears on the Digable Planets' Blowout Comb album (1994).
The Temptations also decided to cover McMahon's song "Put Us Together Again", previously released as a single by The Spinners. The Temptations' version appears on the To Be Continued... album (1986).
McMahon wrote and produced "Right to the End" for Reid's The Driver album (1991).
McMahon wrote "Love You Too Much" which appears on Bofill's Too Tough album (1983).
McMahon co-wrote and produced "Living Every Day Now" which appears on Harrison's The Optimist album (2007).
McMahon wrote "True to You" which appears on Spector's Unfinished Business album (1987).