Today is the birthday of Bruce Hornsby, born in 1954 in Richmond, Virginia.
Hornsby is best known for his 1986 hit "The Way It Is" and for filling in as the Grateful Dead's keyboardist when Brent Mydland died in 1990. Before launching a successful career as a diversely talented pianist and vocalist with a warm, unique style, Hornsby dreamed of a career as a professional basketball player. His stint at Boston's Berklee College of Music, however, permanently sidetracked the aspiring hoops star. After graduation, Hornsby moved to Los Angeles where he, along with his brothers, worked as contract writers for 20th-Century Fox as well as penning lyrics for Hornsby's future albums. Hornsby played piano and toured with Sheena Easton's band, but by 1984 his own band, the Range, was ready to be signed.
In 1986 The Way It Is was released to resounding commercial and critical acclaim. The album's title track single went to #1, and its follow-up, "Mandolin Rain," landed at #4. The group picked up a Grammy for Best New Artist and then released 1988's Scenes from the Southside, an album which reached #5 on the pop charts, as did the single "The Valley Road." 1990 brought the release of Hornsby's last album with the Range, the #20 charting A Night on the Town. Later that year, Hornsby began filling in for dearly-departed Grateful Dead keyboardist Brent Mydland and popped up on albums by such artists as Bob Dylan, Robbie Robertson, Bonnie Raitt and Squeeze. Hornsby's 1993 solo album Harbor Lights hit #46 on the charts and featured appearances by Branford Marsalis, Pat Metheny, Phil Collins and Jerry Garcia. Another album filled with guest appearances, Hot House, was released in 1995. Hornsby's sixth album, tentatively titled Spirit Trail, is scheduled for an early 1998 release.
Other birthdays: Betty Everett, 58 and Freddie Marsden (Gerry & The Pacemakers), 57.