Richard Marx likes to gently disturb the mind of anyone who comes to see his solo concerts.

He will start playing a Keith Urban or Lionel Ritchie song and watch to see the reaction.

“If it’s a couple, I’ll see one of them looking at the other with that face like ‘Are you kidding me. He wrote that?’”

Then hits of his career will fall: Wait here, I should have known better, mean nothing, hang on to the nights, take this heart, risk and Angelie.

“And they’ll say, ‘Oh, my God. Did he do that too? Like really? Seriously? ‘ Says Marx. “On my part, there is a subtle attempt to connect all the dots. “

If you have not yet seen Marx in concert, he offers you a written version with his new memoirs. Stories to tell, a series of anecdotes from a singer-songwriter who rubbed shoulders with – and provided songs to – musical royalty.

Kenny Rogers, Whitney Houston, Madonna, Barbra Streisand, Burt Bacharach, Nsync, Julio Iglesias, Josh Groban, Hugh Jackman, Kenny Loggins, Luther Vandross, Paul Anka, SheDaisy, Philip Bailey and James Ingram – all make appearances in the life of Marx and career.

He reveals beef with Brad Paisley, Clive Davis and Night Ranger and a crush on Olivia Newton-John.

He enhanced the sound of a Vixen song with a little sonic trickery – adding someone else’s guitar solo – and watched in horror as his band stood at gunpoint in Taipei.

“I have so much – somewhere between interesting and hilarious – that has happened in the background of my career,” he says over the phone from the Los Angeles home he shares with his wife, Daisy Fuentes.

“At the end of the day, I want people to feel the same things I want them to feel about my show – that you feel like you know me a little bit.”

This cover image published by Simon & Schuster shows ‘Stories To Tell’, a memoir by Richard Marx. Photo: Handout

A different stage

Stories to tell is ultimately the story of an extremely talented and instinctive songwriter who rode the MTV wave of fame for about a decade and then, when the heat dissipated, reinvented himself as a producer and songwriter for others.

“It was about 10 years in a row that everything that I have released has been successful. And then I released a record that I joked about with double plywood instead of double platinum, ”he says.

“It was just like a signal that everything had changed about me in my career. I remember thinking, “What did I do wrong?

He says it took him a year to grasp the change. “I started to think, ‘Well, you know what? I had a really good turn for about 10 years. And it’s not my turn now. It’s someone else’s turn.

He was still in his thirties and “still had a ton of music” in him. “I will do it with other people,” he concluded. This change also allowed him to be a very present father to his three sons.

During his career, Marx had 14 No. 1 songs as a writer – one in each of four different decades.

Him and Vandross’ Dance with my father won the 2004 Grammy for Song of the Year.

He has written or performed hits on the Country, Adult Contemporary, Mainstream Rock, Vacation, and Billboard Pop charts.

Initially a versatile background singer, he had his great luck when Lionel Richie heard a cassette of his songs and invited Marx to help him with his solo albums.

You can hear a teenage Marx on hits such as All night long and Running with the night. This led to him writing songs with Rogers and then writing or singing for a host of stars before the release of Marx’s eponymous debut album in 1987, which would go double platinum.

Richard Marx sings his hits during a free concert hosted by SP Setia at the Taman Setia Tropika in Johor Baru on February 24, 2013. Photo: FilepicRichard Marx sings his hits during a free concert hosted by SP Setia at the Taman Setia Tropika in Johor Baru on February 24, 2013. Photo: Filepic

Attract and befriend superstars

The book’s publication is set for the release of a two-disc companion album featuring remastered versions of his greatest hits as well as demos, live tracks and new interpretations of songs he wrote for other artists. .

Throughout the book, Marx is convinced that he has an almost mystical ability to attract and befriend superstars, which first happened at the age of five when he met Davy Jones of the Monkees.

As he writes, “I have always had the ability to lead people in my path.

Readers receive many stories about Marx’s collaborators and how he comes up with songs from a man who avoided an embarrassing and self-destructive scandal.

“He hasn’t lived a life that deserves VH1 Behind the music. It’s been pretty balanced, ”said Sean Manning, its editor at Simon & Schuster.

“But I think he’s a master craftsman. That’s what really intrigued me – how he does what he does.

In recent years, Marx has become a social media phenomenon, enchanting fans by wittily retaliating against trolls and intolerance. In June, when a guy took to Twitter to tell Marx his pronouns should be ‘has / been’, Marx actually agreed: ‘I started writing hit songs at the age of ten- nine years and the money “a” has been pouring in ever since. “

It was his humor, fearlessness, authenticity and self-awareness that led Manning to reach out to Marx just as the pandemic gripped the nation.

Fortunately, Marx had already written a few pages, based on the anecdotes he offers on stage.

“He’s the first one who’s going to laugh at himself,” Manning said. “He doesn’t wait for someone to do it.

“And I think that’s where you relate to him.” He doesn’t take himself that seriously, which I found incredibly refreshing.

Readers of Stories to tell will find a softer style than her sharp elbow Twitter tone. He says he’s a private person and that he was never going to write a revealing book with inflammatory details.

“On Twitter, if I’m dealing with a racist or fanatic issue, there’s no holding back. I’ll blow it up. And if someone comes after me, I’ll respond as you can see, ”he said.

But a book is another matter: “They are just two completely different animals.

Marx in real life comes across as that unusual creature in the music world – grounded, fair, and happy. He’s a Midwestern guy who quickly thanks his parents and people early in his life for not allowing him out otherwise.

Finally, he is asked if he can pick one thing to take away from the book. “That I’m taller than they think,” he laughs. “But the answer is actually gratitude.” – AP