Roger O'Donnell (born October 29,
1955) is an English keyboardist best known for his work with bands; The Cure, Psychedelic Furs, the Thompson
Twins and Berlin.
O'Donnell was born into a musical family, next to the piano in his parents' London home according to interviews.
Given his birthplace, playing music seem natural from birth and his parents and brother encouraged him in this pursuit. O'Donnell
left Art School to pursue a career as a professional musician, with his first paying gig coming in 1976, at Oxford
Town Hall backing legendary British pop icon Arthur Brown.
In the early 1980s while with The Thompson Twins,
Berlin, and The Psychedelic Furs, O'Donnell was a big fan of synthesisers produced by
Sequential Circuits, which produced such classics as the Prophet 5, Prophet T8, and
Prophet VS. While on tour with The Psychedelic
Furs, O'Donnell set the record for having the most Sequential models onstage at one time.
TENURE WITH THE CURE
O'Donnell first joined The Cure in 1987, replacing Lol Tolhurst on keyboards, after being long time friends with
the drummer Boris Williams. With O'Donnell on keyboards, this permitted Porl Thompson to focus on guitar fulltime, instead of assisting Tolhurst on keyboards for many of the songs. His songwriting
contributions can be heard on the album Disintegration notably the song "Untitled" and "Fear of Ghosts," which is the B-Side to the hit single "Lovesong."
Following the band's Prayer Tour in 1989, tensions intensified between the band members. O'Donnell
left the band temporarily in 1990 due to a difference of opinion with some of the other members, but then rejoined in 1995.
He helped record several studio albums, including Disintegration, Wild Mood Swings, Bloodflowers, and The Cure. He also appears on the live album Entreat as well as Trilogy. Some of his best keyboard performances can
be heard on the songs "Homesick", off Disintegration, "Out of This World" and "The Last Day of Summer" off Bloodflowers.
Even though he co-wrote only one album with the Gallup/Smith/Thompson/Williams lineup, he is considered the keyboardist of the band during that period having been the only member
of the band where piano/keyboards were his primary instrument, unlike Laurence Tolhurst and Perry Bamonte who moved to keyboards from other instruments, and back again in Perry's case.
Further friction and exodus
In 2004, there were rumours that O'Donnell was unhappy with the band and was planning to quit. In particular,
O'Donnell did have big problems with the band, notably not getting along with The Cure's producer Ross
Robinson. When O'Donnell started working on his solo album The Truth In Me in early 2005,
he revealed he had no plans on leaving. However, shortly after in May, Robert Smith decided to reconfigure The Cure as a trio, without O'Donnell
and Perry Bamonte. Smith apparently felt that they were on too different
philosophies to continue to work together and fired O'Donnell over email.
O'Donnell has his own label "99 Times Out of 10" or "99X/10" for short, and is assisting on Erin Lang's musical works. The Truth In Me, an all-instrumental album was scheduled for release on May 16 2006, following many delays. Additionally, he has provided exposure
to young, underground musicians through his label sampler. The sampler
was released during the latter half of 2005 and made available through his website.
In April 2006, whilst in discussion with Label and Artist management group Worlds Fair, O'Donnell was
offered a record deal with release through their new label Great Society and Warner Brothers distribution and marketing. The album --- scheduled for release on October 24, 2006 in the US ---
is slated for worldwide release in 2007.
Grey Clouds, Red Sky (previously unreleased instrumental solo album recorded in 1994. A remastered, limited
edition saw release in early 2005; each copy was autographed by O'Donnell)
The Truth In Me (2006, solo album)
Moog Soundtrack (O'Donnell contributed a song to the film
score for 2004's Moog, created exclusively
with the Minimoog Voyager).
O'Donnell is credited as the keyboardist on the following recordings:
O'Donnell appeared in only one official Thompson Twins music video, but it was made quite some time after he had left the group in the summer of 1986. The Thompson Twins became
a duo (following the departure of Joe Leeway) had recorded a song for
the film Nothing in Common starring Tom Hanks and featuring the
last ever performance by Jackie Gleason. The video for the song of the
same name as the movie was shot on location in Chicago, with Hanks making
a cameo appearance playing drums. O'Donnell appeared playing the keyboards.