Don Was

Don Was
Don Was
Birth name Don Fagenson
Born September 13, 1952 (1952-09-13) (age 59)
Origin Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Genres Rock
New Wave
Occupations Musician, record producer
Instruments Bass guitar, vocals, piano
Years active 1979–present
Associated acts Was (Not Was)
Orquestra Was

Don Was (born Don Fagenson; September 13, 1952) is an American musician, bassist and record producer.


Life and career

Was was born in Detroit, Michigan. He graduated from Oak Park High School (Michigan) in the Detroit suburb of Oak Park, then attended the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor but dropped out after the first year. A journeyman musician, he grew up listening to the Detroit blues sound and the jazz music of John Coltrane and Miles Davis.

Using the stage name "Don Was", he formed the group Was (Not Was) with school friend David Weiss (David Was). The group found commercial success in the 1980s - releasing four albums and logging several hit records. A jazz/R&B album of Hank Williams covers, "Forever's A Long, Long Time" was released in 1996, under the name Orquestra Was. In 2008, Was (Not Was) reunited for an acclaimed new album and tour.

Don Was has earned his recognition as a record producer, and has recorded with an array of artists, including The Rolling Stones, Bonnie Raitt, Bob Dylan, Ziggy Marley, Bob Seger, Al Green, Garth Brooks, Ringo Starr, Iggy Pop, Lyle Lovett, Kris Kristofferson, Joe Cocker, Hootie and The Blowfish, Amos Lee and Willie Nelson to Elton John, Stevie Nicks, George Clinton, Randy Newman, The Black Crowes, Carly Simon, Travis Tritt, Brian Wilson, Jackson Browne, The Barenaked Ladies, Old Crow Medicine Show, Roy Orbison, Waylon Jennings, Jessi Colter, Richie Sambora, The Presidents of the United States of America, B.B. King, Paul Westerberg, Poison, Cheb Khaled, The B-52's, Zucchero, Todd Snider, Elizabeth Cook, Jill Sobule and Solomon Burke. He has received multiple Grammy Awards including Producer of the Year in 1995. He produced several albums for Bonnie Raitt including her Nick of Time album that won the 1990 Grammy Award for Album of the Year.

He served as music director and/or consultant for several motion pictures such as Thelma and Louise, The Rainmaker, Hope Floats, Phenomenon, Tin Cup, Honeymoon in Vegas, 8 Seconds, Switch, The Freshman, Days of Thunder, Michael, Prêt-à-Porter, Boys on the Side, Toy Story and The Paper.

In 1995, Don Was earned a Grammy Award for Producer of the Year.[1] In 1997, he directed and produced a documentary, I Just Wasn't Made for These Times, about former-Beach Boy Brian Wilson. The film debuted at the Sundance Film Festival and won the San Francisco Film Festival's Golden Gate Award. He also received the British Academy Award (BAFTA) for Best Original Score in recognition of his compositions for the film Backbeat.

Was, who is a fan of the Rolling Stones and saw them in concert when he was age 12 in 1964, worked on the remastered Rolling Stones's album Exile on Main Street that was released in May 2010. Was scoured old master recordings of the album for lost gems, remixing some songs while adding entirely new lyrics and tracks on songs.[2]

In 2009, he began hosting a weekly radio show on Sirius XM satellite radio's Outlaw Country channel called The Motor City Hayride. Was is the named Producer for a contest called,"Gimme The Gig", sponsored by Ford. He is To produce the winning band,"Perry Acker" from Gig Harbor Washington. On one of American Idol's 2011 broadcasts Was worked with contestants Haley Reinhart, Lauren Alaina, Paul McDonald, and Scotty McCreery.

Personal life

Don is the father of Eve 6 drummer Tony Fagenson and also Henry and Solomon Fagenson. He is the brother of public official Dr. Nancy Fagenson Potok, former Principal Associate Director and Chief Financial Officer of the US Census Bureau and currently Deputy Undersecretary for Economic Affairs in the Obama Administration.

Selected discography


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