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About Gary Marks

For a songwriter with such a distinct sound and style, Gary Marks has been able to succeed in many different musical genres throughout his four decade career.

In the '70's Marks enjoyed success as both a folk and jazz artist. In the '80's and '90's he became known as one of the most unique and sophisticated rock songwriters in the San Francisco Bay Area. 

Since 1973 Marks has released eleven critically acclaimed recordings. He has also written and published twenty novels and non-fiction books on various subjects since 1988.

Gary’s first recording from 1973, Gathering, featured John Scofield and many other future jazz greats. It was re-released as "a folk-rock-jazz classic" in Europe in 2007, and was re-released again in Japan and Asia in 2011.

Gary’s second and third albums, Upon Oanda's Wing (1977), and Thoughts of Why (1978), were re-released in Japan and Asia in 2012 and 2013.

Starting in the 1980s, Marks began writing rock, using both rock and jazz players on his recordings. His recordings were released on various labels. His songs were published by Arista, and later, Famous Music Paramount.

(All of Gary Marks’ recordings are available on iTunes.) 


Gary Marks was born in Manhattan, N.Y. in 1950. His mother was a classical violinist who performed solo at Carnegie Hall at the age of ten. But his mom also loved R&B, rock, folk, jazz, and Motown. . . .Ray Charles, the Beatles, Dylan's first recordings, John Coltrane, and The Supremes were the sounds that resonated through his house as a young boy.

In 1973, Marks self-produced Gathering after being offered free recording time at Ultra Sonic Studios in New York. He was accompanied by his band of future jazz greats, including guitarist John Scofield, pianist Michael Cochrane, and vibraphonist David Samuels. The LP was distributed internationally by J.C.O.A. (Jazz Composers’ Organization of America). He toured the US and Europe before settling down in California in 1976.

During this time, Gary introduced Scofield and Samuels to three other brilliant musicians that he had met on the West Coast: Art Lande, Mark Isham, and Paul McCandless, of the group, Oregon. They were soon playing on Marks’ new recordings, Upon Oanda's Wing (1977), and Thoughts of Why (1978).

Michael Cochrane playing with Gary, 1973

Michael Cochrane playing with Gary, 1973

John Scofield playing with Gary, 1973

John Scofield playing with Gary, 1973

Gary and Art Lande rehearsing for Santa Barbara Opera House, 1976

Gary and Art Lande rehearsing for Santa Barbara Opera House, 1976

. . . A flow chart of ‘Upon Oanda’s Wing’ might closely resemble some of Milton Nasciemento’s EMI albums, which still serve as a paragon for anyone trying to be equally convincing across the board, from tight vocals and arrangements, to wide open instrumental playing.
— W. Patrick Hinely, Jazz Magazine
Paul McCandless playing with Gary, 1976

Paul McCandless playing with Gary, 1976


In 1985, Gary’s music took a dramatic stylistic change. His fourth major album release, Past the Nightwatch, gathered together some of the best rock players in the San Francisco Bay Area. The song, Only Time Can Tell, was recorded by Teresa Trull, on her album, A Step Away, receiving international airplay.

 
Marks shows a knack for combining a catchy and memorable song with mature and often brilliant lyrics about love, relationships, and finding a place in the world. . .always a rare thing in the world of commercial music.
— Larry Kelp, Oakland Tribune, reviewing Past the Nightwatch.
Teresa Trull and Gary, Great American Music Hall

Teresa Trull and Gary, Great American Music Hall


Gary's follow-up album in 1988, The Real World, brought him further commercial success as a songwriter. Cris Williamson and Teresa Trull recorded three songs from “The Real World” on their duo album, "Country Blessed."

Joining Marks on back-up harmonies were Bonnie Hayes, Teresa Trull, and Vicki Randall. Stef Burns played electric guitar. Burns eventually went on to work with the Alice Cooper Band and Narada Michael Walden. Marks arranged and programmed the drum parts.

. . . Superb song craft. . . keen arrangements. If familiar reference points are Steve Winwood and Bruce Hornsby, Marks demonstrates as much care to the architecture of a song as those two certified platinum stars did on their most recent outings. Each song is intelligent, exceptional . . .
— Derk Richardson, BAM (Bay Area Music Magazine) reviewing The Real World.

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Also in 1988, Marks published his first novel, The Dance and the Diamond Sky, which used the late '60's as a backdrop for current social and political issues.

The Dance and the Diamond Sky was re-published on Amazon in 2018.

An amazing book, beautifully written, about a critical time in our country’s history. Though this coming of age tale is about a time decades removed, ‘The Dance and the Diamond Sky’ generates wisdom that directly reflects upon the internal and external struggles we face today. There are no cliches here. There is humor, plenty of drama, and a great ending. A story that needed to be written finally was. . . .
— Sherry Robb, Robb Literary, Los Angeles

Gary's next recording, If All They Said Was True, was released in 1994, and introduced nine new songs.

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Rehearsing for  If All They Said Was True  in Gary’s Studio

Rehearsing for If All They Said Was True in Gary’s Studio

Marks is a meticulous craftsman, injecting his modern rock sound with interesting harmonic subtleties and powerful lyrics.
— San Francisco Bay Guardian , 18th annual "Best of San Francisco" edition, 1996

(T)here

Marks continued producing recordings without touring and eventually stopped performing locally.

In 1999, he released, Bountiful, followed by an unplugged release of the songs on Bountiful, called, Self-Portraits.

In 2007 Gary released, A Whisper Can Change the World, mixed by Jim Scott in LA. He also began writing and publishing novels at a rapid pace.

In 2010 Marks released, From Here, mixed by Mark Needham in LA.

In 2013, Marks' new rock CD, No Turning Back, was released world-wide. And his third album from 1977, Thoughts of Why, was re-released in Asia by Stella Records. He also signed a publishing deal with Stella records for all songs world-wide.

Novels

In 2016, Gary was extraordinarily prolific, writing four novels.

In 2018 Gary published a new novel, From the Farthest Places.

In 2019 Gary published three new novels, (T)here, Lilly’s Last Words, and a nonfiction work, The Book of Is.


Currently:

Gary Marks lives in Maui, Hawaii, with his wife, Theresa. They have three children.

Gary's daughter, Skylar, is a singer / songwriter who has recorded and released five recordings of original music, and has become an award-winning photographer (follow her Instagram photos @skylarindasky). Also see Skylar's music and photography website: skylarmarks.com

Gary's daughter, Annabel, is a singer / songwriter who has recorded and released three recordings of original music.

Skylar's and Annabel's original songs can be heard on iTunes and Spotify.

Gary’s teenage son, Shawn, is angling to be the drummer on Gary's next record, and is making a good case for himself.

In 2019, Gary Marks continues to write songs and novels for various upcoming projects in Europe and the U.S.