Chris Stamey - Biography

Both as a member of several bands (including The dB's, Sneakers, Rittenhouse Square and Little Diesel) and as a producer, label owner, frequent musical collaborator; Chris Stamey is a key figure in America's jangle-pop history and power-pop scenes.


Christopher Charles Stamey was born on December 6th, 1954 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. When he was nine, he showed early interest in recording technology, fooling around with a mono Sony reel-to-reel. He later picked up bass, cello, and guitar, the latter of which he played in several high school bands. He also learned the basics of recording at a basement four-track studio in Winston-Salem, with Mitch Easter and Peter Holsapple. Around 1971, the three formed a band, Rittenhouse Square, with drummer Bobby Locke. They released one eponymous album.


In 1975, Stamey enrolled at UNC Chapel Hill where he studied composition and music theory with Roger Hannay while assisting producer Don Dixon with various recording projects on the side. That year he also formed the power-pop act Sneakers with Easter, bassist Robert Keely, drummer Will Rigby and guitarist Rob Slater. They self-released their only album and travelled to New York to play Max's Kansas City before breaking up. In 1977, Stamey played with Alex Chilton who in turn produced Stamey's solo debut, the single "Summer Sun" b/w "Where the Fun Is" for Ork. Stamey also started Car Records, which released Chris Bell's "I Am the Cosmos," b/w "You and Your Sister" the following year. 


After Rigby and bassist Gene Holder settled in New York, Stamey joined them as The dBs, who released the 1978 single "If and When" before they were joined by Holsapple. Though critically acclaimed, The dBs' first two records were initially only released in the UK. Stamey left the band in 1983 and released his debut solo record, Wonderful Life (1983 DB). The Instant Excitement EP (1984 Coyote Records) followed a year later. In 1986, he recorded and toured as part of The Golden Palominos before releasing the Christmas Time (1986 ESD) in time for the holidays, credited to The Chris Stamey Group. 


Stamey signed with A&M in 1987 and released his most straightforward album, It's Alright (1987 A&M). The following year, he recorded a follow-up with Easter, Graham Maby (Joe Jackson Band), Anton Fier (Feelies), Terry Adams (NRBQ), Peter Buck (R.E.M.) and Holsapple. The results were rejected by which A&M, only to surface four years later as Fireworks (1991 RNA). The same year Stamey released a collection of new songs, Mavericks (1991 New Rose Records). In 1993, he returned to Chapel Hill. His next album teamed him with cornetist/guitarist Kirk Ross for the improvisational The Robust Beauty of Improper Linear Models in Decision Making (1995 ESD). 


Stamey resumed production work after founding Modern Recording in 1996. It wasn't until 2004 when he returned to releasing his own material. His solo album, Travels in the South (2004 Yep Roc), was followed by a collaboration with Yo La Tengo made up primarily of covers and remakes of Stamey's earlier recording. The fast and loose V.O.T.E. (2004 Yep Roc) was re-shuffled and re-released three months later as The Chris Stamey Experience's A Question of Temperature (2005 Yep Roc). An instrumental version of Travels in the South, The Speed of Sound - Music without Words from Travels in the South (2005 Yep Roc), followed. In 2009, Stamey and his frequent collaborator, Holsapple, released hERE aND nOW (2009 Bar/None Records).

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