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Mark Heard

Americana / Folk / Rock
Glendale, California, USA

John Mark Heard III (December 16, 1951 – August 16, 1992) was an American record producer, folk rock singer, and songwriter originally from Macon, Georgia, United States. Heard released 16 albums, and produced and performed with many other artists as well, such as Sam Phillips (a.k.a. Leslie Phillips), Pierce Pettis, Phil Keaggy, Vigilantes of Love, Peter Buck of R.E.M. (who co-produced VOL's album Killing Floor with Heard), John Austin, The Choir, Randy Stonehill, and Michael Been of The Call. Heard produced part of Olivia Newton-John's The Rumor, which also included a cover of Heard's own “Big and Strong” (originally called “How to Grow Up Big and Strong”).

After graduating from the University of Georgia in 1974 with an ABJ (Bachelor of Arts in Journalism) degree in television, Heard traveled to Switzerland to study at L'Abri under the influential evangelical Christian philosopher Francis Schaeffer. Singers Larry Norman and Randy Stonehill stumbled onto Mark one day playing his guitar. Because Norman and Stonehill expressed interest, Heard spent most of his spare time the next two months putting together a demo tape in a local studio with the help of the Pat Terry group (Pat Terry, Sonny Lallerstedt, and Randy Bugg). Norman was so impressed by Heard's abilities that he soon signed him to his record label, Solid Rock Records. Heard and his wife Janet moved to Glendale, California in 1977 to begin work on his Appalachian Melody album for the label, but would also maintain a close relationship with the people at the L'Abri for years. Heard would also record and release Fingerprint on a Swiss label in 1980.

In 1981, Heard began a recording contract with Chris Christian's Home Sweet Home Records. Although Mark's sales did not attract attention from the major Christian labels, Christian felt Mark's music was unique and fresh and deserved to be heard and funded his projects with no production oversight, which is what Mark wanted. His signing to the label was a departure from the commercial artists that Chris traditionally signed and produced on the Home Sweet Home label. Heard released five albums for the label; 1981's Stop the Dominoes, 1982's Victims of the Age; 1983's Eye of the Storm; 1984's Ashes and Light; and 1985's Mosaics. The overall experience was not one that Heard enjoyed, partly due to his personal experiences with record company executives, and partly due to compromises he felt under pressure to make in order to make himself and his songs more marketable to Christian audiences. In 1984, Heard began recording in his home studio, which he dubbed “Fingerprint Recorders,” after the title of one of his earlier records. From that point on, his albums were largely made at home, with just a handful of friends and relatives lending a hand. In 1986, Heard decided to try something a little different and recorded the experimental Pop/Rock album for What? Records entitled Tribal Opera, under the name iDEoLA. When asked about the unusual name, Heard replied “It's not supposed to be mysterious or anything; I just put a band together and right now I happen to be the only one in it.” Heard also directed a music video for the single of that album, “Is It Any Wonder”.

With assistance from Dan Russell and Chuck Long, Fingerprint Records and studio were born. Heard began to produce albums for a number of artists including two albums for Randy Stonehill, Jacob’s Trouble, Pierce Pettis, The Lucky Stiffs, and 1992's Vigilantes of Love album, Killing Floor, which he co-produced with R.E.M.'s Peter Buck. Stonehill's Until We Have Wings includes a song co-written by Heard, “Faithful”, although the CD liner notes credit the song to Heard's pseudonym, Giovanni Audiori. In 1988 Heard collaborated with Randy Stonehill and other well known artists on Phil Keaggy and Sunday's Child. In addition to writing and performing credits, he helped with the engineering.

The early 1990s saw a return to recording albums of his own, with 1990's Dry Bones Dance. Fans and reviewers alike hailed the new release as one of the best of his career. Heard followed Dry Bones Dance with Second Hand in 1991, and, finally, Satellite Sky in 1992, which would turn out to be his final release.

On July 4, 1992, Heard had a heart attack on stage while performing with Pierce Pettis and Kate Miner at the Cornerstone Festival in Bushnell, IL, near Peoria. Heard finished his set and went to the hospital immediately afterwards. Two weeks after being released from the hospital, Heard went into cardiac arrest and died on August 16 of 1992. Before Heard's death, he had been included on the Legacy II sampler from Windham Hill's High Street label, and was nearly finalizing a mainstream contract with Bruce Cockburn's label, True North Records in Canada. There was also interest from Sony's Columbia Records label for distribution in the US.

Discography

1970 Infinity+3 Setting Yesterday Free Spirit Records
1975 Mark Heard Mark Heard Airborn Records
1978 Mark Heard On Turning to Dust [re-issue] AB Records
1979 Mark Heard Appalachian Melody Solid Rock Records
1980 Mark Heard Fingerprint King's / Palmfrond Records
1981 Mark Heard Stop the Dominoes Home Sweet Home Records
1982 Mark Heard Victims of the Age Home Sweet Home Records
1983 Mark Heard Eye of the Storm Home Sweet Home Records
1984 Mark Heard Ashes and Light Home Sweet Home Records
1985 Mark Heard Mosaics Home Sweet Home Records
1987 iDEoLA Tribal Opera What? Records
1989? Mark Heard Demo Stuff
1990 Mark Heard Dry Bones Dance Fingerprint Records
1991 Mark Heard Second Hand Fingerprint Records
1992 Mark Heard Satellite Sky Fingerprint Records

Demo Stuff

1989? Independent

Mark Heard – Vocals, guitars, other instruments?
(others?)

  1. Lonely Road
  2. House of Broken Dreams
  3. Nobody’s Looking
  4. All She Wanted Was Love
  5. Look Over Your Shoulder
  6. It Will Rise
  7. Our Restless Hearts