How Richard Marx achieved improbable rock ‘n’ roll success and Twitter celebrity.
Several weeks ago, another Twitter troll attempted to attack Richard Marx.
“Richard’s pronouns are has/been,” a critic named Jake Coco tweeted.
Marx retorted quickly: “Yours are ‘has not been.'”
That exchange was typical of Marx’s detractors, who regularly emerge from the digital mud to mock his 1980s mullet and pose the question, “Where is he now?”
Marx, 57, tells The Post that his favorite is ‘washed up.’ “Whenever I am referred to as ‘washed up,’ I tweet a photo of my beach house. ‘You mean as washed up as this?’
No amount of success provides immunity from the trolls. However, as his new memoir “Stories to Tell: A Memoir” (Simon & Schuster), which will be released Tuesday, demonstrates, the singer-songwriter is having the final laugh.
He is wealthy, happily married to former MTV veejay Daisy Fuentes, and content with his place in music history, which includes 14 No. 1 singles as a solo artist and numerous others as a songwriter.
Indeed, Marx has achieved greater success than many casual fans realize, owing to his early career’s almost Forrest Gump-like ability to appear at pivotal musical moments.
Do you recall the chant from Lionel Richie’s 1983 chart-topper “All Night Long (All Night)?” Marx and two others are singing, “Tam bo li de say de moi ya.” “Hey, jambo jumbo,” he said, referring to a job he obtained as a young backup singer.
Marx approached Richie during a break in the recording and inquired about the meaning of the lyrics.
“Jambo is Swahili for ‘hello,’ ” Richie explained as he leaned in closer. “The remainder, my man… That s–t is entirely my invention.”
Marx also appears on Whitney Houston’s 1985 debut album, doubling Teddy Pendergrass’s voice on the duet “Hold Me,” which was weakened by a car accident a few months earlier.
And that is him on Barbra Streisand and Barry Gibb’s live performance of “Guilty.” Marx was hired to imitate Gibb’s voice later in the studio, singing in falsetto, “It oughta be illegal.”
Marx writes, “No one was any wiser.”
Marx, born in 1963 in Chicago, was destined for a musical career. His mother was a successful big-band singer, and his father was an accomplished jingle writer.
“I observed my father every day as he yearned to go to work,” Marx explains. “He had a demanding career, and all I recall is him dreading going to work.”
Marx realized early on that he wanted to work in music when he performed a Monkees song in front of his classmates as a young boy.
“I suppose somewhere during those brief two and a half minutes, something clicked inside me, because I never spent another second wondering what I wanted to do with my life,” he writes.
Marx began writing songs in middle school and had recorded a four-song demo by the time he was in high school.
Marx was able to get his tape in front of Lionel Richie via a friend of a friend who knew a guy. Marx was at home a few weeks later when the phone rang. It was Richie.
Marx’s songs and singing voice appealed to the singer, who was then with the Commodores.
“You cannot have a legitimate career in the music business if you remain in Chicago,” Richie advised his then-senior in high school. “Move to Los Angeles and things will begin to happen for you.”
Marx began securing gigs as a backup singer in the spring of 1981.
Marx overheard Kenny Rogers requesting additional songs for his 1984 “What About Me?” album while working on a session for him. Marx returned to his small Los Angeles apartment that night and composed “Crazy” on a Yamaha keyboard.
He mustered the courage to play it for Rogers during the following session, and the bearded superstar loved it enough to record it. It went on to become a No. 1 country hit.
Marx quickly developed an interest in pursuing a solo career, and in 1984 he assembled a new four-song demo for distribution to record labels. They all passed, with one of them asking, “Have you considered changing careers?”
Marx eventually got his music in front of a Manhattan Records executive and was quickly signed.
Marx wrote the first single, “Don’t Mean Nothing,” for his self-titled debut album while driving.
“It started with a guitar riff in my head, and then the lyrics joined the melody,” he writes.
The song became an instant radio and MTV smash.
“It was truly a case of me walking into a 7-Eleven on Tuesday with no one knowing or caring who I was, and then walking into a Los Angeles mall the next day with 50 people following me,” Marx explains. “It was such a life lesson in how quickly it happened.”
His subsequent singles, “Should’ve Known Better” and “Hold On to the Nights” — which peaked at No. 1 in 1988 — propelled him even further into stardom.
Marx was opening for REO Speedwagon and Night Ranger at the time, and as his songs climbed the charts, it became clear that crowds were flocking to see him rather than the headliners.
Marx claims that despite his meteoric rise, he never lived the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle.
“I believe it was partly to avoid disappointing my parents,” he explains. Additionally, I do not possess an addictive personality. I did not smoke a joint until I reached the age of 50.”
He was also mentioned. Marx had a long-term relationship with Cynthia Rhodes, an actress and dancer whom he met while recording a demo song for John Travolta’s 1983 film “Staying Alive.” (In 1989, the couple married and divorced in 2014.)
Marx was rarely in the tabloids throughout his career, and the closest he came to scandal was a minor on-air altercation with MTV’s Adam Curry in 1990. Marx’s low-key and stable lifestyle may have hurt his image.
“Motley Crue members and artists from that era came with legitimate stories,” Marx explains. “They were revellers and poster boys for debauchery, whereas I was neither. I wasn’t going to pretend, and what remained was uninspiring. Who wants to write about a well-adjusted man who is devoted to his work?”
Although Marx identifies as a rock artist, his public image — as well as a string of chart-topping ballads — appear to have trapped him between worlds. He wasn’t “pretty” enough for pop and wasn’t tough enough for rock, he writes.
Whatever genre he was playing, he drew a sizable audience.
His sophomore album, 1989’s “Repeat Offender,” topped the charts with over 5 million copies sold, owing in part to the chart-topping piano ballad “Right Here Waiting.”
He continued to release albums and write hits for other artists, including Luther Vandross’ Grammy-winning 2004 single “Dance With My Father” and Keith Urban’s 2007 No. 5 country hit “Everybody.”
He’s also become something of a Twitter celebrity recently, with over 300,000 followers. He is a frequent user of the social media platform, offering commentary on current events and occasionally poking gentle fun at himself. When one father tweeted that his son had just heard “Right Here Waiting,” Marx responded, “How was the rest of his dental appointment?”
“I saw Twitter as an opportunity to be amusing or self-deprecating, which has been a part of my personality for the majority of my life,” Marx explains.
Twitter has also bestowed upon him another gift: his new wife.
Marx first noticed Daisy Fuentes in the early 1990s on MTV.
“Daisy was breathtaking. Physically, she was as stunning as they come, but she possessed another quality that radiated through the television screen. She appeared to be calm,” he writes.
Fast forward to 2013, when the pair began exchanging Twitter quips. Marx eventually communicated directly with Fuentes, and the two began dating. The two tied the knot in 2015.
And, while Marx appears to have it all, he admits that it irritates him that some people, such as those Twitter trolls, continue to show him contempt.
“I will admit that I am frustrated,” he says. “However, the majority of it comes from people who are insecure. I’ve never heard a successful individual refer to another person as a ‘has been.’ The [trolls] never pause to consider what the term ‘has been’ means. Has been prosperous. Has been fruitful. Has traveled extensively throughout the world.
“They’ll say, ‘You’re not as well-known as you once were,’ ” Marx explains. “It’s as if they’re saying, ‘Yeah, so?’ ”