Keith Forsey

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About Keith Forsey

The man who made punk bankable and took a little-known Scottish new wave band to number one on the U.S. charts also helped to define disco music, the antithesis of underground and alternative rock. Born in January 1948 in London, England, Oscar-winning producer Keith Forsey began his career as a drummer in mid '60s. By the early '70s, he was contributing his skills as a percussionist to Krautrock artists like Roy Fleming and Amon Düül II. In the late '70s, Forsey became one of disco's pioneers, working with dance artists like Lipstique and Claudja Barry. More importantly, he was legendary disco producer Giorgio Moroder's drummer and appeared on Donna Summer's groundbreaking club records, including the 1979 classic Bad Girls. Less remembered is his own band, Trax, essentially a collaboration with Pete Bellotte that spawned two LPs, 1977's Watch Out and 1978's Dancing in the Street. Moroder's influence on Forsey became increasingly obvious as he further experimented with electronics and European dance rhythms. Like Moroder, he started producing albums himself. In 1982, Forsey produced Billy Idol's self-titled solo debut. Although it wasn't the first time Forsey was involved with Idol -- Generation X marked the beginning of their longtime partnership -- Billy Idol was a revolutionary disc, giving punk enough studio gloss to make the genre palatable to mainstream FM rock radio without sacrificing any of its punch. Idol's 1983 follow-up, Rebel Yell, went even further, combining Forsey's affection for synthesized pop, Idol's punk grit, and guitarist Steve Stevens' heavy metal fireballs into a multi-platinum blockbuster that is one of the decade's most indelible releases. 1983 was the year that established Forsey not just as a top-drawer producer but as a commercially desirable one, too. He co-wrote "Flashdance...What a Feelin'" with singer Irene Cara for the Flashdance movie soundtrack, a number one hit on the U.S. charts. In 1984, the song earned him an Academy Award. The mammoth popularity of Flashdance suddenly gave Forsey the reputation of a soundtrack wiz; it led to a string of blockbuster soundtracks including Beverly Hills Cop, Ghostbusters, and The Breakfast Club. The Forsey-penned "Don't You (Forget About Me)" for The Breakfast Club was originally intended for Idol to sing; instead, it was given to the Scottish cult group Simple Minds in 1985, handing them a number one smash that is generally considered to be among the most beloved tunes from the ‘80s. The less-is-more trend of the ‘90s saw fewer work from Forsey, as keyboards and big production were suddenly frowned upon in rock, especially in the alternative scene wherein he made post-punk acts such as Idol, the Psychedelic Furs, and Simple Minds glossy enough for the masses. In 2003, Forsey produced the guitar pop band Rooney's critically acclaimed eponymous debut. ~ Michael Sutton

January 2, 1948

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