Dean Friedman (born May 23, 1955, Paramus, New Jersey) is an American singer-songwriter who plays piano, keyboard, guitar and other instruments, including the harmonica.
Raised in Paramus, Friedman received his first guitar when he was 9, in 1964, and started writing songs. When he was a teenager, he played weddings and bar mitzvahs as part of Marsha and the Self-Portraits, sent out demos and majored in music at City College of New York where one of his teachers was guitarist David Bromberg. By the time he was 20, in 1975, he had a manager and a recording contract with Cashman and West's Lifesong label.
In the United States he is described as a one-hit wonder, following his 1977 hit song "Ariel", which reached # 26 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and stayed in the chart for five months. "Ariel" has been described as a "quirkily irresistible and uncategorizable pop song about a free spirited, music loving, vegetarian Jewish girl", from Paramus, New Jersey, where he grew up. It is the only Billboard Top 40 song to contain the word Paramus. It describes the girl Ariel, "standing by the waterfall at Paramus Park", one of the many shopping malls in Paramus. The quarters she was collecting for "friends of BAI" refers to the New York radio station WBAI-FM, and their listener association.
Although "Ariel" did not make the UK Singles Chart, "Lucky Stars", a duet with Denise Marsa taken from his second album Well Well Said the Rocking Chair, made #3 in the UK in late 1978, and both "Woman of Mine" and "Lydia" were lesser chart hits there.
Friedman also provided vocals for a series of television commercials in the 1970s in the New York metro area. The electronics chain Crazy Eddie's hired him to sing their doo-wop styled commercial: "When you think you're ready, come down to Crazy Eddie's".
Unlike many one-hit wonders, Friedman has continued to write and perform songs into the 2000s.
The songs of Dean Friedman have been covered by several contemporary bands, including The Barenaked Ladies, Ben Folds Five, Ariel Pink, The Tone Rangers, and The Blenders. The lead singer of Barenaked Ladies, Steve Page, sang background vocals on Friedman's album Songs For Grownups (1998).
TV and films
Friedman has written, performed and produced the theme music to several TV series including Boon (for which he did all of the music apart from the theme song which was performed by Jim Diamond), starring Michael Elphick. Other TV credits include Nick Arcade (Nickelodeon) and Eerie, Indiana (NBC). He also composed, performed and produced the soundtrack to the cult horror film, I Bought a Vampire Motorcycle, in which he performs the track "She Runs on Blood, Not Gasoline".
Other (non-musical) work
In 1985, Friedman produced a seminal work on the newly emerging synthesizer industry called Complete Guide to Synthesizers, Sequencers, and Drum Machines. Whilst dated, this tome is still of use in evaluating devices that crop up on the second-hand market. Friedman also set up the "New York School of Synthesis" and provided a series of videos entitled "Intro to Synthesis". Friedman presents the rudiments of this topic in an audio-visual format, whilst incorporating a unique sense of humor.
In 1986, Friedman saw a demo of a powerful virtual reality program that put the user right inside a video game using a video camera (similar to the technology used by the Eye Toy).
Friedman was impressed by the technology and wrote an article for Electronic Musician magazine. In 1989 he designed a game called Eat-A-Bug which was licensed to Nickelodeon TV, used on the series Total Panic and served as a prototype for the series Nick Arcade, for which Friedman produced a dozen games. He is now the President and Creative Director of InVideo games.
The record label which produced "Ariel" insisted Friedman change the song's second verse, which refers to the eponymous Ariel as "a Jewish girl", believing that radio stations might use it as an excuse not to play the record. The third verse was also removed to make the single shorter for radio. The management company received threats from the Jewish Defense League protesting against the edit and, at Friedman's insistence, the original version was put on the album.
Friedman's second single "McDonald's Girl" was officially banned by the BBC because the chorus mentioned the name of the fast food restaurant.
During 2005, as part of a tie-in to one of his tour sponsors, Friedman's tour of the United Kingdom was almost canceled after it was revealed he intended to distribute cannabis seeds to purchasers of his new album. Although it is not illegal to own or distribute cannabis seeds in this manner 'unless they get wet', the suggestion caused friction with a number of venues on the tour, so the intended distribution was not carried out.
Friedman's album, The Treehouse Journals was financed entirely by his fans via his website. Friedman invited people to finance the cost of the as-yet unrecorded album by making an advance purchase and by making limited edition signed copies available. This tactic has been adopted by other bands, including Marillion. He continued to tour, playing small venues.
He copied this tactic again in 2005, with the album Squirrels in the Attic. His sister, Racelle Rosett Schaefer, is a noted television writer who was executive producer of the show Blossom, starring Mayim Bialik.
As of 2007 he lived in New York with his wife, Alison, and two children: Hannah Friedman (born 1986), and Sam Friedman (born 1990).
Dean Friedman and Half Man Half Biscuit
The British band Half Man Half Biscuit recorded, in 1986, a song entitled "The Bastard Son of Dean Friedman", a claim Friedman considered improbable, as he was only seven years old when lyricist Nigel Blackwell was conceived. At the Edinburgh Festival in 2003, The Scotsman newspaper arranged a get together between Friedman and the band, in which he acknowledged that Blackwell had at least surmised right the underlying story in the song "Lucky Stars": "That guy Nigel was hip to the fact Lisa and I didn't just do lunch. You can't interpret a song that way unless you understand what it's about." It also transpired that Blackwell had a copy of a rare vinyl version of Well Well Said the Rocking Chair.
In 2009, Friedman wrote a 'reply' called "Tale Of A Baker's Son", in which he firmly placed Blackwell's parentage as being that of the local baker, posting it on Half Man Half Biscuit's MySpace site. The band mentioned it on their own website as "Dean Friedman's Revenge/Dean Friedman strikes back".