Linda Perry, born April 15, 1965, in Springfield, Massachusetts, to parents of Portuguese and Brazilian descent, is an American rock musician, songwriter, and record producer. Once best known as the lead singer and primary songwriter of 4 Non Blondes, Perry has founded two record labels and has become a major songwriter and producer responsible for hit songs by a number of successful female singers such as Christina Aguilera (who had a #1 hit with Perry's song "Beautiful"), Gwen Stefani ("What You Waiting For" from her album Love Angel Music Baby) and Pink (who had a #1 hit with "Get the Party Started", written by Perry). Perry has also contributed heavily to albums by Courtney Love and Kelly Osbourne as well as signing and distributing James Blunt in the United States.
Life and career
Linda Perry was raised in a large family that comprised her mother and father and six siblings - five brothers (Jay, Solomon, Mark, Marcel, and John) and one sister (Sally). Her Brazilian-born mother, Marluce Perry, worked as a model, designer, and private detective. Her Portuguese-American father, Alfred Xavier Perry (1928?2005), worked as both an engineer and a musician. She spent her youth struggling with kidney disease and then addiction before focusing on music. Growing up in an artistic and musical household, the young Perry displayed a good share of musical talent and interest from an early age. Her first song was "Pity Girls" at the age of 15 (according to an interview from ASCAP in the middle of 2003).
Linda came to San Francisco at the age of 21 in early 1987. Although she had been involved in music and pursued some sort of musical interest while a teenager in San Diego, starting out playing the guitar and auditioning for all-girl cover bands, her arrival in San Francisco marked the actual beginning of her career in music. Waiting tables, doing coat check, and working at a pizzeria, she lived in a very small room without a window and would play her guitar and sing her own songs out on the street in the city. People started recognizing her as "that chick with the big voice." After some time spent paying dues as a solo singer at Bay Area (San Francisco) clubs and coffeehouses, Perry composed her first professional song, called "Down On Your Face", and was recruited into the band by 4 Non Blondes founder Christa Hillhouse in the middle of 1989. After several years of playing locally and negotiating with various record companies, the band finally signed with Interscope Records and released its debut album, Bigger, Better, Faster, More!, in late 1992; the album, featuring Perry as lead singer and dominated by her compositions, was an immediate success and spawned a hit single, the Perry-penned "What's Up?" (often erroneously called "What's Going On?"). While promoting the song, Perry was touring around the world and displayed the word "dyke" on her guitar for a performance on the 1994 Billboard Music Awards. She has always been openly lesbian and is currently dating Cybill Shepherd's daughter, Clementine Ford.
In February 1994, Perry had a solo appearance in Roger Daltrey's production, album and video A Celebration: The Music of Pete Townshend and The Who. She shared the stage with the Juilliard Orchestra and members of The Who as she sang "Doctor Jimmy", "Acid Queen", "I'm Free" (in a duet with Roger Daltrey) and the encore for "Join Together" with original The Who members John Entwistle and Pete Townshend. In 1994 a CD and a VHS video of the shows were issued with the songs "Doctor Jimmy" and "I'm Free", but in 1998 a DVD was released with the song "I'm Free" only.
In June 1994 the guitarist Roger Rocha was replaced by Concrete Blonde member Jim Mankey, who had just played for Van Halen's cover I'm The One recorded as the theme from the movie Airheads. During sessions at Interscope studios in Los Angeles, the band struggled to come up with a followup to Bigger, but Perry left the band during the attempt to pursue a solo career. The band recorded one last video, for a cover of Led Zeppelin's "Misty Mountain Hop" with Dave Navarro on guitar.
With the band in disarray and the recording contract unfulfilled, Interscope reluctantly allowed Linda Perry to make a solo CD while dropping the rest of the band. Interscope insisted on choosing the producer for the album, and the production team behind it was Bill Bottrell and members of the Tuesday Night Music Club, who had recently been successful producing Sheryl Crow's debut. Released in 1996, the CD, In Flight, was an atmospherically appealing work?moody, mellow and at times dark, far removed from the sound of 4 Non Blondes. The release received critical acclaim but was a poor seller, perhaps because of Interscope's lack of promotion. Linda hooked up with Red Fish, Blue Fish for her world tour, supporting such acts as the Who. She promoted her CD with her own funds, including from an appearance on The Howard Stern Show, wherein she participated in "lesbian dial-a-date" and performed her former band's one and only hit single, "What's Up?", for Howard. Perry also took time out to host and appear at the 1997 and 1998 Bammies (Bay Area Music Awards).
In 1997 Perry took on two new ventures, producing a movie called Pink as the Day She Was Born, which featured cameos by Les Claypool of Primus and comedian Margaret Cho. Perry was displeased with what she experienced in the music business, so she also launched her own record label, Rockstar Records, for the primary purpose of releasing the CD of a band she loved called Stone Fox. In addition to Stone Fox, she signed another local San Francisco band, 2 Lane Blacktop. The year 1998 saw Perry appearing and performing on CNN as part of a special on music and the Internet?how independent artists are cutting out the major labels. In 1999 she released her second solo effort on Rockstar Records entitled After Hours. For the rest of 1999, she opened for Brian Adams, reuniting with 4 Non Blondes' bassist Christa Hillhouse, then toured behind After Hours, with Hillhouse and San Francisco-based drummer Claudia Page.
In 2001 Perry again returned to music and touring. She had written new material and hoped to secure a major label contract. She had decided to take this route because, as an independent artist, most of her time was spent in the office instead of on the stage. During this period, she wrote a handful of songs, two of which, "Beautiful" and "Cruz", would eventually be recorded and appear on Christina Aguilera's hit album Stripped. In 2001 she closed most of her shows with "Beautiful", a song she hoped would be her own comeback hit.
In 2002 Perry made a rare live performance at the Knitting Factory in Los Angeles, where she performed a set of original music and a set of Zeppelin covers. There she was cheered on by a full house of fans and critics, who witnessed Pink joining her for "Lonely Girl" and Aguilera debuting "Beautiful." Also in 2002, she made an appearance on a solo record of Gordon Gano entitled Hitting the Ground, performing a song entitled So It Goes.
Perry made a live appearance at a DKNY benefit show in Los Angeles, where she joined Slash on stage for a version of Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love."
2005 marked Linda Perry's first official set performance since 2002's Hollywood Knitting Factory Show. She was a performer at ASCAP's showcase at the Sundance Film Festival.
Perry has signed with indie Kill Rock Stars Records, who re-released her solo album In Flight in October. Featuring new artwork, the re-release includes original videos for "Fill Me Up" and "Freeway." Additionally, Perry promoted In Flight with three rare live performances on the west coast with Sierra Swan opening.
In 2008 Linda played guitar in the official video for Christina Aguilera, "Save Me From Myself".
Songwriting and producing
It was during this time that Perry was first contacted by pop singer Pink, seeking production and songwriting assistance on her second album. Perry co-wrote and produced much of Pink's successful album Missundaztood, which catapulted Perry back into the spotlight as one of the best producers in the music business. Perry took full writing credits for the songs "Get the Party Started" and "Lonely Girl."
After success with Pink, Perry's next big project came in the form of providing Christina Aguilera a career makeover with the international hit "Beautiful." Since then, she has gone on to work with many artists, including Jewel, Courtney Love, Gwen Stefani, Blaque, Sugababes, Lillix, Robbie Williams, Melissa Etheridge, Sierra Swan, Solange Knowles, Gavin Rossdale, Juliette and the Licks, Lisa Marie Presley, Fischerspooner, Unwritten Law, L.P., Britney Spears, Kelly Osbourne, Vanessa Carlton, James Blunt, Cheap Trick, Ben Jelen, Enrique Iglesias and Giusy Ferreri.
The 2002 Faith Hill album Cry has a song co-written by Perry and Alecia B. Moore (Pink).
In 2003 Perry was recognized with two awards by ASCAP (music publishing society) for her writing and a Grammy Awards nomination for her song "Beautiful" as a contender for "Song of the Year."
With actress Gina Gershon, she wrote the song "StupidStar" for the movie Prey for Rock and Roll.
With Brooklyn rocker L.P., she co-wrote "The Darkside".
For most of 2004, Perry remained behind the scenes, making another appearance with Camp Freddy, this time at LA's Live 103's Birthday Concert. She again belted some Zeppelin and then joined Lisa Marie Presley on stage for a few songs that they wrote together. Also appearing at the show was Juliette Lewis and Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day.
The year 2004 also saw the release of Courtney Love's solo America's Sweetheart, to which Perry heavily contributed. Although the album was mostly overshadowed by Love's turbulent antics, Perry was critically appreciated both by the press and by Love.
A song called "Girls & Boys", which was originally intended for Pink but later recorded by Britney Spears, was released as a bonus track on Spears' European DVD release. The track marked Perry's foray into more electroclash-inspired tunes.
She collaborated with art-dance darlings Fischerspooner on a few songs for their upcoming release and ended the year with a few co-writing credits on Gwen Stefani's debut, Love. Angel. Music. Baby., including the album's first single, "What You Waiting For?" Additionally, her Atlantic-distributed label, Custard Records, was launched to promote two new acts, Sunshine and James Blunt. She produced and played guitar on the recording of Blunt's song "No Bravery."
The year ended with Perry co-writing "Save Me" for Southern Cali punkrockers Unwritten Law, which helped build anticipation for the group's upcoming CD.
Perry contributed widely to Christina Aguilera's latest album Back to Basics. Perry was involved more in the production of the second disc of the album, which featured songs like "Candyman", and "Hurt". Perry co-wrote every song on the disc.
Releases for 2005 included Kelly Osbourne's second album, which was written and produced by Perry. The lead track from Osbourne's second album, "One Word", reached the top of the UK and USA dance charts.
2007 saw Perry working with Vanessa Carlton on her third studio album, Heroes and Thieves. She also co-wrote and did session work on many of the songs on Sierra Swan's solo album, Ladyland. A new release from Courtney Love. A fresh collaboration with Hip-Hop chanteuse Kelis, co-writes with Cheap Trick and Ziggy Marley. Production on Ben Jelen's new album; production on Skin's next record. There are also collaborations with The Format on the song "Dead End" from their Dog Problems album and "Darker Side of The Moon" on Bay Area artist Goapele's Change It All album, and a couple of songs for the new Enrique Iglesias album.
In 2007 Linda Perry was recognized with an award from the San Francisco chapter of the Recording Academy for her contribution to the world of music. The years 2007 and 2008 saw more tunes written and/or produced by Linda Perry: The Section Quartet, Alicia Keys, Vanessa Carlton, Gina Gershon, and the anticipated release of Courtney Love's second solo record.