Bruce Cockburn Biography
With a career that spans four decades, countless tours and over 30 albums to his credit, Bruce Cockburn is a veteran of the music business. Primarily a Folk-Rock based singer + guitarist & songwriter, his music has also encompassed many other styles, including Jazz, Blues and Reggae. Cockburn was born on May 27, 1945, in Ottawa, Ontario CANADA, he spent much of his formative childhood playing music and upon leaving high school, he travelled around Europe, busking on the streets of Paris, where he spent a night in jail for performing without a license. He eventually decided to attend the Berklee College of Music in Boston. Majoring in music composition Cockburn returned to Ottawa after two years where he soon hooked up with local poet and musician Bill Hawkins and his band The Children.
1969 was a pivotal year in his life as he decided to forge a solo career; at the end of the year, Cockburn and his girlfriend Kitty were married and he recorded his first LP, an eponymous effort which was followed by 1971's "High Winds White Sky".
Developing a strong following in his native Canada and receiving favorable
critical reviews, he spent the next few years with his wife and their
dog in a camper, criss-crossing the country performing.
Each successive album expanded on the previous, adding more textures and sounds, "Sunwheel Dance" contained his first recorded political song.
Cockburn unleashed his fourth album, "Night Vision", in 1973 and a year later he converted to Christianity releasing "Salt, Sun And Time".
His daughter was born in 1975 and before the year was out, however, he completed his sixth studio album, "Joy Will Find A Way".
The next year the adventurous LP "In The Falling Dark" increased
his popularity greatly.
"Circles In The Stream", Cockburn's first live album, a good retrospective of the artist's first seven years, was recorded in 1977 at Toronto's Massey Hall.
He returned in mid-1978 with a new studio effort, "Further Adventures
Of", setting the stage for a wider audience with his ninth album
of original material "Dancing In The Dragon's Jaws"; this was
the first album which cracked the U.S. Top 200 LPs & Tapes chart reaching
the #45 slot while the single "Wondering Where The Lions Are"
peaked at #21 on The Billboard Hot 100.
Yet, all was not going perfectly in Cockburn's life and he and Kitty were divorced just as his music was becoming more known.
This breakup fueled many of the songs on his landmark 1980 album "Humans", a harder, more Rock-oriented edge was beginning to show in his work, the record reached #81 on the U.S. Pop Albums chart.
A year later was released a 11-track compilation, "Mummy Dust", which contained four new songs including a worldwide radio hit: the mellow ballad "The Coldest Night Of The Year".
"Inner City Front", his next album, found him living in the harder urban surroundings of downtown Toronto and adopting a much more electric guitar-and-drums approach; it was a conscious effort to move out of his past style, resulting in the loss of some fans.
In 1983 Cockburn released "The Trouble With Normal"; this was another moderate success which failed to chart Stateside.
Around this time he made his first trip to Central America; while in Southern Mexico, he visited a refugee camp that had recently been attacked by the helicopters of the U.S.-backed Guatemalan army. The horrific experience sparked the anger-filled "If I Had A Rocket Launcher" a song which brought him unprecedented attention garnering heavy radio airplay with a #16 peak position on the U.S. Mainstream Rock chart. This single was included in his thirteenth studio album, 1984's "Stealing Fire" which crested at #74 on The Billboard 200. The album's first single, the terse rocker "Lovers In A Dangerous Time", became his most successful single to date in Canada where it leapt to #24.
One of Cockburn's most politically driven albums, "World Of Wonders", was released in early 1986; it reached the #143 position on The Billboard Top 200 chart.
The result of three years of global traveling, 1988's "Big Circumstance", reflects the artist's heartfelt reactions to war, repression and environmental abuse. Deforestation of the globe inspired "If A Tree Falls", his first Canadian top 10 hit which also ascended into the top 20 of The Modern Rock Tracks and helped bring the album into the lower portions of The Billboard 200.
After conquering a temporary writing block, he shifted gears and entered the '90s with a more introspective, roots-Rock and Folk sounding release: "Nothing But A Burning Light". In 1991 Cockburn went to Los Angeles to record, the first time in his entire career he recorded outside of Toronto. The result was the aforementioned "Nothing But A Burning Light", his first release for Columbia, featuring some of L.A.'s most notable session and famous musicians, produced by T Bone Burnett. In mid-December, the first single, "A Dream Like Mine", held the #22 on The Modern Rock chart.
In the fall of 1993 Bruce Cockburn released a full album of holiday music, simply titled "Christmas" and then returned to L.A. in 1994 to work with T Bone Burnett for his seventeenth album of all-original material, "Dart To The Heart"; the disc made it only to the #176 niche on The Billboard 200 and the opening track "Listen For The Laugh", a horn-driven rocker, debuted within the top 20 of the Canadian Singles chart.
The veteran singer + songwriter returned to jazzier instrumentation with the darker "The Charity Of Night"; released in February 1997, it was another marginal chart entry Stateside and included the opening song and single, "Night Train", which hit the top 40 in Canada.
In September 1999 arrived "Breakfast In New Orleans Dinner In Timbuktu";
this JUNO Award winning album featured the vocal contributions of a rotating
cast of three women including Margo Timmins of Cowboy
Junkies and boasted the minor hit single "Last Night Of The World".
The late '90s saw Cockburn very involved with the effort to ban landmines worldwide, participating in many fundraising activities and shows and visiting war-torn countries such as Mozambique and Cambodia. Ending a long and grueling concert tour schedule in early 2001, he took a year off to recharge his batteries.
Bruce Cockburn resurfaced with a new album, "You've Never Seen Everything", in June 2003; co-produced with longtime associate Colin Linden, the 12-song set featured guest vocalists such as Emmylou Harris and Jackson Browne.
His next offering, 2005's "Speechless", was the artist's first foray into completely instrumental territory.
"Life Short Call Now" came out in July 2006, on some tracks Cockburn has employed a twentythree-piece orchestra.
Bruce Cockburn is preparing for the release of his twenty-third album of all-new music, "Small Source Of Comfort"; the record is scheduled for a March 8, 2011 release, worldwide on the True North label.