Happy Birthday, Bruce Hornsby!
His heads-down, unassuming demeanor notwithstanding, Bruce Hornsby is easily one of America's most versatile and accomplished musicians of the past 25 years. Few other artists can claim such wide musical parameters, from the early Americana that brought him big hits like "The Way It Is," "Mandolin Rain," and "The Valley Road" with his band the Range to bluegrass collaborations with Ricky Skaggs; jazz sessions with the likes of Pat Metheny, Jack DeJohnnette, Wayne Shorter, Christian McBride, and Branford Marsalis; a two-year stint as a member of the Grateful Dead; and stylistic explorations that encompassed electronica, swing, big band, and a multitude of other styles in between. This doesn't even include the numerous sessions that found him backing the likes of Bob Dylan; Willie Nelson; Stevie Nicks; the Cowboy Junkies; Bill Evans; Crosby, Stills & Nash; Don Henley; the Yellowjackets; Bonnie Raitt; Bela Fleck; Bob Weir; and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. After more than a dozen albums featuring his name on the marquee, an untold number of live recordings, and several more recordings with the Dead and its various offshoots, Hornsby been duly rewarded with Grammys, solid sales, and peer recognition.
Considering Hornsby's musical education -- studies at the University of
Richmond, the Berklee College of Music, and -- most notably for us
locals -- the University of Miami (where he graduated in 1977), he
couldn't have been more prepared. Born November 23, 1954, he's nearly
considered a local due to that distinction, as well as the fact that he
frequently returns to UM to aid in its fundraising efforts. His most
recent appearance was just last month, when he took the stage at the
University's Bank United Center to sit in with Jackson Browne, much to
the delight of a sell-out crowd.
While Hornsby may be among UM's better-known alums, he's certainly not alone when it comes to notable celebrities. Actually, he's not even the most famous. Gloria Estefan, Sylvester Stallone, and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson likely take that distinction. In fact, the list of grads cuts quite deep into the roll call of show-biz movers and shakers. Here's a partial list of others who boast UM credentials:
Jon Secada - Singer and local icon.
Bob Clark - Director of the classic A Christmas Story and the less-than-classic but equally entertaining Porky's.
Jeff Coopword - Who? Listen up, Trekkies! He played the voice of the Borg in Star Trek: First Contact.
Pat Metheny - Extraordinarily prolific, he's one of America's greatest jazz guitarists. (Met him once -- he's a nice guy too!)
Grace Slick - Jefferson Airplane singer and rock 'n' roll icon. Her association with UM ought be enough to cause a 'Cane's heart to swell with pride.
Lewis Cleale - Broadway notable who starred in Sunset Boulevard and Spamalot.
Joshua Henry - Another stage star and a Tony nominee to boot. We're partial to him because he had a role in American Idiot.
Ray Liotta - A versatile actor, he's forever remembered for his portrayal of Henry Hill in the film Goodfellas.
Jo Ann Phlug - Actress best-known for her role as Lt. Maria "Dish" Schneider in the TV series M*A*S*H. When asked if Phlug was her real name, she astutely replied, "Phlug is a name you change from, not to."
Enrique Iglesias - He's an Iglesias. Nuff said.
Steve Morse - Well-known jazz guitarist and founder of the Dixie Dregs.
Steve-O - We did say talent, right? This notable Jackass never graduated. Somehow, we're not surprised.
Mark Egan - Bassist with Pat Metheny Group.
Jeffri W. Bantz - Singer and songwriter with disco band Exposé.
Ben Folds - He of the Ben Folds Five. He also folded prior to graduation.
Ed Toth - Doobie Brothers drummer.
Jerry Herman - Composer of Hello Dolly! and La Cage Aux Folles. Broadway great and Tony Award winner.
Will Lee - Longtime assist in David Letterman's Late Show band.
Patti Scialfa - Singer with the E Street Band, she married the band's Boss. Actually the Boss. So who cares if she didn't graduate? She's Mrs. Bruce Springsteen!
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