Roland Orzabal

Roland Orzabal Biography

Songwriter, Music Producer, Singer (1961–)
Roland Orzabal is an English musician, songwriter and record producer best known as co-founder with Curt Smith of the popular '80s pop band Tears for Fears.


Roland Orzabal is an English musician, songwriter and record producer who was born on August 22, 1961, in Portsmouth, England. He is best known as co-founder with Curt Smith of the popular '80s pop band Tears for Fears. Together they released the hit albums The Hurting, Songs From the Big Chair and The Seeds of Love. Popular songs include "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" and "Shout."

Early Life

Roland Jaime Orzabal de la Quintana, later professionally shortened to Roland Orzabal, is an English musician, songwriter and record producer born on August 22, 1961, in Portsmouth, England.

Orzabal and Curt Smith, future co-founders of the band Tears for Fears, met as children in Bath, England. Both boys came from broken homes and bonded over their unhappy situations. Orzabal, who suffered a strained relationship with his father, turned to books to escape.

It was through books that he discovered Arthur Janov's primal scream therapy which touted confronting childhood fears. John Lennon was also a fan of this therapy, which he used after the Beatles disbanded.

In the late 1970s, Orzabal and Smith formed the ska revival band Graduate. They then founded the duo synth-pop band Tears for Fears in the early 1980s.

Career Success

The band's name, Tears for Fears, derived from Janov's concept of using "tears as a replacement for fears." With Roland as lead vocalist and primary songwriter, the band's 1983 debut, The Hurting, found much success in England. It set the foundation for their 1985 follow-up hit album Songs From the Big Chair. Popular singles, including "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" and "Shout," contributed to their international success. The two songs reached No. 1 in the United States.

The industry acknowledged Orzabal's songwriting talents, presenting him with the Ivor Novello Award twice, including the Songwriter of the Year award in 1986.

It was not until 1989 that Tears for Fears released its third album, The Seeds of Love. While it performed well, Orzabal and Smith increasingly fought, leading to the breakup of the band in the early '90s. The planned Tears for Fears 1993 comeback album Elemental ended up a solo project of Orzabal's that produced the modest hit "Break It Down Again." Two years later Orzabal released another Tears for Fears album sans Smith, calling it Raoul and the Kings of Spain.

The 2001 album Tomcats Screaming Outside was the first album released under Orzabal's name, the same year that a remake of The Hurting track "Mad World" appeared in the film Donnie Darko. Three years later Orzabal reunited with Smith to release the Tears for Fears album Everybody Loves a Happy Ending.

Orzabal continues to work in the music industry, most recently as a record producer for other artists. He is also a novelist, having released the e-book Sex Drugs & Opera: There's Life After Rock 'n' Roll in March, 2014.

Personal Life

Orzabal and his wife, Caroline, have been married since September 10, 1982. Together they have two children.

Regarding his success, Orzabal revealed he made more money in the '90s due to better contracts, more control of his work and having a larger catalogue of songs. He doesn't miss the fame from his Tears for Fears days, admitting, "I was never a fame junky. I always liked the task and project of making records…had I been as big on my own in the '90s as I was in the '80s, it would have unleashed a monster!"

Orzabal appreciates the life he's lived, stating, "I feel I've been lucky, to do what I do, and survive and make a living. At the end of the day, your life doesn't evolve around success, but evolves around your immediate relationships, and that's what makes your life extremely rich."

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