Wayne Coyne

Wayne Coyne Biography

Songwriter, Singer, Guitarist (1961–)
Grammy Award-winning musician Wayne Coyne has been the frontman of the Flaming Lips since 1983.


Wayne Coyne was born on January 13, 1961, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 1983, he and his younger brother, Mark, started the Flaming Lips. Before long, Mark left and Wayne started singing. The Flaming Lips signed with Restless in the 1980s and Warner Brothers in 1991. In 2003 and 2007, they won Grammy Awards for best rock instrumental performance. The Flaming Lips released their 13th album, The Terror, in 2012.

Early Years

Wayne Michael Coyne was born on January 13, 1961, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Wayne has four older siblings—Tommy, Kenny, Linda and Martin—and one younger brother named Mark. When Wayne was still a baby, his family moved to Oklahoma City for work. Wayne's father, Thomas, was a cabinet maker. His mother, Dolly, was a homemaker, until her husband was accused of embezzlement by the FBI. Though Thomas was eventually acquitted, he lost his job and Dolly was forced to go to work. Wayne was just 9 years old at the time.

At Central Junior High School, Coyne exhibited a talent for drawing. As a teen, he attended Classen High School, beginning in 1975. At the time, the school had one of the poorest reputations in Oklahoma City. What the school lacked in academic prowess, its staff members strove to make up for with athletics. But sports were of little interest to Coyne, who was more focused on his artwork—particularly once he discovered that he could, on occasion, earn small sums for commissioned drawings. In 1977, while a sophomore at Classen, Coyne took an after-school job cooking at Long John Silver's and—according to his biography, Staring at Sound: The True Story of Oklahoma's Fabulous Flaming—took to selling marijuana on the side. After high school, Coyne continued to work for Long John Silver's intermittently until 1991.

The Flaming Lips

In 1983, Wayne Coyne and his younger brother, Mark, performed at a punk show with their friend, bassist Michael Ivins. The group called themselves "the Flaming Lips." Before long, Mark left the Lips and Wayne started singing. Serendipitously, Wayne's gruff voice would lend to the band's unique, gritty sound and spur its cult following. The Flaming Lips signed with Restless in the 1980s and released four records in rapid succession, including 1986's Hear It Is.

Three years later, the band's lineup changed again. Richard English, who had been added on drums, left the group, and was replaced by Nathan Roberts. Guitarist Jonathan Donahue also joined the band that year.

In 1991, the Flaming Lips signed with Warner Brothers, and Coyne finally quit his job at Long John Silver's. With Warner, the band released several more albums.

More changes came to the Flaming Lips' lineup in 1993. Guitarist Jonathan Donahue and drummer Nathan Roberts dropped out; Stephen Drozd and Ronald Jones stepped in. Jones would leave the band in 1996. Coyne and Ivins have been the only constants since the Flaming Lips' inception.

In 2002, the band released an album each with Rkodisc and Restless, then returned to their Warner productions with the release of Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. The following year, the Flaming Lips was awarded a Grammy Award for best rock instrumental performance for "Approaching Pavonis Mons By Balloon (Utopia Planitia)." The band earned a second Grammy (best rock instrumental performance) in 2007 for The Wizard Turns On...The Giant Silver Flashlight and Puts on His Werewolf Moccasins.

On April 16, 2012, the Flaming Lips released their 13th album, The Terror, which was met with mixed reviews.

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