Kenneth Stuart Stringfellow (born October 30, 1968) is an American singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, arranger, and producer. Best known for his work with The Posies, R.E.M., and the re-formed Big Star, Stringfellow's discography includes more than 200 albums.
|Born||October 30, 1968|
Hollywood, California, United States
|Genres||Alternative rock, punk rock, power pop|
|Labels||Hidden Agenda, Sony Music, Manifesto, Yep Roc, Sellout! Records, King of Patio Records, Blue Collar Distro, Lojinx, Thick Syrup Records, Spark & Shine|
|Associated acts||The Posies, Big Star, R.E.M., The Disciplines, Lagwagon|
Early life and education
Stringfellow was born in Hollywood, California. His father, a television executive, relocated the family frequently as his career developed, and Stringfellow went to elementary schools in New York, Chicago, and Detroit. After his parents divorced, in 1978, he moved to Bellingham, Washington. In high school, Stringfellow, who had learned to play piano at nine and guitar at 11, met Jon Auer, with whom he would later form The Posies.
Stringfellow attended college at the University of Washington, where he and Auer remained in touch, trading cassettes of songs.
In 1988, Stringfellow and Auer began playing together as The Posies and self-released their first album, Failure, which included some of the earlier material they'd written separately. Immediately after the record's release, Stringfellow left the University of Washington to focus on the Posies full-time.
Failure was well received by the press and put into regular rotation at college and commercial radio stations, prompting Stringfellow and Auer to quickly assemble a full band. Adding Mike Musberger on drums and Rick Roberts on bass, the Posies made their live debut in May 1988, two weeks after the release of Failure. The album was subsequently reissued by the Seattle-based independent label, Pop Llama. An expanded version of Failure with eight bonus tracks was reissued by Omnivore Recordings in 2014.
Following a series of dates with The Replacements, Hoodoo Gurus, and They Might Be Giants, among others, the Posies were signed by DGC, a Geffen Records imprint. Dear 23 was released on DGC in September 1990, with the album's lead single "Golden Blunders" appearing in the Top 10 on the college radio charts.
The band's next record, Frosting on the Beater, was released in 1993 and included the song "Dream All Day", which hit No. 4 on the modern rock charts and No. 17 on mainstream radio. In addition to extensively touring the United States, the Posies toured internationally and developed large followings in Europe, Australia, Japan, and elsewhere. Their final record for DGC, Amazing Disgrace, was released in 1996.
In 1993, Stringfellow and Auer were recruited to join Alex Chilton and Jody Stephens for a Big Star reunion; Stringfellow and Auer performed and recorded as members of Big Star until Alex Chilton's death in 2010. They both reunited with Big Star's Jody Stephens for at least one of the ongoing series of "Big Star's Third" concerts, in November 2014.
In 1997 Stringfellow began a long association with R.E.M.:
The first thing that happened was Peter [Buck] kept calling me and saying, "Hey, do you want to play some music?" I said, "Sure. I have to go on tour for a couple of months, but when I get back that would be great." A few months later I called him because Stephanie [Buck, Peter's wife] had mentioned something to me about playing bass on some demos. It kind of seemed more like a Minus 5 project at that point. Then he told me, "Actually, we're doing an R.E.M. tour for about a year and we need somebody to play guitar and keyboards, so we think you should audition." Then a week later he calls and says, "Well, actually we cancelled the tour, but we still want you to audition." Finally it was, "If you just want to come down to San Francisco in about a month, you have the gig. You don't have to audition.
Although the Posies were Stringfellow's main project during much of the 1980s and 1990s, he also performed and recorded with Sky Cries Mary (a band he founded with Auer in 1989), Lagwagon, Saltine, White Flag, and The Minus Five.
Stringfellow co-wrote and recorded several songs with Scott Miller's band The Loud Family in the mid-1990s, appearing as a guest guitarist and vocalist on their albums The Tape of Only Linda (1994) and Interbabe Concern (1996). He would later produce and perform on Miller's posthumous Game Theory album Supercalifragile (2016).
In 2003, Stringfellow and Auer released Private Sides, a six-song split EP on Arena Rock Recording Co./Rykodisc. As a sideman, Stringfellow has worked with Brendan Benson, Cali, Snow Patrol, and others. Beyond North America and Europe, Stringfellow has also collaborated with Senegal band Waflash.
In March 2015 he announced a country album together with Holly Muñoz. The album was recorded at his studio and was a response to Willie Nelson's 1975 album Red Headed Stranger. The album received positive reviews. The Boston Globe commented that it was a " fascinating left-field listen" noting "the gorgeous back-and-forth dueting of Stringfellow and Munoz". Willie Nelson's daughter Amy Nelson also called the album "amazing" on her Instagram feed and thanked them on behalf of the Nelson family.
Stringfellow has released four solo albums: This Sounds Like Goodbye (1997, on the Hidden Agenda label), Touched (2001, on Manifesto Records), Soft Commands (2004, on Yep Roc Records), and Danzig in the Moonlight (2012). Released on Lojinx (Europe), Spark & Shine (US) and Target Earth (Japan), Danzig in the Moonlight featured Charity Rose Thielen and Margaret Cho. In 2008, he also released an EP of cover songs, The Sellout Cover Sessions Vol. 1. He has toured extensively in support of each of the albums.
Since 2005, Stringfellow has been increasingly involved with production, and has composed film music and string arrangements. He has produced albums for Damien Jurado, The Long Winters, and Carice van Houten.
In 2016, he produced and performed on the final Game Theory studio album, Supercalifragile (2017), a collaborative project that completed the unfinished album Scott Miller had been working on at the time of his death.
- This Sounds Like Goodbye (1997)
- Touched (2001)
- Soft Commands (2004)
- The Sellout Cover Sessions Vol. 1 (2008)
- Danzig in the Moonlight (2012)
- I Never Said I'd Make It Easy: a Ken Stringfellow Collection (2014, initial Australian release)
with The Posies
- Failure (1988)
- Dear 23 (1990)
- Frosting on the Beater (1993)
- Amazing Disgrace (1996)
- Success (1998)
- In Case You Didn't Feel Like Plugging In (2000)
- Alive Before the Iceberg (2000)
- At Least, At Last (Box Set) (2000)
- Dream All Day: The Best of the Posies (2000)
- Nice Cheekbones and a Ph.D. (2001)
- Every Kind of Light (2005)
- Blood/Candy (2010)
- Solid States (2016)
with Big Star
- Man on the Moon OST (1999)
- Reveal (2001)
- In Time: The Best of R.E.M. 1988-2003 (2003)
- Perfect Square (2004)
- Around the Sun (2004)
- R.E.M. Live (2007)
with The Disciplines
- Smoking Kills (2009)
- Virgins of Menace (2011)
with Jon Auer
- Private Sides (2003)
with Sky Cries Mary
- Until the Grinders Cease (1989)
- Don't Eat the Dirt (1990)
with The Loud Family
with The Minus 5
- I Am Ben Hur (1998)
with The Orange Humble Band
- Assorted Creams (1998)
- Humblin' (Across America) (2001)
- Depressing Beauty (2015)
- Find Yourself Alone (1999)
- Reveal Love (1999)
with Bootsy Holler (as "Twin Princess")
with White Flag
- On the Way Down (1999)
- Eternally Undone (2001)
- History Is Fiction (2002)
- Piangi Con Me (2006)
with Holly Muñoz (as Ken and Holly)
- The Record: A Country Concept Album (2015)
with Big Fresh
- Hall, Michael James. "Column - A threesome with Ken Stringfellow featuring R.E.M., Posies & Big Star". February 9, 2012. Q. Archived from the original on February 22, 2014. Retrieved February 18, 2014.
- Zubair, Iris. "Questions With: Ken Stringfellow on R.E.M., Drug Use, and French Healthcare". March 7, 2013. Dallas Magazine. Retrieved February 18, 2014.
- Greenidge, Laurel. "Ken Stringfellow: Biography". 2013. AllMusic. Retrieved February 18, 2014.
- "Ken Stringfellow Performs at Starlight". February 17, 2013. Velvet Rope Magazine. Retrieved February 18, 2014.
- Huey, Steve. "The Posies Bio". 2014. MTV/Rovi. Retrieved February 18, 2014.
- Jamieson, Robert. "The Posies: Dear 23". December 1, 2002. Pop Matters. Retrieved February 18, 2014.
- Ulaby, Neda. "The Posies: How Do Bands Make Money Now?". July 29, 2009. NPR. Retrieved February 18, 2014.
- Sachs, Tony. "Remembering Alex Chilton: Icon and Iconoclast". March 18, 2010. Huffington Post. Retrieved February 18, 2014.
- Danton, Eric R. "R.E.M., Big Star Members Join Blitzen Trapper Onstage at SXSW". March 18, 2012. Rolling Stone. Retrieved February 18, 2014.
- Flannigan, Erik (August 1999). "The 'New' R.E.M." The Rocket. Seattle. Archived from the original on April 5, 2016.
- "Ken Stringfellow Credits". 2014. AllMusic. Retrieved February 18, 2014.
- "Waflash". 4nap.com. January 29, 2009. Retrieved April 6, 2015.
- Sachs, Tony. "Ken Stringfellow Masters the Disciplines of Rocking Out". February 25, 2011. Huffington Post. Retrieved February 18, 2014.
- Staker, Brian. "THE DISCIPLINARIAN Ken Stringfellow". 2010. Blurt. Retrieved February 18, 2014.
- "The Posies on Twitter: "We (@KenStringfellow & @iamonteamholly) are making a country album. In France. You're gonna help us! Super!"". Twitter.com. March 27, 2015. Retrieved April 6, 2015.
- "Ken Stringfellow and HOLLY: The Record: A Country Concept Album on PledgeMusic". Pledgemusic.com. Retrieved April 6, 2015.
- "Holly & Ken Show That They Can Be One Dreamy Duo". December 21, 2015. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved May 17, 2016.
- "Album review: Holly & Ken, 'The Record' - The Boston Globe".
- "Folk Uke on Instagram: "Dear @kenstringfellow of @theposies, and Holly Munoz @iamonteamholly This @willienelsonofficial tribute album is amazing. Thank you on…"". Instagram.
- Robinson, Collin (May 6, 2016). "Crowdfunded Final Game Theory Album Features Members of the Posies, R.E.M., The Both". Stereogum. Archived from the original on May 6, 2016.
- West, B.J. "Supercalifragile by Scott Miller's Game Theory". Archived from the original on May 6, 2016. Retrieved May 5, 2016.
- Hill, Jack W. (February 28, 2013). "The Posies, R.E.M. – oh, that Ken Stringfellow". Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Archived from the original on January 17, 2017.
- Rowland, Hobart (May 30, 1996). "Lesson in Survival". Houston Press. Archived from the original on January 17, 2017.
- "Twin Princess – The Complete Recordings". Theposies.net. Retrieved April 6, 2015.
- Big Fresh. "Sweeps EP". Bandcamp. Archived from the original on October 6, 2018.