It’s hard to think of anyone who more fully embodies the notion of the multifaceted career than Mike Curb. A songwriter and producer, he charted pop hits while leading the Mike Curb Congregation, became president of a major record label, launched his own record company, served as lieutenant governor of California under Gov. Jerry Brown, briefly served as the state’s top executive in 1980 and has supported a number of prominent auto racing superstars.
His family moved early in his life from Georgia to Southern California, where he attended Grant High School in the San Fernando Valley. He then attended the Valley’s Cal State University campus, where he began in earnest writing and recording songs he’d written.
One took aim at the raging mid-’60s wave of songs about various forms of transportation, “You Meet the Nicest People on a Honda (Go Little Honda),” and the Japanese motorcycle company used it in an ad campaign, giving Curb his first taste of commercial success.
He started his own label, Sidewalk Records, in 1964, a company that would become Curb Records a decade later. In between, he merged his company with MGM Records and took over as president of that label, which during the period charted hits including Eric Burdon & War’s “Spill the Wine,” the Osmonds’ “One Bad Apple” and Sammy Davis Jr.’s sole No. 1 hit, “The Candy Man,” which prominently featured Curb’s vocal group, the Mike Curb Congregation.
His role as cochairman for Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan’s California presidential campaigns in the ’70s heightened his public profile, which led to his successful run for lieutenant governor in 1978. After several years in various prominent roles for Reagan, he returned to the music business and helped guide Curb Records to a new round of successes by signing emerging country acts such as the Judds, Lyle Lovett and the Desert Rose Band.
He started Curb Entertainment International Corp. in 1984 to focus on film and television production and distribution. Curb also made his mark in auto racing, owning or sponsoring cars driven by Dale Earnhardt, Richard Petty and many others. His racing team won the Dayton 500 in 1984 with a car driven by Petty, and in 2006, Curb was inducted into the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame.
In addition to his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, in 2007 he was named Nashvillian of the Year and given a star on Nashville’s Music City Walk of Fame.