“Went to the dentist today. My teeth are fine. I just wanted to hear some of my songs.” Not many musicians have the sense of humor Richard Marx does. After selling over 30 million albums, as well as having a number one single in each of the last four decades, Marx has spent the last year and a half making people laugh on twitter, posting videos with his wife Daisy Fuentes and releasing his autobiography Stories To Tell. I spoke with Marx about his career, the one guitar that means something to him and just how cold your martini should be.
You’ve got a new book, a hysterical twitter account and spent the pandemic releasing homemade videos. Are people finally getting to know the real Richard Marx?
I’m not that different on stage or off. And that took a while because I was really young when I started performing and I adopted out of necessity — or panic — the typical rock star posing. After a few years I just started becoming myself on stage. Telling jokes, being self-deprecating, pointing out that yeah I do have a huge head. So the greatest compliment is when someone comes up to me after a show and says they left wishing they could have a drink with me. My goal every night is to make people feel like we’re just hanging out. If people just hear me replicate the records that’s boring. The most important part of my performance is what happens between the songs.
And you do have a drink while you’re performing.
I have a martini on stage every show. Always with Belvedere vodka. There are a handful of vodkas I like but nothing comes close to Belvedere. No vermouth so super-super dry, but also super-super cold. As I like to say colder than your most emotionally unavailable relative.
You’re also a big fan of tequila.
Daisy and I have a podcast called Tequila Talk which began when we just turned on a microphone one night. This is what we do all the time anyway — we pour tequila or a martini and talk. We’ve only been married six years, so we still feel a little like newlyweds and that there’s a lot we’ve been waiting our whole lives to talk to each other about. And we love to do it over a drink. We trade off, one night martinis, one night tequila. Two drinks at most though. Daisy has an expression, “martinis are like breasts, one is not enough and three is too many.”
What are your favorite tequila drinks?
For the most part we’re purists, we rarely do mixed drinks. We’re all about anejos. Don Julio Anejo is what we have primarily. Their 1942 is probably my favorite tequila in the world. There is a Clase Azul Reposado that to me is almost as warm and smooth as that. A dear friend also gave me a bottle of The Bad Stuff. Phenomenal.
Do either of you enjoy cooking?
Daisy has always been an incredible chef. The challenge for the last six years has been we adopted a plant-based diet. But she’s learned to make all of her favorite dishes vegan. She’ll do a big picadillo, a cubano sandwich and even a vegan bolognese and you’d never know they were plant-based. I’m well fed.
How about when you’re touring?
When Daisy is on the road with me she’s finding the place we’re going to go have dinner when I’m on stage. The days are the work part of touring. The evenings are a blast. The show is what I do for free — they pay me for the other 22 hours. The post-show dinner is a totally different experience with Daisy. Coming down off a show over a meal and a nice cocktail. It’s the greatest life and I’ve really missed it this last year and a half. I can’t wait to get back to it.
Your book doesn’t mention many specific instruments you own. Do you have a guitar or piano that’s special to you?
I have a few rare guitars, but the only instrument that has sentimental value to me is this inexpensive guitar made by an Australian company Maton. We had a big tour there in 1991 and a rep brought me an acoustic sunburst. I thought here’s a guitar I can keep on the tour bus that I don’t have to worry about. I don’t even have to put it in a case. It’s just there if I feel like writing or playing and if something happens to it, it’s not the end of the world.
And it’s a nice sounding guitar, but I didn’t treat it with much respect. It would get dinged and stuff would be piled on top of it, there was duct tape where the body had cracked. But I noticed that no matter what the thing would hardly ever go out of tune. After a couple of years I realized it was my go-to guitar. It never failed me. I started writing song after song on it — I wrote ‘Now and Forever’ on that guitar. Over time it became the only instrument that I deeply care about. Now I never take it on the road and it sits in my living room. It’s always nearby.
In your book you discuss a book of special importance to you. James Allen’s ‘As A Man Thinketh.’
I’ve given that book to more people than any other gift. It showed up in my life about eight years ago at a time of upheaval. I was getting divorced and it was a painful time, but an exciting time. I was reading everything I could get my hands on, open to new thoughts, and the best new idea I discovered was from 1903. I think Allen was the first person to successfully publish the idea that your thoughts dictate the quality of your life. Yeah, you can call it manifestation — but ‘The Secret’ never really resonated with me and no disrespect but I find it sort of the bastardized version of manifestation. But if you’re open to examining your thoughts ‘As A Man Thinketh’ will serve you well. It’s my bible.
To see Richard Marx live check out his new tour dates.