A few months ago I had mentioned that once I started reposting old content, one of my first Music Mondays would be a repeat of a post from July 2015. That post featured one of my favorite singer-songwriters, Tim Moore, a native of Philadelphia. He was, and is, relatively unknown, having had some minor success in the mid-1970s, and then a number one hit in Brazil in the mid-1980s. I never quite understood why he wasn’t more successful. I guess it shows that perhaps talent isn’t enough; luck and timing play a role as well. The original post was written well before I began my Music Monday posts (those began in October 2018 with a post about the Avett Brothers) but I guess this was a preview of what was to come.
Without further ado, let me introduce you to Tim Moore and his music.
I’m writing this while listening to the music of one of my favorite musicians of all time – Tim Moore.
Now I’m guessing that the vast majority of people reading this post have never heard of Tim Moore, and that’s unfortunate. And rather than shortchanging Tim and his accomplishments, I thought I would just include his relatively brief bio from Wikipedia at the end of this post for those who may be interested.
If you read through the bio, you will notice that Tim has known and worked with some big-time names in the music industry: Todd Rundgren, Frank Zappa, Daryl Hall, and Keith Richard and the Rolling Stones. He has also had some of his songs recorded by others, such as Art Garfunkel, the Bay City Rollers, Cher, and Richie Havens.
One item not mentioned in the bio is that Tim won the 1974 American Song Festival (an international songwriting contest) Grand Prize Award for the song “Charmer“.
And here are a couple of blurbs about Tim:
“I LOVE Tim Moore. ‘Second Avenue’ — amazing… first two albums have fantastic stuff on em.” ~ Cameron Crowe, Director of Vanilla Sky, Say Anything, and ironically, Almost Famous…
“The case for the Tim Moore/Behind the Eyes two-fer cannot be stated strongly enough. Tim Moore’s first two albums represent his best work. Both familiar and groundbreaking (his delivery skills and arrangement choices are spectacular), this is the place to discover a true pop master.” Thom Jurek – All Music Guide
I was in high school when I first heard of Tim and was lucky to see him perform a few times (including at the legendary Main Point in Bryn Mawr, PA). I brought all of his albums with me to college and was able to introduce his music to my fellow swimmers and dorm-mates.
When I look back on things, I often wonder why he never became a household name; he obviously had the talent and determination.
My guess is that it comes down to the importance of luck/timing, or whatever you want to call it. Being in the right place at the right time or making the right connection at the right time, plays a key role in everyone’s success.
That’s also a key point in Malcolm Gladwell’s bestselling book “Outliers: The Story of Success“, using Bill Gates and Steve Jobs as examples.
So while Tim may not have had the same commercial success as Billy Joel, Hall & Oates, or Simon & Garfunkel, I believe he was just as talented as these individuals.
So this blog is my chance to share his music with more people; I hope you enjoy it. And while I cannot find a good live version of Tim performing from the 1970s, here are videos my two favorite songs, Second Avenue (later covered by Art Garfunkel) and In the Middle. If you want to listen to more of his songs, here is a link to his music page.
After the videos, you will find his Wikipedia bio. Enjoy! And let’s hope he performs again in Philly someday soon.
Tim Moore is an American singer and songwriter who recorded five albums for David Geffen‘s Asylum record label. A self-taught musician, Moore grew up in Philadelphia where he went to art school and began to play his self-penned songs at local coffee houses. His rock career began as a guitarist-singer with DC & the Senators, a cover band opening Philadelphia arena rock shows. During this early period, he also played drums with blues band Woody’s Truck Stop, the first Philadelphia band to feature Todd Rundgren. Producing more and more songs during this time, he and a friend, Jeff Scott, formed The Muffins, the first group to perform and record Moore originals, many of which Scott wrote lyrics for. The Muffins had minor US success on RCA records with a Kinks-influenced single, ‘Subway Traveler,’ produced by Cameo-Parkway founder Bernie Lowe. The Muffins peaked in the summer of love, opening for Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground for a week at Philadelphia’s Trauma psychedelic club.
After the Muffins disbanded, Frank Zappa heard Moore’s songs, which he found harmonically advanced for the period, and brought him to New York with the intention of signing him to Bizarre Records. Moore declined the signing when tour scheduling kept Zappa from producing the album himself. Moore returned to Philadelphia and worked as a staff writer and session guitarist on sessions with Thom Bell, Gamble and Huff, and other Philly Soul producers. During this time, Moore lived next door to Daryl Hall in downtown Philadelphia where they both pulled salaries as staff writers. Hall and Moore co-wrote material for a band they founded, Gulliver, which released one album on the Elektra Records label.
After the breakup of Gulliver, Moore moved to Woodstock, New York, then the hometown of Bob Dylan, The Band, and Van Morrison, seeking a more personal approach to his music. He struck a deal with ABC-Dunhill records that produced the first Moore single, “A Fool Like You” on which Donald Fagen sang backup. (Moore also sang backup on the first Steely Dan single, “Dallas.”) Moore teamed with producer Nick Jameson to record his first solo album, Tim Moore which was released on Gulf + Western’s Famous Music subsidiary label A Small Record Company. Jameson provided him the Beatles-like studio freedom he had long sought. For the first time, Moore assembled his own tracks as a multi-instrumentalist, layering guitar, keyboard, and bass parts over drum tracks by Bernard Purdie and Russ Kunkel. Three singles, “A Fool Like You”, “Second Avenue” and “When You Close Your Eyes”, received much airplay in the US and UK. But as “Second Avenue” was headed up the US charts, the album’s distributor (Paramount) abruptly ceased record operations. Because his single was already climbing the charts, the sudden release from contract spurred a Tim Moore bidding war between Clive Davis and David Geffen. By the time the deal went to Geffen, Art Garfunkel had released a competing version of “Second Avenue” which peaked at #34 on the Billboard Hot 100. This ‘cover battle’ effectively defeated both records’ chances for a hit. Moore’s version of “Second Avenue” made #58 on the Billboard charts.
The following year he released Behind the Eyes, featuring what remains his best-known song in the U.S., “Rock and Roll Love Letter“, a hit for the Bay City Rollers a year later. Moore’s guitar work on “Rock’n’Roll Love Letter” drew the attention of Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards. The two became friends and Moore spent two weeks guesting on guitar with the Stones and Peter Tosh during their rehearsals at Bearsville Studios.
Although Moore was signed to Los Angeles-based Asylum Records, he didn’t record in L.A. until his third album White Shadows. This more highly polished collection teamed Moore with Michael McDonald, David Foster, the Eagles Timothy B. Schmit, drummer Jeff Porcaro, Little Feat‘s Bill Payne, and other L.A.-based talents. The band he assembled for the American tour in support of “White Shadows” featured Bryan Wilson‘s bassist, Bob Lizik, Philadelphia drummer Steve Shive, Pittsburgh drummer Bennett Carlise, David Livingston on guitar, and a Bob Lizik compadre from Chicago, John Melnick on keyboards. Lizik and drummer Steve Shive were featured players on his next album, High Contrast on Asylum Records, produced by legendary producer/engineer, Ken Scott who previously had produced albums by David Bowie, Supertramp, Dixie Dregs, Stanley Clarke and was the second engineer to Geoff Emerick on the Beatles White Album.
Moore’s albums were highly praised by critics. Other acts continued to mine his new releases for songs, but neither of these achievements brought Moore wider public attention in his homeland. Instead, he found success outside the US while promoting his fifth album, Flash Forward, produced by Blondie engineer, Rob Freeman. In 1986 Moore spent 75 days touring Brazil after his romantic beat-ballad “Yes” from Flash Forward went to number one and held that position for 10 weeks. “Yes” enjoyed a similar run of success in Portugal in 1988.
Performers who have recorded Moore’s songs include Art Garfunkel (“Second Avenue”), Cher (“Love Enough”), Richie Havens (“That’s the Way I See You”/ “Yes”/ “It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over”), Bay City Rollers(“Rock’n’Roll Love Letter”), Etta James (“Charmer”), The Records (another version of “Rock’n’Roll Love Letter”), Maxine Nightingale (“I Think I Want to Possess You”), Ian Matthews (“A Fool Like You”), Colin Blunstone (“I Can Almost See The Light”, “When You Close Your Eyes”, “Second Avenue”), Eric Andersen (“A Fool Like You”), Cliff Richard (“Love Enough”), Clifford T. Ward (“I Got Lost Tonight”), Jimmy Witherspoon (“Aviation Man”) and others.