Friday, March 02, 2012

Profile: Mark Heard (1951-1992)

John Mark Heard (December 16, 1951 - August 16, 1992) was a record producer, folk-rock singer, and songwriter originally from Macon, Georgia, USA. Mark Heard released 16 records in his lifetime, and produced and performed with many other artists as well, such as Sam Phillips (aka Leslie Phillips), Pierce Pettis, Phil Keaggy, Vigilantes of Love, Peter Buck of R.E.M. (who co-produced VOL's album Killing Floor with Heard), John Austin, The Choir, Randy Stonehill and Michael Been of The Call. Heard produced part of Olivia Newton-John's The Rumor, which also included a cover of Heard's own "Big and Strong" (originally called "How To Grow Up Big And Strong").

After graduating from the University of Georgia in 1974 with an ABJ (bachelor of arts in journalism) degree in television, Heard travelled to Switzerland to study at L'Abri under the influential evangelical Christian philosopher Francis Schaeffer. Singers Larry Norman and Randy Stonehill literally stumbled onto Mark one day playing his guitar. Norman was so impressed by Heard's abilities that he soon signed him to his record label, Solid Rock Records. Heard and his wife Janet moved to Glendale, California in 1977 to begin work on his Appalachian Melody album for the label, but would also maintain a close relationship with the people at the L'Abri for years. Heard would also record and release Fingerprint on a Swiss label in 1980.

  In 1981, Heard began a recording contract with Chris Christian's Home Sweet Home Records. Although Mark's sales did not attract attention from the Major Christian Labels, Christian felt Mark's music was unique and fresh and deserved to be heard and funded his projects with no production oversight which Mark wanted. His signing to the label was a departure from the commercial Artist that Chris traditionally signed and produced on the Home Sweet Home label. Heard released five albums for the label; 1981's Stop the Dominoes, 1982's Victims of the Age; 1983's Eye of the Storm; 1984's Ashes and Light; and 1985's Mosaics. The overall experience was not one that Heard enjoyed, partly due to his personal experiences with record company executives, and partly due to compromises he felt under pressure to make in order to make himself and his songs more marketable to Christian audiences.

In 1984, Heard began recording in his home studio, which he dubbed "Fingerprint Recorders," after the title of one of his earlier records. From that point on, his albums were largely made at home, with just a handful of friends and relatives lending a hand. In 1986, Heard decided to try something a little different and recorded the experimental Pop/Rock album for What? Records entitled Tribal Opera, under the name iDEoLA. When asked about the unusual name, Heard replied "It's not supposed to be mysterious or anything; I just put a band together and right now I happen to be the only one in it." Heard also directed a music video for the single of that album, "Is It Any Wonder."

With the formation of Fingerprint Records and his studio, Heard began to produce albums for a number of artists including two albums for Randy Stonehill, Jacob's Trouble, Pierce Pettis and 1992's Vigilantes of Love album, Killing Floor, which he co-produced with R.E.M.'s Peter Buck. Stonehill's Until We Have Wings including a song co-written by Heard, "Faithful," although the CD liner notes credit the song to Heard's pseudonym Giovanni Audiori.

To read more about Mark Heard go to:

To view the Official Mark Heard Tribute Site:


Mark Heard - Worry Too Much - Second Hand (1991)



 Mark Heard - Satellite Sky - Taken from his last concert performance, Mark Heard plays at Cornerstone 1992 at the Encore Stage.




1 comment:

HeardHerd said...

Nice touch, coming just days before the 20th anniversary of his death, which coincides with the 35th anniversary of Elvis's death. Elvis was an original entertainer, a nonpareil showman and a great interpretive artist, but John Mark Heard was so much more: an original songwriter, a gutsy performer, a singularly creative artist, a talented producer, a scholar and a poet. And the mouths of the best poets, indeed, speak but a few words and then lie down, stone cold, in forgotten fields. Thankfully, his music and his memory endure.