Inquiring Minds

Inquiring Minds: Spearhead's Michael Franti On Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Having A Hit Record In The Hospital And John Mayer

This week in the Press, Rocks Off talked to Spearhead founder and front man Michael Franti about Bob Marley, Island Records founder Chris Blackwell (who signed Marley and U2) and the left-field success of the Bay Area group's hit single "Say Hey (I Love You)" after almost two decades of consciousness-raising, reggae-informed hip-hop.

Here's the rest of our conversation, which wound from Stevie Wonder's Songs In the Key of Life through Franti's collaborators Sly & Robbie, bounced off Michael Jackson's Off the Wall and wound up with the current tribulations of John Mayer, who brings Franti and Spearhead to Toyota Center tonight.

Rocks Off: What was the first album that had a major impact on you?

Michael Franti: It was Stevie Wonder's Songs In the Key of Life. It was just a record that was in our house, and I spent a long time listening to it. Mainly when my brother was away from the house because it was his record. If he found out I was playing his records he would have kicked my butt. Those were the first songs where I ever sat down and read the lyrics, looked at the album cover and played the songs over and over.

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Chris Gray has been Music Editor for the Houston Press since 2008. He is the proud father of a Beatles-loving toddler named Oliver.
Contact: Chris Gray