September 13, 1952
Detroit, Michigan, United States
Legendary music producer Don Was began his life as Don Fagenson, growing up in Detroit, Michigan on a steady diet of Michigan R&B and The Rolling Stones. He even saw the Stones perform when he was just 12 years old during the group's Exile on Main Street tour. By the time he reached adulthood, he took on the stage name Don Was and founded the R&B group Was (Not Was) with his friend David Weiss, who took on the stage name David Was. The group released its self titled debut in 1980 and grew in popularity with 1983's Born to Laugh at Tornadoes and 1987's What Up Dog?, which spawned the funky hit single "Walk the Dinosaur." When Was wasn't playing bass with his band, he was picking up gigs as a producer, prominently helming Carly Simon's Spoiled Girl in 1985. Though he would continue with Was (Not Was) until the early '90s, producing soon became Was' main occupation, as he masterminded major works by artists like Bonnie Raitt, The B-52s, Bob Dylan, Elton John, Bob Seger, Ringo Starr, and perhaps most importantly, the Rolling Stones. Was would in fact produce four albums for the most beloved band of his youth, in addition to providing musical direction for movies like "Thelma and Louise" (1991) "Toy Story" (1995) and the TV special "The Beatles: The Night That Changed America" (2014), for which he won an Emmy. As the years went on, Was continued to produce projects for newer artists like John Mayer and Lucinda Williams. In 2012, he became the president of the prestigious jazz label Blue Note Records.