David Martin Frank is an American music producer, composer, classically trained pianist, and founding member of the 1980s R&B group The System. Yamaha Music calls him “the founding father of electronic R&B.”
Frank grew up in a suburb of Boston and played classical piano at a recital level from a young age. By fifth grade he had won his first composing competition. In high school, Frank played in rock bands hired for dances and competed, often successfully, in talent shows and battle of the band contests. He attributes his fluency with soul and R&B music to an early encounter he had with a singer he met at one such contest. The singer was later incorporated as a member of his band. His studies continued throughout his youth as a student at the New England Conservatory and later at the Berklee College of Music. While at Berklee, an instructor brought in a copy of Wendy Carlos’ groundbreaking album “Switched On Bach.” Frank had already been experimenting with getting electric guitar sounds out of his Farfisa organ, and was inspired by this encounter to continue pursuing electronic musical directions.
Upon graduating Berklee, David began playing in bands around the Boston area. The bass player in one of such bands exposed him to an ARP Odyssey synthesizer for David to play. The new sounds intrigued him so much that he brought one for himself the next day. When Frank moved to Manhattan to try to become a session musician, he began playing at weddings while amassing more keyboards including those manufactured by Oberheim: the OB-Xa polyphonic synthesizer, the DSX sequencer and the DMX drum machine which in effect made him a one-man band.
In 1981, while he was working in New York, Frank was called in to do a session for a local studio owner who suggested that he use the time to create a dance song. Frank initially wanted to use his upstairs neighbor and bandmate, a pre-stardom Madonna. Instead he called up another singer, Mic Murphy, whom he knew while working as a tour keyboardist with Kleeer. A marathon recording session resulted in “In Times of Passion.” The next day, The System was signed to Mirage Records which was a subsidiary of Atlantic Records. “In Times of Passion” became both a radio and club hit in New York. The interest sparked enough interest for Mirage to give David and Mic an advance for an album. The album, “Sweat,” launched club hits “Sweat,” “I Can’t Let Go” and the iconic “You Are In My System” which became a top ten R&B smash. Robert Palmer’s cover of the song became a mainstream rock hit. As production partners, David Frank and Mic Murphey (as well as The System’s guitarist Paul Pesco who often contributed to the duo’s efforts) went on to generate platinum hit recordings with Chaka Khan’s “I Feel For You” (written by Prince), Phil Collins’ “Sussudio,” and Mtume’s “Juicy Fruit.” Perhaps their most widely heard contribution to pop culture is their playing on the soundtracks of two highly successful Eddie Murphy films, “Beverly Hills Cop” and “Coming To America.” And lastly being recognized by The System’s #1 hit “Don’t Disturb This Groove” in which Frank firmly establishes his prowess as a bass-groove synthesizer innovator and master.
In the early 90s, Frank moved to Los Angeles where he opened his own recording studio called Canyon Reverb. He became actively involved in the creative scene in Topanga Canyon. Through his publisher, Frank met songwriter Steve Kipner, and through friends he met UK songwriter Pam Sheyne. Together they went onto generate several hit songs Dream‘s ‘He Loves U Not, This Is Me, as well as Christina Aguilera‘s ‘Genie in a Bottle‘.)
Currently, Frank is signed as a songwriter to Universal Music Publishing Group and works with songwriters in Los Angeles, New York, and London. He has also recently completed work on the album of his son Griffith. He has a daughter too.