Doing what he does best

For a period in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Richard Marx was among the most prolific recording artists around.

Although he had been a professional songwriter and musician/ vocalist in California since moving out there in the early 1980s, he became a household name with the release of his self-titled debut album in 1987.

That record spawned the hits Don’t Mean Nothing, Should’ve Known Better, Endless Summer Nights, and Hold On to the Nights — all of which made the top five on the pop charts.

After two years of near endless touring, he released his tour de force: Repeat Offender. Kicking off with the catchy rocker Satisfied, that album also included songs like Right Here Waiting, Angelia, Nothing You Can Do About It, and Too Late to Say Goodbye.

His popular fortunes waned on subsequent releases, but Marx never stopped created music, releasing albums throughout the 1990s and into the 21st Century.

When he found himself less “fashionable,” he simply went back to doing what he does best, what he has always done — write music, and collaborate with other artists, either as a songwriter or producer.

One of his most recent, and most fulfilling, collaborations has been with Vertical Horizon frontman Matt Scannell, touring the world as an acoustic duo.

It is in this incarnation that Marx comes to the Empire Theatre in Belleville on Dec. 1 as part of a short Canadian tour.

Marx said he was a fan of Scannell’s work in Vertical Horizon, the Seattle-based band that generated hit songs like Best I Ever Had, You’re A God and the monster smash Everything You Want, long before he ever met him.

“The first connection was musically,” Marx said. “Because I loved Everything You Want, like everybody else did, it was a big song, and it made me go buy the CD. And it was the first CD and the last CD up until now, where I loved every single song. I listened to that CD over and over and never skipped a track. I was so into Matt’s songwriting. I connected to his approach to lyrics and stuff, because I could tell that this was a guy who had experienced a lot of anguish. And I was really attracted to the dark-n ess in his songs,” Marx said from his home just outside Chicago.

“So I felt a kinship to him without ever knowing him,” Marx said. “I was doing a gig down in Florida, and it was around the Super Bowl in Tampa that year it was 2000 I guess … so we were playing on this big main stage in downtown, and Vertical Horizon was playing down the street later that night. So unbeknownst to me, Matt was a fan of mine, and the band was too, so they came to see my show and they asked to meet me. So when my tour man-a ger came in, he didn’t even know who they were, and when he said there’s this band that wants to say hi to you, they’re called Vertical Horizon, it was like the Beatles wanted to say hi to me. I loved that band. So it was sort of like an instant mutual admiration society.”