Myron Tone's "I Don't Wanna Grow Up" Bio
Utata's Big Project: Musical Notes
Born Myron Klumke in 1969 in Park Ridge, Illinois, a working class suburb of Chicago, little is known about his formative years besides what anecdotes Myron himself has shared. “Most of what I can remember from when I was a kid was the chemical smell of my parents’ offset print shop.” His first exposure to music proved to be habit-forming but sadly short-lived. “When I was growing up, my father was a huge fan of Queen. If it wasn’t ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ blaring through the car’s 8-track player, it was ‘We Are the Champions.’ My father, who was a notorious drunk, died in a car accident when I was 9. I inherited his tabletop and record collection. All I wanted to listen to was Queen. I loved the stuff, but when my grandmother found out that Freddie Mercury was gay, she took my entire collection and threw it in the trash. Being a staunch old world catholic and not too bright a bulb, she thought that me listening to the music might make me gay too. From then on till I was a teenager, it was nothing but Burt Bacharach and the Righteous Brothers.”
With the untimely death of his father and his musical interest railroaded, Myron searched for other outlets to vent his frustrations. “I developed an interest in repetitive manual labor. When I was 16, I got a summer job at a chemical factory. They put me at the head of the line of the bottling machine. My job was to unpack and load the empty bottles on to one conveyor belt and load the empty boxes on another. I would do it for hours and was always a little sad when the day was over.” Shortly thereafter he dropped out of high school in favor of bottling full time. That’s when Myron met his one true friend, Bob. “Bob was about the only person I could stand to stay in a room with for longer than 30 minutes. I met him in line at a local burger shop. He was a geek with a pair of Lee jeans, a striped button-down shirt, a pocket protector, and a pair of glasses with taped rims. He was singing a Screamin’ Jay Hawkins song that happen to grab my attention. I asked him about it and he proceeded to give me a complete detailed biography of Screamin’ Jay. I was slack-jaw fascinated. He invited me over to his place to hear his collection of obscure 50’s and 60’s blues and r & b and to watch him play Bard’s Tale on his Commodore 64. We’ve been friends ever since.”
Magic Sam, Otis Rush, and Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown became the soundtrack for Myron’s reawakening obsession with music. His fixation led Myron to legally change his name to Tone. “I chose Tone because the sound of the word coming off anyones’ lips seemed to resonate with any and all the feelings I have when listening to music. I wanted to be a part of that vibe.”
When Myron turned twenty-one, two events occurred that would forever change his life. First, he bought an acoustic guitar and tried his hand at learning how to play the music that he loved so much. Second, was the beginning of a fixated love affair that would lead him to another continent, the Ocellated Skink. “The first time I laid eyes on one was in an exotic pet shop in Skokie. That elongated body, those smooth, shiny scales, the short, stumpy limbs, they all spoke to me of peace, tranquility, and Squamata. I ended up saving up some money, selling most of my things, and packing up my guitar for a trip to Morocco and the palm oases where Ocellated Skinks make their home. It was my third month there crawling through the scrub when I met this guy who called himself Sting.”
Sting met Myron while on a trip to study the traditional music of Berber culture. Sting’s interest in Myron stemmed not only from the fact that Myron had no clue who Sting was, but also at the appearance of a strange American man crawling through the Moroccan scrub with a guitar strapped to his back looking for skinks. Sting invited Myron back to his hotel. “I think he was curious and wanted to see if there was more to me than just appearance. I was nervous about leaving my work, but the idea of a decent cup of coffee sounded too good to pass up.”
When they got back to Sting’s suite in Casablanca, Sting asked Myron to play for him. Myron played one song and Sting was hooked. “He told me he was into polyrhythms so I played a version of St. James Infirmary in 5/4 time because I thought he’d like it. The next thing I knew, I was on a plane to London to help write and record rhythm guitar for ‘Ten Summoner’s Tales.’”
After an extended world tour in support of Sting, Myron’s exposure to the limelight of the music business left him jaded. “I hated the crowds, the hotel rooms, the plane flights, and wine cooler-addled fans. I don’t get how anybody could think that kind of life is glamorous.” Myron graciously bowed out of his professional relationship with Sting. Myron had a hankering for making movie soundtracks. In 1995 he prowled the Sundance film festival and managed to score the contacts that would see his hand in the musical direction of both “When We Were Kings” and “I Shot Andy Warhol.”
In late 1997 Wyclef Jean approached Myron to produce an album of instrumental music based on the idea of 6 pieces of dueling banjo-esque material called “6-string vs. Turntable.” Myron was reluctant at first. “I didn’t think I had the technical prowess. I was sure it was going to be a waste of time, but Wyclef played me a couple of tracks off Portishead’s first album and I knew immediately what he was getting at. Wyclef sealed the deal when he told me that Portishead’s Geoff Barrow would be my ‘opponent.’” Recording started in early 1999 and the finished product hit the shelves just in time for Christmas. Although it was greeted with critical acclaim and a small cult following grew for years thereafter, the album was a commercial flop.
Sickened by the album’s public reception, Myron gave up. “I folded. I sold most of my belongings, hopped a plane to Thailand, bought and parked a used camper near a beach, and decided to create a version of Buddhism based on achieving oneness by consuming copious amounts of alcohol.” Myron spent the entire first decade of the 21st century in a calm and peaceful stupor. Still fortune would not leave him alone. “Every couple of months or so, I’d get someone from the music business knocking on my door and asking if I wanted to work again. Elvis Costello, Bob Rock, Philip Glass, Simon Cowell, you name it. The more I said no, the more they’d ask. After a while I started telling people that if they wanted me to work again, they’d first have to give me complete control, and second find a way to make Korean pop music famous around the world.”
After Park Jae-Sang’s single went viral in September 2012, Myron made a phone call to Jack White. “I told him that my wish had been granted and that I’d love to work with him on what would be my comeback debut album of cover songs. He said he had no clue who I was, but that he was intrigued. I hopped the first plane to Nashville and one month later we had ‘I Don’t Wanna Grow Up.’”
Myron Tone has no plans to tour and does not wish to be disturbed any further.