Richard Marx plans to just hang out with the audience tonight at The Colonial Theatre

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PITTSFIELD >> Pop titan Richard Marx is one of those performers who was literally born into the business.

"There was music in my house from Day One," he said in a telephone interview, noting that his father was a musician who later wrote jingles for commercials and his mother a singer whom his father eventually hired to sing the jingles.

Marx recalls going directly from elementary school to a recording studio where his parents were working.

"The cool thing for me, growing up in the 1960s, was that while the parents of most of my friends were listening to jazz and classical music, my parents were turning me on to The Eagles and the Rolling Stones," he said with a laugh. "But I feel very blessed. It was such an amazing world. I knew what I wanted to do when I was five year old. I know guys who are 50 and still don't know what they want to do."

Marx will be appearing at the Colonial Theatre tonight in a solo acoustic show.

"With a solo show, it's kind of like I'm just hanging out with the audience," said Marx. "It's just me and a guitar on stage. I'm up there, and I just play a little and tell some stories.

"I have an appreciation now for my audience that I may not have had a few years ago," he said.

Marx no longer embarks on extensive tours, he said.

"No, I'll do a few shows, and I'll take a week off, or 10 days off or a month off, and then I'll do a few more shows," he said. "It's almost like a vacation for me. You know, some guys take golf vacations. I take these vacations where I play music. But if I'm coming to your hometown, it's because I want to."

Marx, who has sold more than 30 million records in his career, also landed seven consecutive Top Five singles on the Billboard pop charts at one point, still a record.

His songwriting influences are varied, from Bert Bachrach to Peter Gabriel. But Marx explained that one writer stands out for him.

"There was a point when I was just immersed in country music," he said. "Merle Haggard, Conway Twitty, Waylon Jennings. I was maybe 11 or 12.

"And I remember my dad sitting me down one afternoon and saying, 'I'd like you to listen to this guy.' And he played Paul Simon's 'Still Crazy After All These Years.'

"I was mesmerized," said Marx with a laugh. "It was like meeting God. The lyrics, the chord changes, the arrangements, It blew me away. I was humbled that someone could write songs like that."

Several years ago, Marx said, he had an opportunity to meet Simon and talk about songwriting.

"I got a chance to tell him how much he influenced me," said Marx. "He was very humble. He said, 'Well, I hope I never let you down.' Ha! Not yet."

Contact Derek Gentile at 413-496-6251.

IN CONCERT

Who: Richard Marx

When: Tonight at 8

Where: The Colonial Theatre, 111 South St., Pittsfield

Tickets: $55, $40

How: (413) 997-4444; berkshiretheatregroup.org; directly at Colonial Theatre box office, 111 South St., Pittsfield


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