Dan Navarro

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Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter/guitarist Dan Navarro spent most of his career in a writing and performing partnership with Eric Lowen. He was born September 14, 1952, in Los Angeles, CA, the son…
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Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter/guitarist Dan Navarro spent most of his career in a writing and performing partnership with Eric Lowen. He was born September 14, 1952, in Los Angeles, CA, the son of Gabriel Navarro, Jr., a publicist, and Josephine (Lucero) Navarro. In 1957, the family moved to the Mexican border town of Calexico. Navarro returned to Los Angeles to attend UCLA in 1969. There he began playing the guitar and writing songs in his sophomore year. After he left college in 1974, he sought a career in the music business, achieving his first success when outlaw country singer Rusty Wier recorded his song "I Think It's Time (I Learned How to Let Her Go)" in 1976. In 1977, he took a job as a singing waiter at a restaurant in West Hollywood, leaving in 1978 for a brief tour backing up Severin Browne. When he returned, he found he had been replaced by Lowen; the two became friends and began writing and performing together.

After Navarro spent nearly a year in England in 1980, he returned and joined Lowen's band, a power pop group called Bon Mot. They played around Los Angeles in the early '80s without getting a record deal, and Navarro left in 1983 because he was unwilling to quit his day job working in his uncle's advertising agency. But he continued to write. He gained credits in TV movies, placing songs in the made-for-television films The Mogul (1984) and Surviving (1985). He and Lowen first gained recognition when Pat Benatar featured their song "We Belong" on her album Tropico, released on November 24, 1984. The track was issued as a single that peaked at number five in the Billboard Hot 100 on January 5, 1985. Navarro and David Bryant wrote "Remember Your Heart," a song featured on Dionne Warwick's gold-selling Friends album in December 1985. Lowen and Navarro wrote songs for the films Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol (1987; "It's Time to Move") and Casual Sex? (1988; "[She's A] Wild Card"), and Navarro had a performing credit on the soundtrack to the film Roxanne (1987; "Party Tonight"). Lowen and Navarro were brought in as writers on the Bangles' third album, Everything, released in October 1988, co-writing "Something to Believe In" with David White and the group's Michael Steele and "I'll Set You Free" with White and the group's Susanna Hoffs; the album reached the Top 20 and went platinum. (Another song by Hoffs, Lowen, and Navarro, "Everything I Wanted," eventually turned up on the Bangles' platinum-selling Greatest Hits in May 1990.)

Live Wire
In the wake of the success of "We Belong," Lowen had formed the band 20 Times, for which he and Navarro wrote songs. But by the late '80s, they had decided to form their own duo. They began performing as Lowen & Navarro with a residency at the Breakaway in Venice, CA, in January 1988. Singing in two-part harmony and accompanying themselves on acoustic guitars, they were considered part of the "nu-folk" movement of the time. They gave a showcase performance at Club Lingerie in Los Angeles on January 31, 1989. The concert was recorded and released in 1996 as Live Wire. Meanwhile, Lowen & Navarro were signed to the startup label Chameleon Records for their debut album, Walking on a Wire, released on May 12, 1990. From the LP, the track "What I Make Myself Believe" was featured in the 1991 film Blue Desert. (In addition to his work with Lowen, Navarro co-wrote "Test of Love" with Billy Burnette for the 1990 Dave Edmunds album Closer to the Flame.) Unfortunately, Chameleon Records underwent a restructuring in 1991, dropping nearly all its acts, including Lowen & Navarro. They continued to perform, however, and they had another songwriting success when they co-wrote "You Don't Have to Go Home Tonight" with the Triplets, Diana, Sylvia, and Vicky Villegas, whose recording of the song peaked in the Top 20 in May 1991. The Triplets recorded for Mercury Records, which helped lead to a new deal for Lowen & Navarro on the Mercury imprint Parachute Records, a custom label specifically formed to record adult-pop artists. Parachute issued their second album, Broken Moon, on October 20, 1993, and their third, Pendulum, on August 30, 1995. (Meanwhile, "Just to See You" from Broken Moon was featured in the 1994 film Color of Night.) Then, Parachute, too, discontinued operations.

Scratch at the Door
Forming their own label, Red Hen Records, Lowen & Navarro released Live Wire, then signed to the Atlanta, GA-based independent Intersound Records, which reissued that album and followed on August 25, 1998, with the duo's fourth studio album, Scratch at the Door. Their bad luck with record companies continued, however, and they were soon without a label again, although they were building up a following through touring in folk clubs and at folk festivals around the U.S. On August 21, 2001, Artemis Records released the self-titled album by Jacob Young, to which Lowen and Navarro contributed heavily, co-writing several songs, playing, and singing. They resurrected Red Hen with the release on February 21, 2002, of Live Radio, a collection of their performances on the L.A. radio show FolkScene during the 1990s. Their holiday album At Long Last… Christmas appeared on November 1, 2002. On February 8, 2003, they opened for Don Conoscenti at Eddie's Attic in Decatur, GA, and the show was captured for the album 3 for the Road: Live! at Eddie's Attic, released by Mad Raine later in 2003.

All the Time in the World
On March 17, 2004, as Lowen & Navarro worked on their next studio album (financed by contributions from fans), Lowen was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (aka ALS and Lou Gehrig's Disease), the rare, incurable, essentially untreatable illness that gradually causes paralysis and death. Notwithstanding the diagnosis, the duo completed the album, All the Time in the World, and released it on September 21, 2004. Navarro had always done sessions as a backup vocalist in addition to his work with Lowen, especially Spanish-language recordings, notably appearing over the years on albums by such artists as Luis Miguel, José José, Julio Iglesias, José Feliciano, Jon Anderson, and Enrique Iglesias, as well as on soundtracks to such films as Batman Forever, The Emperor's New Groove, The Mexican, Man on Fire, That Old Feeling, and Envy, as well as TV series and commercials. Starting in the mid-2000s, he increased such work with appearances on albums by Neil Young and the Kennedys, among others, and on the soundtracks for the animated films Robots (2005), Happy Feet (2006), Ice Age: The Meltdown (2006), and Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (2009).

Hogging the Covers
Aware that time was against them, Lowen & Navarro next recorded an album of other people's songs, Hogging the Covers (October 16, 2006), then assembled a live DVD, Carry on Together…, released by AIX Entertainment on July 3, 2007, and finally issued another studio album of original material, Learning to Fall (co-billed to longtime sideman Phil Parlapiano) on December 2, 2008. Due to the progress of Lowen's illness, Lowen & Navarro gave their final live performance on June 6, 2009, in Alexandria, VA. A week later, Navarro appeared at McCabe's Guitar Shop in Los Angeles accompanied by the band Stonehoney, launching his solo career. The show was recorded and released by Red Hen later in the year as his debut solo album, Live at McCabe's. On January 5, 2010, AIX released the CD Keep the Light Alive: Celebrating the Music of Lowen & Navarro, a charity album benefitting ALS organizations and featuring the duo's songs as performed by Jackson Browne, John Ondrasik of Five for Fighting, Keb' Mo', the Bangles, and others. Lowen & Navarro's 12th annual cruise, a weeklong jaunt along the Mexican coast, was held January 3-10, 2010.