Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter/guitarist Eric Lowen spent most of his career in a writing and performing partnership with Dan Navarro. He was born David Eric Lowen October 23, 1951, in Utica, New…
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Eric Lowen Biography

by William Ruhlmann

Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter/guitarist Eric Lowen spent most of his career in a writing and performing partnership with Dan Navarro. He was born David Eric Lowen October 23, 1951, in Utica, New York, the son of a Baptist minister father and a mother who was a former music teacher. He grew up in Utica, Ridgewood, New Jersey, and Greece, New York, as his father periodically changed congregations. Just prior to the move to Greece, New York, when he was in the ninth grade, his parents gave him a guitar for Christmas, and he soon learned to play it. He was in bands in high school, and while attending Brockport State College, he formed a singing duo with another aspiring performer, Christine Lavin, that lasted a year. He graduated with a degree in English literature and held menial jobs until Lavin helped him secure work as a backup musician to Bert Sommer. In that capacity, he moved to Los Angeles and got his first recording credit on Sommer's 1977 self-titled LP for Capitol Records. After leaving Sommer, he got a job as a singing waiter in a restaurant in West Hollywood, and there met Navarro, whom he had replaced when Navarro went off on a short tour backing up Severin Browne. Lowen and Navarro became friends, and they played in a local band, Bon Mot. They also began writing songs together and gained recognition when Pat Benatar featured their composition "We Belong" (on which Lowen was identified as David Lowen) 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. 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 they 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 LP in May 1990.) Apart from Navarro, Lowen and Peter Peterkin co-wrote the song "Next Time," which appeared on the Four Tops' album Indestructible, released in September 1988.

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, California, 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, the duo was signed to the startup label Chameleon Records for their debut album, Walking on a Wire, released on May 12, 1990. The track "What I Make Myself Believe" was featured in the 1991 film Blue Desert, and the album's final track was "Hammerhead Shark," written by Lowen and Preston Sturges, which was covered by David Lee Roth on his gold-selling album A Little Ain't Enough in January 1991. 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.

Forming their own label, Red Hen Records, Lowen & Navarro released Live Wire, then signed to the Atlanta, Georgia-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 of Live Radio on February 21, 2002, a collection of their performances on the L.A. radio show FolkScene during the '90s. 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, Georgia, and the show was captured for the album 3 for the Road: Live! at Eddie's Attic, released by Mad Raine later in 2003.

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. Aware that time was now against them, they 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 progression of Lowen's illness, Lowen & Navarro gave their final live performance on June 6, 2009, in Alexandria, Virginia. 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. The duo's 12th annual cruise, a weeklong jaunt along the Mexican coast, was held January 3-10, 2010. Eric Lowen died of complications from ALS on March 23, 2012 in Los Angeles; he was 60 years old.

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