Keith Sykes
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Keith Sykes

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Music

The best kept secret in music

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Discography

Keith Sykes (1970) Vanguard

1-2-3 (1972) Vanguard

The Way That I Feel (1977) RCA’s Midland International

I’m Not Strange I’m Just Like You (1980) Backstreet Records

It Don’t Hurt To Flirt (1982) Backstreet Records

Play X Play (1984) Memphis Records

Fun Rockin’ (1985) Memphis Records

It’s About Time (1992) Oh Boy Records

Advanced Medication For The Blues (1998) Syren Records

Songwriters on Beale Street (1999) Syren Records

Don't Count Us Out (2001) Syren Records

All I Know (2004) Mad Jack Records

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Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

Nearly 30 years ago, a young Keith Sykes walked into a pawnshop on Memphis’ famed Beale Street and paid $20 for his first guitar. Since then, Sykes has made a name for himself as a guitarist/songwriter/producer extraordinaire, contributing to projects from artists as diverse as Jimmy Buffett, John Prine, Guy Clark, Jerry Jeff Walker, Todd Snider, Rosanne Cash and Patty Loveless.

Now on his eleventh record All I Know (newly released on Madjack Records). Legendary songwriter Keith Sykes has engaged in every aspect of the music business for more than three decades. Certainly, he's mastered the songwriting aspect of it, with tunes covered by the likes of Jerry Jeff Walker, John Prine, Guy Clark, Rosanne Cash and Rodney Crowell, among others. All I Know is classic Sykes, and he's invited a lot of friends to make it happen including Kelly Mickwee, Eric Lewis and other great Memphis musicians like Ross Rice and Jimmy Davis. Jerry Jeff Walker also duets with Keith on a tune they co-wrote together, the bayou-flavored "It Don't Matter." This self-produced collection contains great new country/folk material with covers from Guy Clark ("Baby Took A Limo To Memphis") and Nancy Apple ("Hard Luck And Old Dogs").

A native of Murray, Kentucky, Sykes moved to Memphis when he was just 8 years old. It was then, as a senior in high school, that he bought that first guitar for $20 at a pawnshop on Beale Street. After graduation, his mother gave him a lift to the edge of town, where he began hitchhiking for the next two years, taking odd jobs and ultimately ending up in New York City to showcase at The Bitter End.

From there he toured nationally on the College Coffee House Circuit. In 1968, two of his songs were recorded by other artists: The Gentrys cut “Silky” on the Bell label and the Lonesome Rhodes did “I’m Missing You” for RCA. In 1970, Vanguard released Sykes’ self-titled debut album. Two years later, he went to Japan to play the lead role in the movie “Summer Soldiers.” Vanguard released his second album, 1-2-3, while Sykes was out of the country making the movie.In 1973, Keith swapped New York for Austin, Texas, then moved on to Key West, Florida, where he met up with Jimmy Buffett. Keith served a brief stint in Buffett’s road band, after Buffett recorded two of Keith’s songs on the platinum Son of a Son of a Sailor LP. Keith later co-wrote what was to become the Parrot-head anthem, “Volcano.” In 1974, Keith made his way back to Memphis, where he has lived ever since.

In 1977, RCA’s Midland International released Sykes’ third album, The Way That I Feel. Sykes was on a roll as a highly acclaimed songwriter and recording artist. His 1980 Backstreet Records release I’m Not Strange I'm Just Like You subsequently led to an appearance on Saturday Night Live and later a guest spot on Austin City Limits.Over the years Sykes has been featured in Time and Newsweek magazines and garnered record reviews in Rolling Stone. More records followed: It Don’t Hurt To Flirt in 1982; two albums for Memphis Records in 1984 and 1985, and in 1992 Oh Boy Records released It’s About Time, a singer/songwriter album.Sykes had one or more songs, (either on LPs or singles, as a writer, co-writer or publisher), on one of Billboard’s music or movie charts continuously from 1978 through 1984, then again from 1986 to this year.

The artists who have covered his songs sounds like a seating chart at The Grammy Awards, including not only Buffett but also Jerry Jeff Walker, Patty Loveless, Guy Clark, John Prine, The Judds, Rosanne Cash, Lacy Jay Dalton and Rodney Crowell, among others.

In 1986 Sykes began to work with new artists and signed John Kilzer to his production and publishing company. The demos he produced for Kilzer’s songs became Kilzer’s debut Geffen Records album and Sykes’ first home run as a producer.“Producing came out of left field for me,” Sykes says. “I didn’t set out to do it, but I seem to have a knack for it.” That album opened up the playing field for Sykes as a producer. Keith soon began mentoring Todd Snider, signing him to his publishing company in 1990 and securing Snider a record deal with MCA/Margaritaville in 1993. He has completed projects for Tommy Tutone, GaryBoy, premier songwriter John Prine and veteran hit-maker B.J. Thomas.

Sykes still works as preceptor to many up and coming artists, but in 1995 he began focusing once again on his own recording career. He began hosting a songwriter’s showcase on celebrated Beale Street in Memphis, and each month features some of the country’s premier songwriters. From that showcase has come one great Syren produced Songwriter's On Beale Street CD with another in the making. All the while he has continued to gather and refine precious jewels: his collection of songs.

Sykes, along with partner Kelcy Warren, also built Syren Records' own recording studio called The Woodshed. Built in a fantastic setting, complete with a beautiful spring-fed lake in back, the Woodshe