Roland Jaime Orzabal de la Quintana was born on August 22, 1961 in Portsmouth, England. He is a record producer, English musician, and songwriter. He is famous for the most part as a co-founding member of Tears for Fears, of which he is the lead vocalist and main songwriter, but he has also achieved achievement as a producer of other artists.
Orzabal’s mother is English and his father is from Paris, but of Spanish-Basque descent. Orzabal was originally named “Raoul” at birth for two weeks, but this was afterward changed to Roland to anglicize the name as they were living in England. He was brought up in Bath, attending Culverhay School and becoming a member of the Zenith Youth Theatre Company.
During their early teen days, Orzabal met Curt Smith in Bath, England. During the late-1970s, they formed a mod music group called Graduate, together with three other members. The group disbanded soon after releasing their debut album, Acting My Age. Orzabal and Smith then formed Tears for Fears; a synth pop/new wave music outfit frankly enthused by the writings of Arthur Janov, an American psychologist.
Orzabal has been married to his wife Caroline since 1982. They have two children, Raoul and Pascal.
At the height of Tears for Fears’ popularity in 1985, Orzabal gained considerable press attention for his strained relationship with his father and a humorous cartoon was printed in the UK tabloid The Sun pertaining to this. The cartoon was later reprinted within the cover artwork for the Tears for Fears single “I Believe”.
On top of co-producing most of Tears for Fears’ records, Orzabal also co-produced Oleta Adams’ successful album Circle of One (1990) together with Dave Bascombe, following on from Adams’ collaboration on the 1989 Tears for Fears album The Seeds of Love. The album reached #1 in the UK and #20 in the US, and featured her transatlantic top ten hit “Get Here”. Orzabal also co-wrote the lead track “Rhythm of Life” for the album, which was at first intended for The Seeds of Love. He also appeared in the song’s accompanying music video, as well as played guitar and sang backing vocals on the track.
After a decade of major international success, Orzabal and Smith had an unfriendly split in the early 1990s. Orzabal continued to work as Tears for Fears after he and Smith parted ways, the subsequent TFF albums Elemental (1993) and Raoul and the Kings of SpainÂ (1995) are in fact solo works by him in all but name. Elemental was a success being certified as Gold status in the US and Silver in the UK, while Raoul took a more artistic direction garnering less chart success. In 2001 he released his first proper solo album, Tomcats Screaming Outside, under his own name as he and Smith had reconciled by that point and were working on a new Tears for Fears album together (2004’s Everybody Loves a Happy Ending).
In 1999, Orzabal also co-produced the Icelandic singer-songwriter Emiliana Torrini’s acclaimed album Love In The Time Of Science, along with Tears for Fears associate Alan Griffiths. The pair also wrote two tracks for the album.
Although he did not produce it, Orzabal’s talents as a songwriter were known again in recent years after Gary Jules’ cover version of the song “Mad World” became the Christmas #1 single in the UK in 2003. It is taken from the soundtrack of the film Donnie Darko. The song was composed originally by Orzabal and was Tears for Fears’ 1982 first hit single.