Donnie Barren played lead guitar for the Los Angeles rock band "City Lights" in the late 1970's and early 1980's, writing and singing songs for the group's single ("Action/Back Off Babe") and EP ("Blackout"). Some of the more fun gigs were at the Whiskey a Go-Go, Starwood, Gazzarri's, and the Troubadour, where City Lights shared the stage with bands like Dokken, Ratt, Snow, X, Oingo Boingo, Joshua, and Dubrow (formerly Quiet Riot).
Donnie ventured out on his own in 1982, releasing the single "I Love My Cat's Meow/Falling In Love" in March 1983 (acting as musician, singer/songwriter, producer and promo-man). The tune was well received, being played on over 15 Southern California radio stations during its 1st month and garnering college radio coverage across the USA and in Germany.
"Cat's Meow" hit # 1 on LA's KXLU & KCLU, and then entered KROQ's "Rodney on the Roq's" Top 10 in April (at # 7), and moved to # 1 for all of May and June. At the time, KROQ (FM 106.7 in Pasadena, CA) was the # 1 Album Oriented Rock (AOR) station in LA and was regarded as the new music trend-setter across the US. For perspective, Nena's "99 Balloons" (CBS Records) held the #1 position on "Rodney on the Roq's" Top 10 the following month, July of 1983. This was long before other AOR stations added the German song to their play lists, ultimately making "99 Balloons" a national Top 40 Hit.
Unfortunately, just as Cat's Meow was climbing the charts, Donnie's distribution partner (Faulty Products, a division of IRS/A&M Records) ran out of money and stopped promoting its stable of artists (groups like the Bangles, Dead Kennedys & DOA). Looking back, it's ironic that Donnie signed up with a label called "Faulty Products", but they were considered one of the best "new music" distributors at the time. If they had put some promotion support behind the single, the song could have had a strong national showing.
Donnie went back into the studio and recorded nine other tracks in 1983, planning to create an album to accompany the Cat's Meow single. While he was shopping this 11-song package to record companies, he became even more intrigued with the business side of the music industry and opted to take a break to finish his education. Donnie ended up earning an MBA from Harvard and then diving into the business world (albeit not the music biz), working for Procter & Gamble and Microsoft.
As a result, these 11 songs sat on a shelf for more than two decades. Realizing that his kids were old enough to understand a bit about music, he re-released "Cat's Meow/Falling in Love" as well as the nine previously unreleased tunes in 2005/06 with the hope that the CD would spur a musical interest his two children. If nothing else, he figured maybe he'd have two new fans.
Shortly thereafter, Donnie hooked up with the Seattle-based band "Indigo Soul", where he handled the lead guitar work for their "More Punch Than Punch Line" CD. Those sessions led to a renewed interest in recording, and Donnie started writing and laying down tracks for a rock-oriented instrumental CD titled "Freedom". You can pick up his "Freedom" album on Amazon, iTunes, or CDBaby. You can also give the songs a listen on Spotify or in the "Albums" section of this site.
Most recently, Donnie's "Can't You See The World Through My Eyes" was used in Season 2 of the Netflix hit show "GLOW."
Some people have asked: "Donnie who?" When Donnie was younger, he thought his last name was too long for a musician, so Donnie opted to use his middle name. Now, many years the wiser, Donnie's decided to release these tracks using his real last name. So, for those people that knew Donnie Barren (or "dB" for short), we'd like to introduce you to Don Holtzinger.
Drop Donnie a line by signing the guest book. Or, if you use Facebook, like his page (@donniebarrenholtzinger) and then send him a message. I know he'd like to hear from you.