Black Francis Biography

Black Francis is an popular American singer and songwriter. This biography provides details of his childhood, early life, career, major works, personal life, legacy and trivia.

Black Francis

Quick Facts

Also known as: Charles Michael Kittridge Thompson IV (English), Charles Michael
Gender: Male
Birthday: 06 April 1965
Nationality: American
Sun Sign: Aries
Education: University of Massachusetts Amherst

Black Francis is one of the stage names of Charles Michael Kittridge Thompson IV, an American singer, songwriter and guitarist. He shot into prominence as the founder and lead singer of the influential alternative rock band Pixies, with whom he performs using the stage name Black Francis. When the group disbanded in 1993, he embarked on a solo career under the name Frank Black. After the release of two albums with 4AD, he left the label and formed a new band, Frank Black and the Catholics. The Catholics became defunct when Black Francis re united with Pixies. His musical style covered multiple genres. Songs such as Velvety, and Headache are more on the light rock side and Something Against You and Thalassocracy suggest a more heavy rock influence. In his albums with Nashville artists there is a strong evidence of country music. His vocals are often interspersed with screaming and yowling or delivered in a slower and harmonious style He was influenced as a teenager by folk, religious, punk and the new wave music popular at that time. As a song writer he shows an obsession with unconventional topics such as outer space and UFOs, incest and biblical violence. He has received praise from his contemporaries like Thom Yorke and the late Kurt Cobain.

Childhood & Early Life

Black Francis was born in Boston, Massachusetts, as Charles Michael Kittridge Thompson IV. He lived in Los Angeles, California as a baby because his father wanted to "learn more about the restaurant and bar business"
He was introduced to music at an early age, as his parents listened to 1960s folk rock. He began playing on his mother's Yamaha classical guitar by the time he was twelve.
His biological parents separated and his family moved around with his stepfather who pursued real estate business. In 1977, they joined a church and he discovered Christian rock singer-songwriter Larry Norman.
He graduated from high school in 1983, studied in the University of Massachusetts Amherst, majoring in anthropology and became the room mate of Joey Santiago who introduced him to the music of David Bowie.
In his second year of college, he went on a trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico as part of an exchange program and spent six months in an apartment with a "weird, psycho roommate.


Back in Massachusetts, he dropped out of college, and moved to Boston with Santiago. He worked in a warehouse in 1985 composed songs on his acoustic guitar, and wrote lyrics on the subway train.
In 1986, he formed the Pixies with Santiago, Bassist Kim Deal, and Drummer David Lovering. They released a demo and a mini album Come on Pilgrim and Thompson adopted the alias, Black Francis.
In 1988, Pixies recorded their debut album, Surfer Rosa, in which he wrote and sang on all the tracks, with the exception of the single, Gigantic, co-written and sung by Deal.
Pixies recorded two albums in the 1990s-Bossanova and Trompe le Monde, the latter was in collaboration with Eric Feldman, an keyboard player, and characterized by Thompson's by a focus on, aliens and UFOs.
In 1993, Pixies broke up and Francis adopted the stage name, Frank Black and released the solo album, Frank Black, characterized by a focus on UFOs and science fiction.
In 1996, he released the album, The Cult of Ray, a reference to science-fiction writer Ray Bradbury. Its final song is a tribute to Shazeb Andleeb, beaten to death at a California school.
He formed a new band, Frank Black and the Catholics, and recorded their eponymous first album and released in it in 1998. It became the first album to be posted to the eMusic service.
Between1999 and 2003, Frank Black and the Catholics released five more albums -Pistolero,Dog in the Sand, Black Letter Days, Devil's Workshop which included the song Velvety, and Show Me Your Tears.
In 2003, Pixies reunited and in the following year, Frank Black Francis, a double album bridging the gap between his two personas was released consisting of solo demos of Pixies songs.
In 2004, he began to collaborate with a group of Nashville session men, Steve Cropper, Spooner Oldham, Reggie Young, Anton Fig and producer Jon Tiven. They collectively released, Honeycomb, under the Frank Black name.
He continued to tour with the Pixies between 2005 and 2006. Almost defunct, the Catholics released two separate albums of B-sides and rarities, Snake Oil and One More Road for the Hit.
In 2007, two albums were released, a "best of" compilation, Frank Black 93-03, and the album, Bluefinger under his former stage name Black Francis and inspired by Herman Brood, a Dutch musician.
He turned producer in 2009 with the release of the Art Brut album Art Brut vs. Satan. He gave interviews with the bands front man Eddie Argos about the album.
Black Francis released NonStopErotik in 2010 and contributed the song "I Heard Ramona Sing" to the soundtrack for the film, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, released later that year.
In 2011, in Nashville, an album of new songs written and performed with collaborator Reid Paley, as Paley & Francis was released. The album features Reid Paley and Black Francis on guitars and vocals.

Major Works

Black Francis’ 1994 solo album, Teenager of the Year ,produced by Eric Drew Feldman was critically well received and was even being named to Pitchfork's Top 100 Albums of the 90's
Dog in the Sand, 2001, a high point in Frank Black’ career branched away from purely electric rock to incorporate acoustic guitar, pedal steel, and Rhodes Piano and Wurlitzer organ into the sonic template.

Personal Life & Legacy

Thompson lives in Portland, Oregon, and is married to Violet Clark, his second wife, with whom he has three children, along with her two children from previous relationships


He declared, “I think that morality is not God-given or even acquired through religion, it's natural, innate and, to be honest, pretty damn obvious. It's obvious you shouldn't steal, kill or be cruel”
Vincent Delerm , a young French singer-songwriter has referenced this American singer in hit song, Veruca Salt Et Frank Black, in his fourth, album Kensington Square

Citation Information

Article Title

Black Francis Biography

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Last Updated

June 26, 2019

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