The Merry-Go-Round had a recording contract with A&M Records when they disbanded in 1969. Rhodes recorded songs at A&M to fulfill that contract, but A&M decided to not release it at the time. Rhodes then decided to go out on his own and bought equipment to make a recording studio in his parents' garage. Rhodes recorded his first album (Emitt Rhodes) in that home studio. He got a recording contract with ABC/Dunhill Records, who released his album, as well as the next two albums he recorded (Mirror and Farewell to Paradise). Rhodes got a $5,000 advance for Emitt Rhodes, which he spent on recording equipment. His first album was a critical success – Billboard called Rhodes "one of the finest artists on the music scene today" and later called his first album one of the "best albums of the decade". The album reached number 29 on the Billboard charts. The single "Fresh as a Daisy" reached number 54 on the pop chart. Meanwhile, shortly after Emitt Rhodes was released by Dunhill, A&M decided to release their old recordings of The American Dream, which confused record buyers. Mirror was released in 1971 and did reach the top 200 on Billboard's album chart. In 1973 Dunhill released Rhodes' final album, Farewell to Paradise.
Rhodes wrote all of the songs on his albums. On Emitt Rhodes, Mirror, and Farewell to Paradise, he played all of the instruments and sang all of the vocals while recording himself in his home recording studio. He used a four-track recorder for the instruments for Emitt Rhodes and transferred those to an eight-track recorder to add the vocals. He used an eight-track recorder for Mirror, and Farewell to Paradise. The mixdown engineer on Farewell to Paradise was Curt Boettcher, the producer and musician who is best remembered for his work on the "soft pop" albums by Sagittarius and The Millennium.
Rhodes' contract with Dunhill called for an album every six months (six albums over three years) – a schedule that was impossible for Rhodes to meet, due to writing all of the songs and recording each instrument and vocal individually by himself. Dunhill sued Rhodes for $250,000 and withheld royalties because of his failure to deliver albums on the timescale required by the contract. Emitt Rhodes took nearly a year to record, the album Mirror took nine months, and Farewell to Paradise took over a year.
LaterAfter Farewell to Paradise, Rhodes left the music business as a performer and released no more material, except on compilations. He continued to record his songs in his studio, but they were unreleased except for one song on Listen, Listen. He worked as a recording engineer and record producer for Elektra Records. He runs his own studio for recording other acts.
Rhodes' song "Lullabye" (from Emitt Rhodes) was featured in the 2001 Wes Anderson film The Royal Tenenbaums.
In January and February 2009, Italian director Cosimo Messeri shot a documentary movie about Emitt Rhodes's vicissitudes: life, past, present, troubles and hopes. The movie, entitled The One Man Beatles, was selected for the International Rome Film Festival 2009, and received standing ovations. In 2010 "The One Man Beatles" was nominated for David di Donatello Award as Best Documentary of 2010. Its US Premiere screening is scheduled for May 29, 2010 at the Rhino Records Pop Up Store in Westwood, California.
Also in 2009, after many years of rumors as to the possibility of a new CD, Emitt once again entered the recording studios with a new band and all new material. He is joined by the co-founder of The Grass Roots and The Merry-Go-Round drummer Joel Larson, co-founder and former bassist for Counting Crows, Matt Malley, and guitarists Jim Rolfe and Dan Mayer. Also participating on three of Emitt's new songs is legendary guitarist Richard Thompson, whose band Fairport Convention covered Emitt's song "Time Will Show the Wiser" in 1967. Bangles' members Vicki Peterson and Debbi Peterson, who covered Emitt's song "Live" on their debut album, also make an appearance.
In 2010, Emitt, along with Rhodes Band’s Matt Malley, joined another ex-member of Fairport Convention, Iain Matthews, on a new version of "Time Will Show the Wiser", arranged, produced and performed by Nick Vernier Band. This recording, initially released on Nick Vernier Band's "Sessions"-album, marked Emitt's first new release as a featured artist in almost four decades. Both Emitt and Iain recorded this Rhodes-original early on in their careers, the song being starting points as well as signature works for The Merry-Go-Round and Fairport Convention respectively. The new version united the two singers in an Indian musical setting. Also in 2010, a tribute album titled Long Time, No See was released. It contained Emitt Rhodes songs recorded by various artists. On November 3, 2011, Emitt released three new songs on iTunes titled "Just Me And You", "What's A Man to Do" and "This Wall Between Us", featuring back up singing by Vicki and Debbi Peterson of the Bangles, and guitar work by Richard Thompson.
- The Merry-Go-Round (1967, with The Merry-Go-Round) reached #190 on the Billboard 200
- Emitt Rhodes (1970) #29
- Mirror (1971) #182
- The American Dream (1971) #194
- Farewell to Paradise (1973)
- Daisy-Fresh from Hawthorne, California (The Best of the Dunhill Years)
- Daisy-Fresh includes all of the songs from Emmit Rhodes, six songs from Mirror, four songs from Farewell to Paradise, plus the single "Tame the Lion".
- Listen, Listen: The Best of Emitt Rhodes
- Listen, Listen contains five songs from The Merry-Go-Round, one song from The American Dream, seven songs from Emitt Rhodes, four songs from Mirror, two songs from Farewell to Paradise, plus the single "Tame the Lion" and the previously-unreleased 1980 song "Isn't it So".
- The Merry-Go-Round: Listen, Listen: The Definitive Collection
- A nearly complete collection of Merry-Go-Round songs, almost all written and sung by Rhodes. The The Merry-Go-Round (stereo version) and American Dream LPs are included in their entirety, as are the mono mix of "Time Will Show the Wiser" and a few non-album singles. Not included are the mono mix of The Merry-Go-Round and the unique single mixes of "Come Ride, Come Ride" and "'Til the Day After".
- Royal Tenenbaums: Collector's Edition CD
- "Lullabye" appears.
- The Emitt Rhodes Recordings (1969–1972), two CDs:
- CD 1: The American Dream (all thirteen songs from both versions) and Emitt Rhodes
- CD 2: Mirror, Farewell to Paradise, plus the single "Tame the Lion"
with The Merry-Go-Round:
- "Live" #63 on pop chart
- "Time Will Show the Wiser"
- "You're a Very Lovely Woman" #94 on pop chart
- "She Laughed Loud"
- "Listen, Listen"
- "'Til the Day After"
- "Fresh as a Daisy" #54 on pop chart
- "You Take the Dark Out of the Night"
- "Live Till You Die"
- "With My Face on the Floor"
- "Love Will Stone You"
- "Really Wanted You"
- "Golden Child of God"
- "Tame The Lion" / "Those That Die"
- "Just Me And You", "What's A Man To Do" / "This Wall Between Us" Released on iTunes, November 3, 2011
Emitt's influence on me has been immense, as I have various traits in common with him. I started with the punk band Max Load in 1979 as a drummer, never having played before (more or less...I considered myself a drummer and studied drummers from Latin percussionists to rock drummers to drum and bugle corps players, as well as studying them while in junior and high school band, but never even owned so much as a snare drum). It's safe to say that if I'd have been allowed to have a set I would not be a multi-instrumentalist in the Emitt Rhodes style, I'd simply be a drummer. My curiosity drove me as a musician, and after starting as a brass player at age 9, I moved to bass at age 15, left brass at age 16, and eventually learned enough to release my own Emitt-inspired solo LP in the mid-90's, "Not To be Found". As a matter of fact, it never did get found! That's an example of a self-fulfilling prophecy if I ever saw one! Obscurity is the name of the game with this project, as I used the pseudonym (my on-air DJ moniker as well) Nowhere Man.
Tomorrow we get into more of the things that either drove me as a kid or influenced my path as an adult musician/fan/audiophile. Keep your tubes hot and your antenna up! See you then!