If you like your music steeped in classic rock tradition, Marc Ribler will be right up your street. A mainstay of the Asbury Park music scene, he’s best known as the guitarist and musical director of Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul. When he’s not doing that, he’s writing jingles, coming up with hits for other artists, and releasing his own critically acclaimed albums. His latest album, “The Whole World Awaits You,“ is a classic, filled with big hooks, catchy choruses, and tongue-in-cheek pop-culture references. Find out more with these 10 things you didn’t know about Marc Ribler.
1. He’s been playing guitar since he was 11
When Ribler was 11 years old, his family moved to New Jersey where he became close to his older cousin. It was through him that Ribler began playing the guitar. “I went to his apartment in Brooklyn with my family and he had his guitar out in the room. It was like the guitar was pointing at me. It’s like, ‘Hey man, we got some business to take care of,'” he explained to americanahighways.org. He convinced his parents to buy him a guitar, began taking lessons at a local music store, and he and his guitar have been taking care of business ever since.
2. His first taste of success came with Nightflyer
By the time he was 17, Ribler knew he wanted a career in music. One of his first big turning points came at the age of 17 when he joined the band Nightflyer. While they didn’t enjoy too much in the way of chart success, they became a huge hit on the circuit. Within just a few short years of signing up, Ribler had opened for some of the biggest acts of the day, including Sam and Dave, Rick Danko of The Band, Sly and the Family Stone, and Paul Butterfield.
3. Mitch Malloy helped him win a songwriting deal
In 1985, Ribler enjoyed a career first when Canadian singer Lee Aaron covered one of his songs. A few years later, five of his songs were chosen for inclusion on Mitch Malloy’s self-titled debut album. Three of those five ended up charting in the Billboard Hot 100. Their success helped win Ribler a songwriting development deal at RCA. At the time, he hoped it would lead to a record deal – unfortunately, BMG purchased RCA in the middle of negotiations, leading to RCA dropping 40 of their signed acts and all of their development acts. It was a crushing blow, but Ribler persevered and has now written and produced over 40 songs for major label artists.
4. His muse is a night owl
Having a muse might be nice, but when Ribler gets a visit from his, you’d forgive him for turning over and going back to sleep. Speaking to marcribler.com, he revealed that his muse is a night owl who has a habit of visiting him in the wee hours. “When I’m in the zone for writing, a lot of times it’s like a spirit will wake me up in the middle of the night when I have stuff I need to get out,” he said. “I’ll wake up at 3 or 4 in the morning, and I’ll stay up for a few hours and write a song or two then go back to sleep. When it’s on, it’s on!”
5. He’s famous for his jingles
He may be best known for his song compositions, but over the years, Ribler has built up a reputation as a first-rate jingle writer. One of his most famous jingles is “This Life,” which was included on a commercial for Trojan condoms in 2005 before being released as a full-length single. He’s also written jingles for V8 juices, Activia, Bell South, and Green Mountain Coffee.
6. He’s learned to embrace life
In the late 1990s, Ribler’s life took a devastating and unexpected turn. After being struck down with a progressive case of ulcerative colitis, he was admitted to hospital for four months, where he lost so much weight he came close to dying. Despite the horror of the situation, the experience gave him a newfound appreciation for life. “When you nearly lose all that you thought was yours to keep, you become extremely appreciative of the people and experiences that make life worth living,” he’s shared with backstreets.com. “My health crisis in retrospect was one of the best things that ever happened to me. I can honestly say that what I went through has had a very positive effect on the way I deal with adversity and stressful situations.”
7. He gets nostalgic about music from the ’60s
As a kid, Ribler spent hours listening to the radio, and it’s still the songs he heard then that hit him the hardest now. “I’m very nostalgic about the music that I grew up with,” he’s said. “I feel much of the music of the ’60s and ’70s is timeless and the best music that’s ever been written, produced or performed live.” Some of his favorite artists include Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, the Beatles, The Who, the Allman Brothers, Otis Redding, The Band, Traffic, James Brown, The Jackson Five, and CSNY.
8. He’s a member of Holme
If you’re not from New Jersey, you might not have heard of Holme. If you are, you’ll definitely know the name – or if you don’t, your parents will. The group, which has been described as a “legendary Shore party band,” came to fame as part of the 1970s and 1980s New Jersey dance/rock club scene. Although they never landed a major record contract, they became hugely popular in the bars and clubs around New Jersey, and still occasionally pop up for one-off appearances. Ribler contributes guitar and vocals.
8. He appeared in Netflix’s The Christmas Chronicles
If you watched Netflix’s “The Christmas Chronicles” back in 2018, you might have recognized one of Santa’s cellmates as Steven Van Zandt, or Little Steven as he’s best known. As one of the founding members of Bruce Springsteen’s legendary E Street Band, Van Zandt has branched into acting over the past few years, most noticeably with a long-running gig on HBO’s “The Sopranos.” Acting alongside him in the role of Dusty is Ribler, who’s been performing with Van Zandt’s current group, Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul, for years.
9. He’s just released a new album
This July, Ribler dropped his first new album since 2008’s “This Life.” He began writing the album, titled “The Whole World Awaits,” back in 2017, but finally put the finishing pieces together during lockdown. “It was a pandemic production and it kind of helped get through the dreary days – not knowing what was going on in the zombie apocalypse,” he told newjerseystage.com.
10. He believes in staying positive
If there’s one thing that Ribler has in abundance, it’s positivity. He’s suffered knocks, health scares, financial problems, and career setbacks, but has survived them all, something he attributes to a thick skin and a positive mental attitude. “In this life, you got to stay positive, you got to stay healthy, you got to appreciate what you have and you never know what’s going to happen from one minute to the next,” he says.