Madsen, Gunnar

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Madsen, Gunnar


Son of Paul Madsen (a business owner); married; children: one son. Education: University of California, Berkeley, degree (music).


Home—CA. Office—G-Spot Records, P.O. Box 11575, Berkeley, CA 94712. E-mail[email protected].


Composer, actor, singer, filmmaker, and writer. Songwriter and performer with musical group the Bobs, until 1991; Atari Corp., staff composer of music for video games; G-Spot Records, founder. Performer on musical recordings, include The Bobs, 1983, The Power of a Hat, 1998, and Spinning World: Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Waltz; director and producer of documentary film Svetlana Village, 2001.

Awards, Honors

Grammy Award nomination for vocal arranging (with Richard Greene), 1984; nine ASCAP songwriter's awards; Eisner Prize, University of California; Isadora Duncan Dance Award nomination for outstanding score; Bay Area Theatre Critics Award for Best Score; Parent's Choice Gold Award, Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Award, Nappa Gold Award, Best Recording for Older Children designation, CMWA, Parent's Council Outstanding designation, and Crossroads Music Awards finalist, all for Old Mr. Mackle Hackle; Parent's Choice Gold Award, CMWA Best Recording for Older Children designation, and Records That Mattered designation, all 2001, all for Ants in My Pants!; Ovation Award for Best World Premiere Musical, and Musical of the Year designation, and Best Original Music honor, both LA Weekly, both 2003, all for The Shaggs: Philosophy of the World; Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award, 2003.


(With brother Peter Madsen) Svetlana Village: The Camphill Experience in Russia (documentary film), 2001.

(With Joy Gregory; and composer) The Shaggs: Philosophy of the World (stage musical), produced in Los Angeles, CA, 2003.

Old Mr. Mackle Hackle (based on Madsen's recording; also see below), illustrated by Irana Shepherd, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2005.


The Bobs, Rhino, 1983.

My, I'm Large, Rhino, 1987.

Songs for Tomorrow Morning, Rhino, 1988.

Six Songs for Children, 1989.

Best of the Bobs, 1990.

The Bobs Sing the Songs of …, Rhino, 1991.

Shut Up and Sing!, Rounder, 1993.

Spinning World: 13 Ways of Looking at a Waltz, G-Spot Records, 1997.

The Power of a Hat, G-Spot Records, 1997.

Old Mr. Mackle Hackle, G-Spot Records, 1999.

Nolan Ryan—A Musical Tribute, Hungry for Music, 1999.

Coaster, Primary Acapella, 2000.

Ants in My Pants!, Gee, Spot!, 2001.

Fall of Troy, G-Spot Records, 2006.


An award-winning songwriter and innovative performer who began his musical career with the a-capella group the Bobs during the 1980s, Gunnar Madsen has more
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recently expanded his career, becoming an actor, writer, playwright, and founder and chairman of G-Spot Records. His produced play The Shaggs: Philosophy of the World is based on a trio of sisters whose 1969 musical recording gained a cult following as one of the worst recordings ever made due to the fact that the teens could neither play an instrument nor hold a tune. Madsen's children's book Old Mr. Mackle Hackle, published in 2005, is based on a more successful creative effort: the title song of his first solo album for children. Noting the author/songwriter's "warm, clear singing voice," a Publishers Weekly contributor noted that the recorded version of Old Mr. Mackle Hackle showcases Madsen's "knack for writing entertaining songs that combine kookiness and wit."

Old Mr. Mackle Hackle recounts the comical story of a farmer who is gravely concerned because his pink-feathered hen never cackles; instead she quacks and squeaks. The farmer does everything he can think of to try and get her to make the appropriate sounds, even going to the extent of reciting to her every chicken joke he can think of, but the hen's only response is to ask to be left in peace. When the hen finally lays strange, multicolored eggs, Farmer Mackle Hackle gets his wish: he now has a multitude of multicolored cackling chicks to care for. Susan Dove Lempke wrote in Horn Book of the picture book that Madsen's story serves as "a great pick to get energy going at story time."

Biographical and Critical Sources


American Theatre, May-June, 2004, Christopher Hickman, "Chicago: Just How Bad Were the Shaggs?," p. 7.

Booklist, December 15, 1999, John Sigwald, review of Old Mr. Mackle Hackle, p. 796.

Horn Book, July-August, 2005, Susan Dove Lempke, review of Old Mr. Mackle Hackle, p. 454.

Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 2005, review of Old Mr. Mackle Hackle, p. 290.

Los Angeles Times, July 13, 2000, Lynne Heffley, "Old Mr. Mackle Hackle's Zany Yet Tempered;" January 3, 2002, Lynne Heffley, "Ants in My Pants a Witty, a Capella Musical Delight."

Palo Alto Weekly, June 8, 2001, Robyn Israel,"It Takes a Village."

Parents' Choice Foundation, April, 2002, Lynne Heffley, "Winner of a 2002 Parents's Choice Gold Award."

Publishers Weekly, April 10, 2000, review of Old Mr. Mackle Hackle, p. 34; December 10, 2001, review of Ants in My Pants, p. 23.

School Library Journal, March, 2000, Kathleen Kelly Macmillan, review of Old Mr. Mackle Hackle, p. 168; March, 2002, Beverly Bixler, review of Ants in My Pants, p. 89; December, 2003, Kathleen Kelly Mac-Millan, "Here and Gone in 60 Seconds!," p. 77; August, 2005, Marge Loch-Wouters, review of Old Mr. Mackle Hackle, p. 102.

Theatre Journal, March, 1989, Jeffrey S. Miller, "Cowboy Lips, Fly Away All, Book of Days," p. 95.


Gunnar Madsen Home Page, (May 5, 2006).