Born in Detroit, Michigan, Don Was grew up listening to Detroit blues, jazz music and The Rolling Stones. He went on to form the group Was (Not Was) with school friend David Weiss (David Was), noted for their success in the 1980s.
Now widely recognized as a record producer, Don Was has worked with artists including Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Bonnie Raitt, Iggy Pop, Ziggy Marley, The B-52’s, Elton John, Garth Brooks, Lucinda Williams, Old Crow Medicine Show, John Mayer, Ringo Starr, Willie Nelson, Brian Wilson, Kris Kristofferson and Aaron Neville. He has earned multiple Grammy Awards including Producer of the Year in 1995.
Don Was has served as musical director or consultant on several motion pictures including Thelma and Louise (1991), The Rainmaker (1997), Hope Floats (1998), Phenomenon (1996), Tin Cup (1996), Honeymoon in Vegas (1992), 8 Seconds (1994), Switch (1991), The Freshman (1990), Days of Thunder (1990), Boys on the Side (1995) and Toy Story (1995). He earned a British Academy Award (BAFTA) for Best Original Score in recognition of his compositions for the film Backbeat (1994). In 1995 he directed and produced the documentary I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times, about former Beach Boy Brian Wilson. The film debuted at the Sundance Film Festival and won the San Francisco Film Festival’s Golden Gate Award.
He has been serving as President of the legendary jazz label, Blue Note Records, since January 2012.