Vladimir John Ondrasik III (born January 7, 1965), known by his stage name Five for Fighting, is an American singer, songwriter and record producer. He is best known for his piano-based rock, such as the top 40 hits, "Superman (It's Not Easy)" (2001), "100 Years" (2003) and "The Riddle" (2006).
Five for Fighting
Five for Fighting at Edwards Air Force Ball on September 21, 2007
|Birth name||Vladimir John Ondrasik III|
|Also known as||Five for Fighting|
|Born||January 7, 1965|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Ondrasik was born in Los Angeles, a child of a musical family. In his early years, he learned the piano; and, in his teens, he learned to play the guitar and started to write music. While he also learned to sing opera briefly, he soon decided that he would like to be a singer and songwriter. Ondrasik graduated from UCLA with a degree in applied science and mathematics.
While in college, Ondrasik continued to pursue music in his spare time. He adopted the name "Five for Fighting", an ice hockey term that means a five-minute major penalty for participating in a fight. Ondrasik is a lifelong fan of the National Hockey League's Los Angeles Kings.
Aware Records' Mark Cunningham made initial contact with Ondrasik. Cunningham then passed Ondrasik's demos to the label's new A&R Steve Smith. After a discussion with Aware head Gregg Latterman, Smith met with Ondrasik and set up a deal in partnership with Columbia Records.
His second album, America Town, was released on September 26, 2000. The track "Superman (It's Not Easy)" was a commercial success, reaching number 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song became an anthem after the September 11 attacks and Ondrasik performed the song at The Concert for New York City in late 2001. While America Town did not reach the top 50 of the Billboard 200 chart, the album eventually was certified Platinum.
His third album, The Battle for Everything, debuted at number 20 on “Billboard 200 chart in February 2004. It included the single "100 Years", which reached number one on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart and stayed at number one for 12 non-consecutive weeks. The Battle for Everything was certified Platinum by the RIAA.
Two years later, the album Two Lights was released; this became his first career top 10 album, debuting at number eight on the Billboard 200 chart in August 2006. Its first single, "The Riddle", became Ondrasik's third career top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, peaking at number 40. It reached number three on AC charts and number seven on Hot AC charts. The second single, "World", reached number 14 on Hot AC charts and the music video has been used to raise funds for various charities and as a theme for NASA's International Space Station (see Philanthropy below).
His fifth studio album, titled Slice, was released on October 13, 2009, and appeared on the iTunes top 10 albums on the first day. The album was produced by Gregg Wattenberg ("Superman," "100 Years"). Academy Award-winning composer Stephen Schwartz, who penned the songs for musicals such as Wicked, Godspell and Pippin, co-wrote the title track, as well as the track "Above the Timberline." On July 21, 2009, the first single from Slice, called "Chances", was released for digital download. "Chances" was featured at the end title of the hit movie The Blind Side. "Chances" reached number 11 on the Hot AC radio chart.
On May 27, 2010, Ondrasik announced that he had left Columbia Records and his album Slice would be re-released on Wind-up Records along with the song "Slice" being released as a single in July 2010.
Ondrasik was named a top five AC and a top 10 Hot AC artist for the 2000s.
He has twice collaborated with Sandra Boynton, recording a song each for her Dog Train book and CD in 2005, and her Blue Moo album in 2007.
With over 2.5 million albums sold and America Town and The Battle for Everything, both achieving Platinum status, Ondrasik continues to write and perform, and writing and co-writing music for other artists, including the Backstreet Boys and Josh Groban. He has also contributed to movie soundtracks such as August Rush, We Were Soldiers, Chicken Little, and Everyone's Hero, and in 2008, Ondrasik wrote and recorded the song "Brothers in Arms" for the award-winning documentary film Brothers at War.
Ondrasik wrote and recorded the original song "All for One" for the one hundredth episode of the television series Hawaii Five-0. The song was released as a single on November 7, 2014, the same date the episode aired. His song "100 Years" was featured in the final scene of the final episode of the TV series JAG.
Five for Fighting performed as part of the Lincoln Center Series, American Songbook, in February 2017. They also performed their song "All for One" at the National Memorial Day Concert on the steps of the Capitol in 2017.
Ondrasik is the featured artist in season three of the CBS drama Code Black. Contributing his take on Gary Go's "Open Arms" in episode one. He also appears on screen performing the song. His song "Superman (It's Not Easy)" performed by Briana Lee was featured in the season three finale.
In 2018, Ondrasik recorded a song entitled "The Song of Innocents" for the end credits of the film Gosnell: The Trial of America's Biggest Serial Killer.
In 2012, Ondrasik became active on the public speaking circuit. Presenting on themes of creativity, entrepreneurship, and collaboration, Ondrasik uses his music, life as a musician and working in the family business to highlight his message. He has presented at TedX, The Salk Institute, American Cancer Society, and Virgin Unite amongst others.
In the spring of 2007, Ondrasik created the first video charity website. The website allowed fans to upload videos answering the central question, "What Kind of World do You Want?" (taken from his hit song, "World"). The site raised over $250,000 for Augie's Quest, Autism Speaks, Fisher House Foundation, Save the Children, and Operation Homefront.
Ondrasik, under the auspices of the USO, performed for service members on a USO/Armed Forces Entertainment tour of Guantanamo Bay and other bases in Cuba in February and March 2007. He followed up with another USO tour in November 2007 of Japan, Guam and Hawaii. "I am struck by the sacrifices the troops and their families make for our way of life and I felt it was important to show my support," says Ondrasik.
In November 2007, Ondrasik coordinated the release of 13 free songs for US military members called CD for the Troops. There have been five CDs for the troops and over one million copies given away. The songs donated included tracks from Billy Joel, Jewel and Sarah McLachlan. Subsequent volumes became available in 2008 (including songs by Gretchen Wilson, Keith Urban and Trace Adkins), 2009 (an album of comedy tracks with material from comedians such as Chris Rock, Ray Romano and Adam Sandler), 2010 (featuring songs by Matchbox 20, Brandi Carlile, Ingrid Michaelson, and Gavin DeGraw), and 2011 artists including Sara Bareilles, Mayday Parade and REO Speedwagon.
Ondrasik has also performed on the annual Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon and has done various events for the Muscular Dystrophy Association and Augie's Quest, raising awareness and funds for ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease).
Ondrasik currently lives with his wife and their two children near Los Angeles, California. He is an avid hockey and basketball fan, supporting the L.A. Kings and Lakers. He has been a contributing writer for both Sports Illustrated and the official L.A. Kings and is often featured on radio and TV interviews. He has performed on Sports Center, at the 2002 NHL All-Star game, 9/11/11 Jets v. Cowboys Halftime, 2011 Heritage Classic, 2011 Carrier Classic, 2014 Stadium Series in Los Angeles, and performed "100 Years" during Landon Donovan's last game of the LA Galaxy.
|Year||Album details||Peak chart positions||Sales||Certifications|
|1997||Message for Albert||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|2004||The Battle for Everything
|2017||Christmas Under the Stars – (Live)
|"—" denotes releases that did not chart|
|2011||Playlist: The Very Best of Five For Fighting
|Year||Single||Peak chart positions||Certifications||Album|
|2000||"Easy Tonight"||—||26||—||—||—||—||88||24||—||—||America Town|
|2001||"Superman (It's Not Easy)"||14||1||2||15||2||5||43||2||12||48|
|2002||"Easy Tonight" (re-release)||—||18||—||—||—||—||—||20||—||—|
|2003||"Something About You"||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
||The Battle for Everything|
|2004||"The Devil in the Wishing Well"||—||23||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|2005||"If God Made You"||—||—||20||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|2006||"The Riddle"||40||8||4||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||Two Lights|
|2007||"I Just Love You"||—||—||24||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|2017||"Christmas Where You Are"
(featuring Jim Brickman)
|"—" denotes releases that did not chart|
|2001||"Superman (It's Not Easy)"||Ramaa Mosley|
|2002||"Easy Tonight"||Nancy Bardawil|
|2004||"100 Years"||Trey Fanjoy|
|"The Devil in the Wishing Well"||Elliott Lester|
|2013||"What If"||Roman White|
"100 Years" is a song by American singer Five for Fighting. It was released in November 2003 as the first single from the album The Battle for Everything. The song's melody is borrowed from "Plainsong" by The Cure, originally released in 1989. The single reached number one on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart and number 28 on the Billboard Hot 100. In 2007 the song earned a Platinum certification from the Recording Industry Association of America for more than 1,000,000 copies sold. It also reached the top 40 in Australia and New Zealand, peaking at number 32 in both countries.America Town
America Town is the second studio album by American band Five for Fighting. It was released by Aware Records, a Columbia Records subsidiary, in 2000. It contains two of his most well-known songs, "Easy Tonight" and "Superman (It's Not Easy)". The album was certified Gold by the RIAA on November 1, 2001, and Platinum on October 22, 2004. The album has sold over 966,000 copies in the United States as of November 2009.Augie Nieto
Augustine L. "Augie" Nieto II (born 1958) is the founder and retired chief executive of Life Fitness, as well as the current chairman of the ALS Therapy Development Institute. He and his wife, Lynne, live in Corona Del Mar, California, and have four children and seven grandchildren.He was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in 2005, and established "Augie's Quest", which has raised over $45 million in funds for research into the disease. In 2016 it was announced that a documentary about him titled "Augie" would premier in late 2017.Aware Records
Aware Records is an American record label. The label has had success with a range of artists, including John Mayer, Train, Five for Fighting, Mat Kearney, and Guster.Back Country
Back Country is a live album released by Five for Fighting on November 6, 2007. The album was recorded at a concert in Orlando, where he performed hits like "Superman (It's Not Easy)" and "100 Years".
Back Country is the first live album to be released by Five for Fighting and it comes over a year after the release of Two Lights.Chances (Five for Fighting song)
"Chances" is a song written by Gregg Wattenberg and John Ondrasik, and recorded by Ondrasik under his stage name Five for Fighting. The song was released on July 21, 2009, as the first single from the band's 2009 album Slice. The song was the band's fourth single to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. "Chances" is the second track of the official Superleague Formula soundtrack A Beautiful Race: The Superleague Formula album, which was re-released from Sony Music Entertainment Philippines on April 4, 2010. It was also featured in the end credits to The Blind Side, the end montage of scenes in The Vampire Diaries season one, episode 10, "The Turning Point" and in promos for professional wrestler Shawn Michaels' induction into the WWE Hall of Fame of 2011.Gregg Wattenberg
Gregg Wattenberg is a songwriter, music producer, and musician residing in New York City, New York. Gregg Wattenberg co-wrote and produced Phillip Phillips' #1 hit single "Gone, Gone, Gone". Wattenberg co-produced Train's #1 hit single "Hey, Soul Sister". He also co-wrote and co-produced Train's #1 hit single "If It's Love". He co-wrote the Daughtry #1 hit single "It's Not Over", O.A.R.'s #1 song "Shattered (Turn the Car Around)", and Goo Goo Dolls Top 10 Single "Let Love In". Wattenberg produced Five for Fighting's #1 hit singles "Superman (It's Not Easy)" and "100 Years" and co-wrote and produced Top 5 AC single "Slice". Wattenberg also produced the album What If It All Means Something by Canadian singer-songwriter Chantal Kreviazuk.Jonathan Mover
Jonathan Mover a.k.a. "Mover" is an American drummer who has worked with a number of artists including Aretha Franklin, Fuel, Alice Cooper, Shakira, Julian Lennon, GTR, Everlast, The Tubes, Mick Jagger, Steve Howe, Peter Frampton, Oleander, Celine Dion, Elton John, Stuart Hamm, They Might Be Giants, Frank Gambale, Mike Oldfield, Steve Hackett, Saigon Kick, Marillion, Beastie Boys, Joe Satriani, Joe Lynn Turner, Dave Koz, Jan Hammer, Jimmy Barnes, Alan Friedman, Bernardo Lanzetti (of PFM - Premiata Forneria Marconi), Five For Fighting and others. He covers rock, soul, R&B, heavy metal, jazz fusion, funk, punk, rap, hip hop and pop.
As an engineer and/or producer, Mover has worked with Shakira, Flo Rida, Brett Scallions, Rick Ross, Fuel, Carnival Divine, Celine Dion and French guitarist Rudy Roberts among others, as well as being the engineer and sound editor on Loose Change 9/11: An American Coup.KLLC
KLLC (97.3 MHz, Alice @ 97.3) is a commercial FM radio station located in San Francisco, California, broadcasting to the San Francisco Bay Area. The station is owned by Entercom. Its transmitter is off Wolfback Ridge Road on Mount Beacon in the Marin Headlands near Sausalito, California. The studios and offices are located on Battery Street in downtown San Francisco.List of number-one adult contemporary singles of 2004 (U.S.)
These are the Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks number-one hits of 2004.Message for Albert
Message for Albert is the debut studio album by American singer Five for Fighting, released on March 11, 1997 by Nettwerk and EMI.Randy Cooke
Randy Cooke is an established Canadian drummer, percussionist, session musician, and touring musician. He is a member of Smash Mouth (2010–2011, 2011–2012, 2013, 2016–2018, 2018–present).Slice (album)
Slice is the fifth studio album by American singer Five for Fighting, released on October 13, 2009 by Aware Records and Wind-up Records. In May 2009, Ondrasik posted on his Myspace blog that the name of his forthcoming record will be taken from fan suggestions, and will be subsequently voted on to determine the winning album title.The first single from the new album, called "Chances", was released on July 21, 2009, as a digital download. It also debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 chart at number 83 and at number 12 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart on the week ending October 31, 2009. "Chances" can also be heard in the end credits of the 2009 film, The Blind Side. It can also be heard in the first promotional commercial video of Idol in season 10.
Slice has sold approximately 30,000 during its stay on the Billboard 200 chart.
On September 22, 2009, the music video for "Chances" was released on VH1.com. The music video shows the story of two teenagers falling in love, while Ondrasik narrates the story. The music video was directed by Steven Drypolcher and produced by Partizan. David Campbell arranged the strings for "Chances", "Slice", and "Story".Superman (It's Not Easy)
"Superman (It's Not Easy)" (also titled as "Superman") is a song written and performed by American singer Five for Fighting. It was released in April 2001 as the second single from his second studio album America Town. Following the September 11 attacks, the song was used to honor the victims, survivors, police, and firefighters involved in the attacks. The song debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 chart at number 38 on October 27, 2001, then subsequently peaked at number 14, becoming Five for Fighting's first top 40 hit in the United States. The single was even more popular in Australia and New Zealand, where it reached number two on both countries' national charts. Elsewhere, the song reached the top 20 in Ireland, Italy, and Norway. The song was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals at the 44th Grammy Awards in 2002.The Battle for Everything
The Battle for Everything is the third studio album by American singer Five for Fighting, released on February 3, 2004 by Aware Records and Columbia Records.The Concert for New York City
The Concert for New York City was a benefit concert, featuring many famous musicians, that took place on October 20, 2001 at Madison Square Garden in New York City in response to the September 11 attacks. Aside from performing for charity, the concert was an attempt to honor the first responders from the New York City Fire Department and New York City Police Department, their families, and those lost in the attacks and those who had worked in the ongoing rescue and recovery efforts in the weeks since that time.
The concert was organized by Paul McCartney and included many legendary British contemporaries, including The Who, David Bowie, Elton John, Eric Clapton and Rolling Stones bandmates Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. American artists included Bon Jovi, Jay-Z, Destiny's Child, the Backstreet Boys, James Taylor, Billy Joel, Melissa Etheridge, Five for Fighting, Goo Goo Dolls, John Mellencamp with Kid Rock, and a humorous performance by Adam Sandler as "Operaman." Paul Shaffer acted as Musical Director for the show and various celebrities and political figures including Howard Stern and Rudy Giuliani appeared between the acts.
Many athletes also appeared between the acts including Joe Torre, whose Yankees were on their way to competing in their fourth consecutive World Series. The concert also included several short films made by New York City's most notable filmmakers such as Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese, Spike Lee, and Kevin Smith.
Over 60 stars that participated in the concert signed unique memorabilia backstage at Madison Square Garden that were later auctioned off to support the Robin Hood Foundation. The autographed items included three large posters of the concert and three customized 24" drumheads. Other items included a complete drumset and guitar.The Riddle (Five for Fighting song)
"The Riddle" is the title of a song by American singer Five for Fighting. It was released in May 2006 as the lead single from his third album Two Lights. The song peaked at number 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart during an 18-week chart stay. On the Adult Contemporary chart, the song reached number four.Two Lights (album)
Two Lights is the fourth studio album by American singer Five for Fighting. The first single is titled "The Riddle". The song was released on May 15, 2006, and the album was released on August 1, 2006.
The album peaked at number eight on the Billboard 200 chart, making it Five for Fighting's highest-charting album to date. It has sold over 287,000 copies in the United States as of November 2009.World (Five for Fighting song)
"World" is a song written and recorded by American singer Five for Fighting. It was released in November 2006 as the second single from the album Two Lights. It reached number 14 on the U.S. Billboard Adult Pop Songs chart.