David Yazbek (born 1960) is an American musician, composer, and lyricist. He was born to a Jewish mother and an Arab father in New York City. Musical from birth, he began cello lessons in elementary school and took up the piano as a teenager.
After attending Brown University, he got a job writing for David Letterman's late night television show. He won an Emmy as part of Letterman's writing team in 1986, but quit to pursue his love of music. From 1987 to 1989 he was the co-owner of Manhattan Recording Company and wrote many commercial jingles.
An accomplished musician, Yazbek has released three rock albums to date which highlight his unique perspective and wry sense of humor. He has also written many songs and background music for children's television shows, especially those produced for Disney's cable television channel. He also wrote the theme song to the children's television game show "Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego." This hit show featured the musical group Rockapella, of which Yazbek's college friend Sean Altman was a member.
Yazbek has produced tracks for the band XTC, and its lead singer Andy Partridge has collaborated on Yazbek's solo albums. He also has written for or produced recordings by Spacehog, Tito Puente, The Persuasions, Queen, and Sarah Saturday. XTC also contributed a track to the "Carmen Sandiego" soundtrack album, which Yazbek produced.
In 2000, Broadway director Jack O'Brien approached composer-lyricist Adam Guettel to write the music and lyrics for a musical based on the hit movie The Full Monty. Guettel declined, but recommended Yazbek, with whom he had played in a band. Yazbek took the job, collaborating with librettist Terrence McNally. The show was a success, although it was overshadowed that year by Mel Brooks' musical The Producers. The Full Monty ran for two years before closing, and for his work Yazbek was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Original Score and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Lyrics, and won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Music. In 2002 he was a contributing lyricist for the musical Bombay Dreams.
Yazbek also wrote the music and lyrics to the musical adaptation of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, which opened on Broadway in 2005, featuring John Lithgow and Norbert Leo Butz. Yazbek was again nominated for the 2005 Tony Award for Best Original Score, and Drama Desk Awards for Outstanding Music and Outstanding Lyrics.