David Martin Frank and Michael Austin Murphy met in the early 1980s while working for the soul/funk band Kleeer. Frank had gotten a break when Atlantic Records enlisted him as Kleeer's tour keyboardist. The band's road manager was Mic Murphy, and although Murphy was obviously aware of Frank's skills, Frank was unaware Murphy could sing.
Later in New York City, David Frank was working on a session that evolved into a track called Passion which was to feature a pre-stardom Madonna on vocals. However, due to creative differences, Madonna bowed out. Frank then remembered Murphy and invited him work on it. The results were so impressive that Atlantic Records offered Murphy and Frank a recording deal of their own.
Murphy came up with the band's name, and within weeks Passion was receiving massive radio airplay in New York. Passion became both a radio and club hit in New York. The interest sparked enough interest for Mirage to give David and Mic an advance for an album. The resulting 1983 album Sweat launched the club Sweat, I Won, Let Go and the iconic You Are In My System, which became a number ten R&B smash. Robert Palmer's cover of the song became a mainstream rock hit. In 1983 Mic & David also wrote and produced Pump the Nation, a one-off album for a project called Attitude. Attitude featured Khris Kellow, who worked on many of the later The System albums and appears as a member of the band in Beat Street video clip for Baptize the Beat.
In 1984 they released their second album, X-periment. Frank's expertise in recording studio technology gave the material a sound that many felt was ahead of its time. Indeed, the heavy use of synths and electric percussion was a step beyond the dance-influenced flavour of the previous album, and Murphy's soulful vocals gave the songs a definite R&B flavour. Besides the upbeat electronics-laden tracks, the album also introduced a more mature and pop-friendly
quality, evident in tracks such as Promises Can Break, I Wanna Make You Feel Good and I Can't Take Losing You.
The System also appeared in the 1984 breakdancing film Beat Street and the soundtrack performing Baptize The Beat. The title track from their 1985 album The Pleasure Seekers was featured in the season two premiere episode of the hit NBC series Miami Vice. Other tracks on the album include It Takes 2, as well as Love Won, Wait For Lovin and This Is For You. In 1985, David Frank and Mic Murphy teamed up with Jeff Lorber to collaborate on Lorber's album Step by Step.
Their version of the Marc Benno song Rock N Roll Me Again became famous in the 1984 action-comedy Beverly Hills Cop with Eddie Murphy. The soundtrack album would go on to win a Grammy. They would also reach No. 23 on Billboard's R&B chart with the title track from the 1988 Eddie Murphy film Coming to America. All of this success occurred while they were contributing their talents to projects such as the Scritti Politti album Cupid Psyche 85, Phil Collins, Sussudio, Chaka Khan, I Feel for You, and This Is My Night and Juicy Fruit, among many others.
The System's greatest success came in 1987 with the release of the single Don't Disturb This Groove, from the album of the same name. The duo hired Steven Machat and Rick Smith to be their managers. Machat and Smith took control of the promotion and marketing of the duo on behalf of Atlantic and helped the duo achieve their biggest US Pop hit, Don't Disturb This Groove. The single reached No. 1 on the Billboard R&B chart and No. 3 on the Hot 100. The follow-up single, Nighttime Lover, was also a top 10 R&B hit, peaking at No. 7.
Murphy recorded the solo album Touch and charted in 1991 with a single from that project. Frank has found more recent success as a songwriter and producer, most notably for hit singles such as Christina Aguilera's Genie in a Bottle in 1999, and teen girl-group Dream, He Loves U Not in 2000.
In 2000, the duo reunited for the album ESP, which also featured a reworked version of You Are In My System, originally found on 1983's Sweat.
Late 2009 saw the release of Unreleased Unleashed, a collection of prototype and unreleased songs recorded at various points over the span of The System's recording career. Although two tracks, Hole In My Love and You Are In My System (Redux), the previously-mentioned remake of their earlier single, were taken directly from the ESP album. Also, the track Sonic Fire was previously released as the B-Side for some singles of I Wanna Make You Feel Good in 1984.