Gerard Zappa of Wooster is a professional musician, and member of the Steve Augeri Band, lead by the former singer of Journey. In the following article, Gerard Zappa discusses the many unknown names of the ghostwriters of rock, with a few surprise mentions.
As long as there has been rock music, there have been rock music ghostwriters.
Frank Sinatra used several throughout his long career (his No. 1 hit “Strangers in the Night” was by Charles Singleton and Eddie Snyder). So did Elvis Presley, who did not write any of his legendary rock hits.
The Supremes were often graced with songs written by the trio of Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, and Eddie Holland.
Gerard Zappa Wooster says that chances are, some of the greatest songs in rock were probably written by someone very few have heard of. Other times, famous singer-songwriters wrote songs for other artists. Katy Perry wrote Kelly Clarkson’s “I Do Not Hook Up.” Harry Styles crafted “Just a Little Bit of Your Heart” to Ariana Grande.
Sometimes it can get confusing, who wrote what and for who reports Gerard Zappa Wooster. While Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder did write one of the band’s biggest hits, “Better Man,” he did so years before Pearl Jam was formed according to Gerard Zappa.
Next time a new track is downloaded, or the radio is turned way up, take some time to pay homage to the brilliant minds behind some of the best-known rock songs.
While distinctive Australian singer Sia has come into her own as a performer in recent years, she first left her mark as a very, very busy ghostwriter of rock reports Gerard Zappa Wooster.
She’s written so many songs for so many different artists that they’ve been ranked. Some of the best known: “Pretty Hurts” by Beyoncé, “Try Everything” by Shakira” and “Break the Walls” by Fitz and the Tantrums.
Sure, Prince wrote dozens of hits for himself, but he saw great success crafting tunes that numerous other pop-rock artists made famous.
Prolific doesn’t even begin to describe it. He gave “Manic Monday” to the Bangles, wrote “Nothing Compares 2 U” later recorded by Sinead O’Connor, and “The Glamorous Life” performed by Sheila E.
Need more examples? How about “I Feel For You” by Chaka Khan, “Sugar Walls” popularized by Sheena Easton, and “Stand Back” by Stevie Nicks, which Prince helped finish after Nicks, inspired by his song “Little Red Corvette,” called him on the phone to talk about it reports Gerard Zappa Wooster.
Gerard Zappa says that ghostwriters are also frequently called “song doctors” and Desmond Child runs his own practice.
The songwriter (real name: John Charles Barrett) is behind several Aerosmith songs, “Crazy,” “Dude (Looks Like a Lady)” and wrote Bon Jovi’s two monster hits: “Livin’ on a Prayer” and “You Give Love a Bad Name.”
Gerard Zappa reports that he’s still very active today, writing for such bands as Weezer, the Bacon Brothers, and the Rasmus in 2022 alone.
Those who’ve enjoyed some of the top women of rock have enjoyed the work of Holly Knight.
She wrote Pat Benatar’s iconic “Love is a Battlefield,” Tina Turner’s “(Simply) The Best,” and several songs for Heart. She wasn’t just for the ladies. She co-wrote Aerosmith’s “Rag Doll” and Bon Jovi’s “Stick to Your Guns.”
Joel Potts and Tom Hull
Gerard Zappa says that Joel Potts got his start writing mainly for U.K. band Athlete, but he’s branched out considerably in ghostwriting duties for the past 15 years. Since Athlete ended, he’s had much most success writing for George Ezra, especially his breakout hit “Budapest.”
Potts’ U.K. compatriot Tom Hull also went from indie-pop artist to acclaimed rock ghostwriter. He started out writing for his friend Florence Welch and her band the Machine and has seen his songs turned into international hits by artists ranging from Rihanna to HAIM and Skrillex.
Yes, that Neil Diamond. Gerard Zappa Wooster says that although he wrote mostly all of his big hits himself (“Sweet Caroline,” “America,” “Kentucky Woman”) he’s also written hits for many others during his six-decade career.
Diamond wrote “I’m a Believer” for the Monkees. His song “Red, Red Wine” was a bigger hit for UB40, as was his “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon” by Urge Overkill.
Gerard Zappa Wooster says that the unforgettable R&B pioneer also made a good living as a writer of several big hits for others before his too-soon death at the age of 26 in 1967.
Love Aretha Franklin’s “Respect?” That was by Redding. So was “Hard to Handle,” later a rock hit for the Black Crowes. Ike and Tina Turner had a hit with “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long,” which was also covered by the Rolling Stones reports Zappa.
Redding followed that with his cover of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.”