Bruce Johnston

Written By: Stomp

Bruce+Johnston+johnstonBruce Arthur Johnston (born Benjamin Baldwin on June 27, 1942 in Peoria, Illinois) is a member of The Beach Boys and a Grammy Award-winning songwriter, remembered especially for composing “I Write the Songs.” Johnston was not one of the original members of the band. He joined the band on April 9, 1965 after Glen Campbell (who was substituting on stage for the group’s chief song writer Brian Wilson) decided to embark on a solo career. Johnston’s first vocal recording with the Beach Boys was “California Girls.”

As a child Johnston was adopted by William and Irene Johnston of Chicago, and grew up on the West side of Los Angeles in Brentwood and Bel-Air. His adoptive father was president of the Owl Rexall Drug Company in Los Angeles after moving from Walgreens in Chicago. Johnston attended private school in Los Angeles and also studied classical piano in his early years. In high school, Johnston switched to contemporary music. He performed in a few “beginning” bands during this time and then moved on to working with young musicians such as Sandy Nelson, Kim Fowley and Phil Spector. Soon Johnston began backing people such as Ritchie Valens, the Everly Brothers, and even Eddie Cochran. In 1959 while still in high school, Johnston arranged and played on his first hit record called “Teenbeat” by Sandy Nelson. The single record reached the Billboard Top Ten. The same year Johnston made his first single under his own name, “Take This Pearl” on Arwin Records (a record label owned by Doris Day) as part of the Bruce & Terry duo.

bruce-johnston-beach-boys2In 1960 Johnston started his record production career at Del-Fi Records, producing five singles and an album — Love You So — by Ron Holden (for good measure, all but two of the album’s eleven tracks were written or co-written by him. In 1962 and 1963 Johnston resurrected his recording career with a series of surfin’ singles (vocal & instrumental) and an album, Surfin Around The World, credited to Bruce Johnston and another “live” album, The Bruce Johnston Surfin’ Band’s Surfer’s Pajama Party. In 1963 came the first collaboration with his friend Terry Melcher, a mostly instrumental covers album credited to The Hot Doggers. The first artist the pair produced was a group called The Rip Chords. Johnston and Melcher were now working as staff producers at Columbia Records, Hollywood and by the time they were producing the million selling “Hey Little Cobra,” a knock-off of the Beach Boys car song vocal style, they also wound up singing every layered vocal part for the recording using an Ampex three track recording machine (without sel-sync!). The two of them made a few recordings as Bruce & Terry, or The Rogues, but Terry Melcher began to focus more on his production career (The Byrds, Paul Revere and The Raiders). On April 9, 1965, Johnston joined the Beach Boys, replacing Glen Campbell who was playing bass on the road and singing Brian Wilson’s vocal parts. Johnston did not start playing bass until his first tenure with the Beach Boys, and the very first vocal recording Johnston made as one of the Beach Boys was California Girls. On his solo album from 1977, Going Public, he recorded a version of the Lynsey De Paul-penned “Won’t Somebody Dance With Me”. He also scored a hit on the disco charts with a dance-oriented remake of the Chantays’ hit “Pipeline”. Also in 1977 he sang back-up vocals on Eric Carmen’s LP, Boats Against the Current, and can be clearly heard on the hit single, “She Did It.”

Johnston is frequently credited as one of the original greatest supporters of the Beach Boys’ 1966 signature album Pet Sounds. He flew to London in May 1966 and played the album for John Lennon and Paul McCartney. He wrote several Beach Boy songs, notably 1971’s “Disney Girls (1957)”, a favorite of Brian Wilson’s, which was covered by both Captain & Tennille and Art Garfunkel.

He wrote the Billboard number one, Barry Manilow hit (“I Write the Songs”) for which he won a Grammy. “I Write The Songs” has been recorded by over two hundred artists (including Frank Sinatra) and it currently has a cumulative singles/albums worldwide sales figure of twenty-five million copies. In addition, Johnston wrote backing vocal arrangements and also sang on the recordings for Elton John’s “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” and Pink Floyd’s album The Wall.”

Johnston left the Beach Boys in 1972, returning to the fold in 1979 to appear on (and produce) the album L.A. (Light Album). As of 2009[update], Johnston is still a member of the touring version of The Beach Boys, performing 170 concerts a year. Despite his long involvement with the band he no longer has a full membership in Brother Records having traded his shares (but not his artist royalties) in 1972. Johnston still retains his equal ownership of the band’s ASCAP publishing company, Wilojarston, and is the only member of the band to have earned a Song of the Year Grammy.

This is an abridged extract from wikipedia