The Barry Manilow hit "I Write the Songs" was Bruce Johnston's most famous creation, but it also perfectly describes his career. Best known as a member of the Beach Boys, Johnston had a long and successful journey as ... Read more »
The Barry Manilow hit "I Write the Songs" was Bruce Johnston's most famous creation, but it also perfectly describes his career. Best known as a member of the Beach Boys, Johnston had a long and successful journey as a singer and songwriter, though he never quite became a household name on his own. Born on June 27, 1942 as Benjamin Baldwin, he was later adopted by William and Irene Johnston and raised in Beverly Hills, California. He studied classical piano as a child, progressing to pop and rock music as he grew older. Johnston began his career while in high school, performing with a variety of high-profile bands and playing on albums by The Teddy Bears and Ritchie Valens. While in college at UCLA, he released a few surf-themed singles and albums entitled Surfers' Pajama Party and Surfin' Around the World. In 1965, The Beach Boys' Brian Wilson retired from live performances due to a crippling fear of air travel, and Johnston stepped into his place as the group's onstage keyboardist. Johnston performed off and on with the iconic band for decades, and occasionally contributed to their studio recordings as well, playing piano on their hit "California Girls" and appearing on the critically acclaimed album Pet Sounds. In 1972, Johnston left the Beach Boys to embark on a mildly successful solo career. It was during this time that he wrote "I Write the Songs," which became a massive worldwide hit when covered by Barry Manilow in 1975. Manilow's version of the song earned Johnston the 1976 "Song of the Year" Grammy. Johnston rejoined The Beach Boys in the 1978 as a performer, songwriter and producer, and continued recording and performing with the band well into the 21st century, including the 2012 reunion album That's Why God Made the Radio.