Classic Rock Songwriters: Graham Gouldman

Graham Gouldman

Photo: Brian Marks [CC BY 2.0 (]

ClassicRockHistory’s new songwriter series will take a look at rock and roll songwriters who have penned legendary classic rock songs. In some cases, the songwriters will be rock stars themselves. In many cases they will just be the faces behind the rock stars. The ones who know how to write a great song but don’t necessarily want to go out on the road and perform. There are so many songwriters who have composed thousands of classic rock songs that deserve more credit for their contribution to rock and roll. This series aims to spread the word of who they are and what they have accomplished. On the flip side, there are many famous rock stars who have written songs for other artists that the general public are not aware off. That is where we will start our Classic Rock Songwriter series .

Our Great Classic Rock Songwriter series begins with one of our favorite songwriters / rock stars, Graham Gouldman. Hardcore classic rock fans will recognize the name as one the founding members of the classic 1970’s rock band 10cc. However, many of those hardcore fans probably do not realize that Graham Gouldman has written many songs for other rock artist that have become huge hits. We will look at both Graham Gouldman’s materiel he released with his own bands as well as the material he composed for other rock stars.

In 1965, Graham Gouldman composed a song that would hit number one on the United Kingdom music charts and reach number six on the U.S Billboard Hot 100. Over time, the song would become on of the most popular songs in classic rock history. At only 19 years old, Graham Gouldman composed the song “For Your Love.” The Yardbirds recorded the song and the rest is history. Imagine having a number one record at the tender age of just nineteen. Not only was the song a number one hit for The Yardbirds, the album it was released on was named after the song.

Graham Gouldman composed two mores songs that were recorded by The Yardbirds. “Evil Hearted You” and ” Heart Full Of Soul,” both appeared on the next Yardbirds album entitled Having a Rave Up with the Yardbirds. Jeff Beck played guitar on both tracks. 1965 was a good year for Graham Gouldman as he also had another big hit with the song “Look Through Any Window.” The song was recorded by The Hollies and it became the band’s first US Top 40 hit. Graham Gouldman co-wrote the song with Charles Silverman.

In 1965, Graham Gouldman also wrote songs for The Shindigs, Dave Berry, and Little Frankie. The hits kept coming the following year in 1966. He wrote the song “I’m 28,” for Toni Basil who would have a number one record 16 years later with “Mickey.” Once again, Graham Gouldman penned some major hits for The Hollies as he wrote their smash hit “Bus Stop.” In 1966, Herman Hermits recorded a Graham Gouldman song entitled “Listen People.” The song was released on the Both Sides of Herman’s Hermits album. The album also contained a cover of Graham Gouldman’s “Bus Stop.” On Herman’s Hermits follow up album There’s a Kind of Hush All Over the World, the band recorded two more Graham Gouldman songs entitled “No Milk Today,” and “East West.” In 1966 Graham Gouldman also penned songs for the Downliners Sect,  High Society, and the St Louis Union.

Graham Gouldman continued to have his songs recorded by Herman Hermits. The band recorded “Upstairs Downstairs,” for their Blaze album in 1967. Herman’s Hermits also recorded four Graham Gouldman songs for their Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter album which was released in 1968. That same year, Cher recorded Graham Gouldman’s song “Behind The Door.” In 1967, Gouldman composed the songs Schoolgirl and The Letter for The Mindbenders. A year later he would join the Mindbenders just before the band broke up. While a member of The Mindbenders, Gouldman also wrote “Uncle Joe, the Ice Cream Man” It was during Gouldman’s time in The Mindbenders that he began working with Eric Stewart who he would later form the band 10cc with. ,

In 1968 Graham Gouldman also wrote songs for Jeff Beck (Tallyman), High Society (People Passing By), Friday Browne (Ask any woman/The outdoor seminar ), Normie Rowe (Going Home), The Manchester Mob(Bony Maronie / Afro Asian), The Shadows (Naughty Nippon Nights), and the legendary Wayne Fontana ( The Impossible Years)

During the time Graham Gouldman was composing hit after hit for The Hollies, Hermans Hermits, The Yardbirds and others, he released his debut solo album entitled The Graham Gouldman Thing. Graham Gouldman worked with Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones and their engineer Eddie Kramer on the album. This was before the release of Led Zeppelin’s debut album.

In 1969 Graham Gouldman was hired by Jerry Kasenetz and Jeffry Katz of Super K Productions to write songs for multiple artists. Kasenetz and Katz pushed Goudman hard go turn out songs. Over the next three years Graham Gouldman composed songs for artists such as, Ohio Express, Garden Odyssey Enterprise, Chords Five, Gene Pitney, Leslie Crowther, Eric Elde, The Peddlers, Crazy Elephant, Barry Greenfield, Wayne Fontana, Suzette St. Claire, Fighter Squadron, Festival, Tristar Airbus, Peter Noone, and many others.

In 1973, Graham Gouldman formed 10cc along with Eric Stewart, Kevin Godley, and Lol Creme, The four musicians had been working together as studio musicians on others artists projects including Neil Sedaka. Eric Stewart, Kevin Godley, and Lol Creme had also recorded songs under their own group name Hotlegs and had a hit with a song called “Neanderthal Man.”

10cc’s first album entitled 10cc was released in 1973. The four musicians would released four 10cc albums together 10cc in 1973, Sheet Music in 1974, The Original Soundtrack in 1975 and How Dare You! in 1976. Kevin Godley, and Lol Creme left the band after the How Dare You! album. Graham Gouldman and Kevin Stewart continued on as 10cc releasing the albums  Deceptive Bends in 1977, Bloody Tourists in 1978, Look Hear? in 1980, Ten Out of 10 in 1981, Windows in the Jungle in 1983, …Meanwhile in 1992 and Mirror Mirror in 1995.  The 1992 …Meanwhile featured a reunion of the four original members. The album did not do that well commercially and the reunion only lasted for one record.

During his time as a founding member of 10cc Graham Gouldman was responsible for writing many of the bands hits.The band composed many of their songs in different combinations of writing credits. Godley and Creme wrote many songs together as did Gouldman and Stewart work together.However they did mix it up. The band’s first number one single in the U.K entitled “Rubber Bullets,” was written by Kevin Godley, Lol Creme, and Graham Gouldman. From that point on Graham Gouldman received writing credit on many of the band’s biggest hits and most loved songs including “The Wall Street Shuffle, The Worst Band In The World, I’m Not In Love, I Wanna Rule The World, Art For Art’s Sake, Honeymoon with B Troop and Dreadlock Holiday.”

In 1984 Graham Gouldman formed the band Wax with Andrew Gold who had two previous mega hit singles entitled Lonely Boy and Thank You For Being A Friend. Graham Gouldman and Andrew Gould released multiple studio albums between 1984 and 2000 entitled Magnetic Heaven in 1986, American English in 1987, A Hundred Thousand in Fresh Notes in 1989, The Wax Files in 1997, common in 1998 and Wax Bikini in 2000. The duo had a top 20 hit in the U.K. in 1986 with the song “Bridge To Your Heart”

In between Graham Gouldman’s success as a founding member of the groups 10cc and Wax, the legendary songwriter released four solo albums starting with the already mentioned The The Graham Gouldman Thing in 1968 and continuing with Animalympics in 1980,  And Another Thing… in 2000 and Love and Workin 2012. Into the 1980s and beyond Graham Gouldman continued to write and co-write songs for other artists such as Joe Cocker, Paul Carrack, Paul Young ,Kirsty MacColl, McFly, Renato Zero, Jamie Benson, Gary Barlow Stronger, Dingo, Brian Houston, Adam Bard and probably many more artists that we are not aware of.

Most songwriters would give up a body part just to have a top 40 hit, Graham Gouldman has had a lifetime of hits. However, it has not just been a lifetime of hits but rather a body of work that defined the meaning of substance in a pop song. It’s not easy to write a hit that delivers great melody, lyrics and chord changes that is addictive to listen too and that both critics and fans fall in love with. Graham Gouldman did that consistently in the 1960s and 1970s. Furthermore Graham Gouldman’s work with 10cc resulted in a progressive approach to songwriting and arranging popular music. Not many band were releasing records like 10cc. They had a very original sound that blended elements of The Beatles, The Moody Blues and Frank Zappa all into one deep creative pot of rock and roll pop music. Graham Gouldman’s creativity continued into the 1980s and 1990s with Wax and as a solo artist. He also has continued to tour with 10cc as the only remaining original member.

Since 1965, Graham Gouldman has been one of the most important contributors to popular music. As both a performing artist and songwriter, Graham Gouldman stands as one of classic rock’s greatest artists.

Graham Gouldman’s Look Through Any Window- performed by The Hollies

Eric Stewart /Graham Gouldman’s I’m Not In Love- performed by 10cc

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