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Bruce Johnston

Bruce Johnston

American singer, musician
Bruce Johnston
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro American singer, musician
Known for I Write the Songs
A.K.A. 00041637693 IPI, Benjamin Baldwin, Bruce Arthur Johnston
Is Musician Composer Singer Record producer Songwriter Pianist
From United States of America
Type Business Music
Gender male
Birth 27 June 1942, Peoria, USA
Age 78 years
Star sign Cancer
Politics Republican Party
The details


Bruce Arthur Johnston (born Benjamin Baldwin; June 27, 1942) is an American singer, musician, songwriter, and record producer best known as a member of the Beach Boys. In 1965, Johnston joined the band for live performances, filling in for the group's co-founder Brian Wilson, who had quit touring in order to spend more time in the studio. Johnston then became a contributing member on subsequent albums.

His songs for the Beach Boys include "Tears in the Morning" (1970), "Deirdre" (1970), and "Disney Girls (1957)" (1971). He served as a producer for the Beach Boys albums L.A. (Light Album) (1979) and Keepin' the Summer Alive (1980). Johnston is also known for his early 1960s collaborations with Terry Melcher as Bruce & Terry and with the surf band the Rip Chords, as well as composing the 1975 Barry Manilow hit, "I Write the Songs". He continues to tour as a member of the Beach Boys alongside band co-founder Mike Love.

Early life

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 the private Bel Air Town and Country School (later renamed John Thomas Dye School) in Los Angeles and studied classical piano in his early years. Johnston trained at Interlochen Arts Camp as a youth.


1957–1965: Beginnings

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 Eddie Cochran. In 1959, while still in high school, Johnston arranged and played on his first hit record, "Teen Beat" by Sandy Nelson. The single 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 & Jerry duo (Jerry Cooper was a high school friend of Bruce's).

In 1960, Johnston started his record production career at Del-Fi Records, producing five singles and an album – Love You So – by Ron Holden (many of the album's eleven tracks were written or co-written by Johnston). In 1962 and 1963, Johnston continued his recording career with a series of surfin' singles (vocal & instrumental) and an album, Surfin' 'Round 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 (Doris Day's son), 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. The two of them made a few recordings as Bruce & Terry and the Rogues, but Melcher began to focus more on his production career (with the Byrds, Paul Revere & the Raiders).

1965–1972: The Beach Boys

On April 9, 1965, Johnston joined the Beach Boys in New Orleans, 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 the "Summer Days & Summer Nights" album. Bruce recorded his voice on "California Girls" and that track became one of the most successful singles form the album (although for contractual reasons he would not be credited or photographed on a Beach Boys album cover until 1967 on the Wild Honey album). Johnston has been credited by the Library of Congress 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, Paul McCartney, and Keith Moon, who was a Beach Boys fan. Johnston wrote several Beach Boys songs: "The Nearest Faraway Place" (instrumental) and notably 1971's "Disney Girls (1957)", which was subsequently recorded by Cass Elliot, Captain & Tennille, Art Garfunkel, Jack Jones, and Doris Day. Johnston also sang lead on three songs from the 1970 Beach Boys album Sunflower: "Tears in the Morning" (which he also wrote), "Deirdre" (Brian co-wrote this song with Bruce), and "At My Window".

1972–1977: Solo career

Johnston left the Beach Boys in 1972 to embark on a solo career, and wrote the Billboard number one, Barry Manilow hit "I Write the Songs", for which he won a Grammy Award for Song of the Year. "I Write the Songs" has been recorded by over two hundred artists (including Frank Sinatra). In regards to the Grammy win Johnston stated "How did I win a Grammy for a song that I wrote in my car and Brian Wilson and Mike Love have not won a well deserved songwriting Grammy? Why is fate being so unfair to two of my pop music songwriting heroes?"

1979–present: Return to the Beach Boys

Johnston returned to the fold in 1979 at Brian Wilson's request to appear on (and co-produce) the album L.A. (Light Album). The following year he was credited as sole producer on the follow-up LP, Keepin' the Summer Alive. Johnston has remained with the Beach Boys ever since and was the only member to continue touring with Mike Love as the Beach Boys after the death of Carl Wilson.

In June 2012, Johnston, Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, and David Marks reunited for a new album and 50th anniversary tour. 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 Grammy Award for Song of the Year.

Other work

In 1967, he sang on "My World Fell Down", a minor hit for the Gary Usher-led studio group Sagittarius. On his Columbia Records 1977 solo album Going Public, he scored a hit on the disco charts with a dance-oriented remake of the Chantays' hit "Pipeline". Also in 1977, he vocal arranged and sang back-up vocals on Eric Carmen's LP Boats Against the Current and can be heard on the hit single "She Did It", on which he also arranged the vocals. In addition, Johnston wrote backing vocal arrangements and also sang on the recordings for Elton John including "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" and several songs on Pink Floyd's album The Wall.

Personal life

Johnston was the subject of some controversy during the band's 50th Anniversary Tour when a fan video during a meet and greet caught him being critical of then president Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney.




Year Album details
June 1962 Surfers' Pajama Party
  • Released: June 1962
  • Label: Del-Fi Records
July 1963 Surfin' Round the World
  • Released: July 1963
  • Label: Columbia Records
May 1977 Going Public
  • Released: May 1977
  • Label: Columbia Records


Date of release Title Label Chart positions
February 1962 "Do the Surfer Stomp (Part One)"/"Do the Surfer Stomp (Part Two)" Donna never charted
April, 1962 "Soupy Shuffle Stomp"/"Moon Shot" Donna never charted
March, 1963 "The Original Surfer Stomp"/"Pajama Party" Del-Fi never charted
August, 1977 (UK) "Pipeline"/"Disney Girls" CBS Records #33 (UK)
September, 1977 "Pipeline"/"Disney Girls" + "Pipeline"/"Deirdre" (12") Columbia Records never charted
1977 "Rendezvous"/"I Write the Songs" Columbia Records never charted

with the Beach Boys

  • Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!) (1965)
  • Beach Boys' Party! (1965)
  • Pet Sounds (1966)
  • Smiley Smile (1967)
  • Wild Honey (1967)
  • Friends (1968)
  • 20/20 (1969)
  • Sunflower (1970)
  • Surf's Up (1971)
  • L.A. (Light Album) (1979)
  • Keepin' the Summer Alive (1980)
  • The Beach Boys (1985)
  • Still Cruisin' (1989)
  • Summer in Paradise (1992)
  • Stars and Stripes Vol. 1 (1996)
  • That's Why God Made the Radio (2012)

with Mike Love

  • Unleash the Love (2017)
  • Reason for the Season (2018)
  • 12 Sides of Summer (2019)
The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 07 Feb 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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