As the co-writer of "Mandy," "Looks Like We Made It," and "Somewhere in the Night" -- all huge hits for Barry Manilow -- pianist Richard Kerr has made some of the most beautiful pop/easy listening music ever made.
Kerr's songwriting dreams began when he was given the opportunity to pursue songwriting full time after his disapproving employer fired him (after discovering a rock & roll album Kerr had recorded for a small progressive record label). The Englishman went on to have his songs recorded by Frank Sinatra, Johnny Mathis, Andy Williams, Yvonne Elliman, Jennifer Warnes, Glen Campbell, and the Edwin Hawkins Singers.
Not long after having been "shown the door" by his boss, Kerr had a number two hit in England -- "Blue Eyes" by Don Partridge, later covered by Frank Sinatra. Then Kerr was hired as a staff producer at RCA Records' London branch. Not finding any artists that he wanted to produce, Kerr accepted a Screen Gems staff writing job. While there he co-wrote "Brandy" (not to be confused with the '70s hit by Looking Glass) with lyricist/recording artist Scott English. The record became a Top Ten British hit and peaked at number 91 pop in March 1972.
Clive Davis, president of Bell Records (now Arista), suggested that Manilow record the song as a ballad. Davis changed the song title to "Mandy" and Manilow had his first chart record, going all the way to number one pop on January 18, 1975. Around 1976, while visiting Hollywood, Kerr signed with Rondor Music, A&M Records' European music publishing company. He was initially teamed with songwriter John Bettis (the Carpenters) but was introduced to lyricist Will Jennings by Irving Music executive Lance Freed. Their first song, "Somewhere in the Night," became Kerr's first U.S. hit, going to number 19 pop for Helen Reddy in 1975. Another Kerr-Jennings composition, "Looks Like We Made It," gave Manilow his third number one pop hit on July 23, 1977. Manilow's version of "Somewhere in the Night" went to number nine pop in 1978. In November 1978, Kerr's first solo album, Welcome to the Club, was released by A&M Records. Produced by Chris Bond (Hall and Oates), it was solid MOR pop with Kerr contributing both acoustic grand and electric piano and co-writing the LP's ten tunes with frequent collaborator Jennings, Gary Osborne, and Bettis. Other albums by Kerr include From Now Until, Somewhere in the Night, and Same. ~ Ed Hogan, Rovi