John Bettis

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John Bettis (born 24 October 1946) is an American lyricist who has co-written many famous popular songs over the years. In 2011, John was inducted into both the Songwriters Hall of Fame as well as the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.

He was originally part of the band Spectrum, which also featured Richard and Karen Carpenter. He provided the lyrics for many hit songs for The Carpenters' ("Top of the World", "Only Yesterday", "Goodbye to Love" and "Yesterday Once More"), and later for other famous artists such as Madonna ("Crazy for You"), Michael Jackson ("Human Nature"), The Pointer Sisters ("Slow Hand") Diana Ross ("When You Tell Me That You Love Me"), Jennifer Warnes ("Nights Are Forever"), Peabo Bryson ("Can You Stop the Rain"), George Strait ("Heartland"), Ronnie Milsap ("Only One Love in My Life"), and Barbara Mandrell ("One Of A Kind Pair Of Fools"). Bettis also co-wrote "One Moment in Time", the 1988 Summer Olympics anthem performed by Whitney Houston, and the theme song to the 1980s sitcom Growing Pains, "As Long As We Got Each Other."

He was born in Long Beach, California, the son of Wayne Douglas and Nellie Jane (House) Bettis, and attended San Pedro High School, Class of 1964. He was a member of the choir and attended plays in the evenings with a group of drama students. After graduation he attended California State University.

In theatre, John has provided lyrics for the musicals Lunch (tour 1994); Svengali (1992); The Last Session (L.A. Drama critics Award, Best Musical Score 1998); Say Goodnight (1999); Pure Country (2008) and most recently Josephine (2011).

As of mid-2008, Bettis has nearly 800 song credits in the ASCAP database.

Early life[edit]

John Bettis was born in Long Beach, California, the son of Wayne Douglas and Nellie Jane (House) Bettis, and attended California State University.

While raised in Southern California, his family’s roots are in Missouri’s Ozark Mountains. John was introduced to country music at a very early age. Bettis began singing and playing trumpet when he was eight. In high school, he took up the guitar.

At age 16, he auditioned and landed the lead role in a high-school production of Carousel where he first discovered the craft of songwriting. Shortly after, Bettis and his understudy formed a folk duo and began performing and touring on the folk circuit, opening for acts like Hoyt Axton, Ian & Sylvia and The Dillards.

While attending California State University in Long Beach, John was writing songs for his college choir when he met fellow student Richard Carpenter and his sister Karen. The three of them formed a band called Spectrum in 1966. In order to make money for equipment, John and Richard formed a duo with John on banjo and Richard on piano and regularly performed a golden oldies set at Disneyland.

Songwriting career[edit]

Richard and Karen Carpenter signed a contract with A&M Records in 1969. Their debut Offering contained 11 songs co-written by Bettis but was not a commercial success. At the request of label owner Herb Alpert, the team recorded “Close to You”, a Bacharach/David composition, in 1970 which became the Carpenters first hit with the Bettis/Carpenter-penned “Goodbye to Love” and “Yesterday Once More” finding equal success in 1972 and 1973.

During this time, Bettis was spending half the year in Nashville, Tennessee, slowly getting acquainted with the songwriting community. After hearing the Carpenter/Bettis song “Top of the World”, country star Lynn Anderson recorded the song, earning Bettis his first success in country music. Anderson was the first to release the song as a single and make it a hit in 1973. The success of Anderson's recording prompted the Carpenters to release their version as a single that same year. The Carpenters version peaked at #1 for two weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in December 1973.

While the Carpenters rose to fame with co-written hits like “Only Yesterday,” “I Need to Be in Love” and their own version of “Top of the World,” Bettis continued working in Nashville. In 1978, Ronnie Milsap had a number one hit with Bettis’ co-written "Only One Love in My Life".

In 1981, The Pointer Sisters peaked at number two for three weeks on Billboard’s Hot 100 as well as number 7 on the R&B chart with “Slow Hand”, written by John Bettis and Michael Clark, with Conway Twitty making it a number one hit on ’’Billboard’s’’ Hot Country Singles Chart the following year. Clark and Bettis also co-wrote Juice Newton's “Heart of the Night” and Donna Summer’sThe Woman in Me”.

In 1983, Bettis gained his biggest achievement with “Human Nature”, a ballad penned for Michael Jackson's multi-platinum album ’’Thriller’’. Originally a throwaway lyric and melody snippet composed by Toto’s Steve Porcaro, the entire song was later written in its entirety by Bettis and Porcaro in two days. ‘’Thriller’’ became the best selling record of all time, and “Human Nature” has since been recorded by Boyz II Men, Miles Davis, John Mayer, George Howard and David Benoit. It has also been sampled by SWV, Ne-Yo, 2Pac, Lil Wayne, Nas and Chris Brown. That same year, Barbara Mandrell’sOne of a Kind Pair of Fools” reached number one on the country charts.

In 1985, Bettis accepted an assignment in Hollywood to write a song for the soundtrack of the film Vision Quest. The end result was “Crazy for You” a song not originally written for, but recorded by Madonna. Perhaps Bettis’ best-known commissioned work is “As Long As We Got Each Other”, co-written with long-time collaborator Steve Dorff as the theme song to the hit ABC Network television sitcom Growing Pains, sung by 5-time Grammy winner B.J. Thomas for all 7 Seasons, solo for Seasons 1 and 6; and, as a duet with Jennifer Warnes for Seasons 2, 3, 5, and 7; and, with Dusty Springfield for Season 4.

In 1988, he co-wrote “One Moment in Time” with Albert Hammond which was recorded by Whitney Houston as the theme for the Summer Olympics.

John Bettis continued developing an eclectic catalog into the 1990s. 1991’s “Can You Stop the Rain” topped the R&B charts in 1991 for Peabo Bryson. “If You Go Away” was a top 20 hit in 1992 for New Kids on the Block, and “ "Heartland”, from the soundtrack to the film Pure Country, was a number one hit for George Strait.

Theater[edit]

John has provided lyrics for the musicals Lunch (tour 1994); Svengali (1992); The Last Session (L.A. Drama critics Award, Best Musical Score 1998); Say Goodnight (1999); Pure Country (2008) and most recently Josephine (2011).

Awards[edit]

Bettis has had Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for "Promise Me You'll Remember", as Best Original Song for his work on Godfather III. Other nominations include: Grammy nominations for "Can You Stop The Rain" - Best R&B Song; "One Moment In Time" - Best Song, Film & TV (Theme, 1988 Olympics). John received two Emmy Awards: "Where There is Hope" and "One Moment In Time" and received Emmy nominations for "Swept Away" - Best Music & Lyrics and "As Long As We Got Each Other" - Best Music & Lyrics. He was also nominated for Nashville Songwriters Association [1] Song of the Year and Music City Song of the Year.

In 2011, John was inducted into both the Songwriters Hall of Fame as well as the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Personal life[edit]

John Bettis currently lives in Nashville, Tennessee with his family where he has resided since 1996.

Songs[edit]

References[edit]