Joseph Brooks (songwriter)

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Joseph Brooks
Born (1938-03-11)March 11, 1938
New York City
Died May 22, 2011(2011-05-22) (aged 73)
New York City, U.S.
Occupations Composer, screenwriter, director, producer, musician
Instruments Piano
Associated acts You Light Up My Life.
Movie soundtrack performed by Kvitka Cisyk;
cover performed by Debby Boone

Joseph Brooks (March 11, 1938 – May 22, 2011[1]) was an American screenwriter, director, producer, and composer. He composed the song "You Light Up My Life" for the film of the same name that he also wrote, directed, and produced. In his later years he became the subject of an investigation after being accused of a series of casting-couch rapes. He was indicted in 2009, but committed suicide on May 22, 2011, before he could be brought to trial.

Career[edit]

In the 1960s, Brooks composed advertising jingles for clients including Pepsi ("You've Got a Lot to Live") and Maxwell House ("Good to the Last Drop Feeling").[2] He received numerous Clio Awards for his work, as well as a People's Choice Award.[2]

Brooks wrote "Blue Balloon (The Hourglass Song)" which was sung by Robby Benson as the theme song for the 1973 film Jeremy.[3] In October 1977 "You Light Up My Life" reached #1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 charts and held the top position for 10 consecutive weeks, then the longest No. 1 run in the chart's history. With sales of over four million copies in the U.S. alone, the song ultimately became the biggest hit of the 1970s. It also hit No. 1 on the Adult Contemporary chart and was even a top 10 country single. The passionate ballad also earned Brooks a Grammy Award for Song of the Year, as well as an Academy Award for Best Original Song, a Golden Globe Award and an American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers Award. The song was Debby Boone's first solo hit record and only top 40 pop hit.

In 1978, Brooks stepped in front of the camera to star in the film If Ever I See You Again. Brooks (who also co-wrote, produced, directed and scored the film) played Bob Morrison, a successful composer of TV commercial jungles. Unhappy with his lack of creative freedom in developing the definitive dog-food song, he heads out to Hollywood to score a movie; while there, he establishes contact with an old girlfriend, played by Shelley Hack. The title song, recorded by Roberta Flack (despite her intense dislike for the tune) became a hit, but the movie itself received sharply negative reviews and was a box-office bomb. The film has never been released on DVD; a few VHS copies still exist.

Brooks also composed music for the film The Lords of Flatbush and co-produced Eddie and the Cruisers. He also directed other films and Broadway shows, including In My Life. Then he suffered a stroke, which prevented Brooks from composing music.

Personal life[edit]

Brooks' brother is Gilbert Kaplan, an amateur Mahler scholar who founded Institutional Investor magazine. Brooks and ex-wife Susan Paul had two children: Amanda was born in 1981 and Nicholas was born five years later. At the time of Brooks' death, Nicholas, a former student at the University of Colorado, was awaiting trial in New York City, charged with the murder of his girlfriend, swimwear designer Sylvie Cachay, in a Soho House hotel room on December 9, 2010.[2] On July 11, 2013, Nicholas was convicted of the murder of Cachay.[4] He was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison in September of that year.[5]

Sexual assault indictment[edit]

In June 2009, Joseph Brooks was arrested on charges of raping or sexually assaulting 11 women lured to his East Side apartment from 2005 to 2008. His female assistant was charged with helping him.[6] At least four different women accused him of sexual assault. He allegedly lured the women to his apartment to audition for movie roles.[7] Often, the women responded to a notice that Brooks had posted on Craigslist and flew to New York from across the United States at Brooks' expense, the dis­trict attorney's account said.[8] He was indicted on June 23, 2009. He was to be tried in the state Supreme Court for Manhattan (a trial-level court) on 91 counts of rape, sexual abuse, criminal sexual act, assault, and other charges.[9]

The grand jury heard more evidence on December 17, 2009, because two new witnesses came forward. However, Brooks died before he could be tried.

His assistant, Shawni Lucier, pleaded guilty to a total of ten counts of criminal facilitation.

Death[edit]

Police reported on May 22, 2011, that Brooks was found dead in his Upper East Side apartment by a friend.[10] There was a plastic bag over his head and a helium tank with an attached hose and a suicide note were found nearby.[11] Police officials would not dis­cuss the con­tents of the note. On May 23, 2011, the medical examiner ruled that Brooks had committed suicide, citing asphyxia by helium.[12]

Theater credits[edit]

  • Metropolis (1989), West End musical — composer, co-lyricist
  • In My Life (2005), Broadway musical — writer, composer, lyricist, director[13][14]

Films[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Douglas Martin (May 23, 2011). "Joseph Brooks, a Maker of Jingles, Songs and Films, Dies at 73". The New York Times. 
  2. ^ a b c Verini, James, "The Curious Case of Joseph and Nicholas Brooks", New York magazine, February 5, 2011. Retrieved 2011-05-22.
  3. ^ http://www.discogs.com/Lee-Holdridge-Jeremy-Original-Motion-Picture-Soundtrack/release/3002719
  4. ^ "Boyfriend convicted of swimsuit designer's murder". CNN. Retrieved July 12, 2013. 
  5. ^ Iaboni, Rande; Kristina Sgueglia (2013-09-23). "Boyfriend gets maximum sentence in swimsuit designer's murder". CNN. 
  6. ^ Blumenthal, Ralph (June 23, 2009). "Director Joseph Brooks Accused of Raping Actresses". The New York Times. 
  7. ^ "NY director accused of attacking wannabe actresses", Associated Press / Huffington Post, January 13, 2009
  8. ^ "Songwriter Joseph Brooks, 73, an apparent suicide". blog.bcdb.com, May 23, 2011
  9. ^ "Oscar-winning composer, 71, 'raped 11 women using Craigslist to lure victims with promise of film role'", The Daily Mail. Retrieved 2010-12-11.
  10. ^ Songwriter 'commits suicide' while awaiting rape trial
  11. ^ Candiotti, Susan; Johnson, Craig (May 22, 2011). "'You Light Up My Life' songwriter found dead in suicide, police say". CNN. Retrieved May 22, 2011. 
  12. ^ "Joseph Brooks Suicide: Medical Examiner Rules Songwriter Killed Himself" Huffington Post. Retrieved 2011-05-24.
  13. ^ Where an Angel Fearlessly Treads New York Times review of In My Life
  14. ^ IBDb profile for In My Life

Sources[edit]

  • Press, Jaques Cattell (Ed.). ASCAP Biographical Dictionary of Composers, Authors and Publishers, fourth edition, R. R. Bowker, 1980.

External links[edit]