Rick Nowels

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Rick Nowels
Birth nameRichard Wright Nowels Jr.
BornPalo Alto, California, U.S.
  • Record producer
  • songwriter
Years active1986–present
Associated acts

Richard Wright Nowels Jr. is an American songwriter, record producer, arranger, and multi-instrumentalist.[1] He co-wrote and produced over 60 hit singles. His songs have appeared on over 200 albums.

Nowels's songs have been recorded by: Lana Del Rey, Adele, Stevie Nicks, Dua Lipa, Miguel, Madonna, Dido, Jamie xx, FKA Twigs, Lykke Li, Alessia Cara, Sia, Florence Welch, Joan Jett, Tom Odell, Alec Benjamin, New Radicals,[2] The Weeknd, ASAP Rocky, Jewel, CeeLo Green, Marina and the Diamonds, Brandon Flowers, Colbie Caillat, *NSYNC, Celine Dion, Belinda Carlisle, John Legend, André 3000, Santana, and Tupac.[3]

Nowels co-wrote the title track for Celine Dion's album Falling into You, which won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 1997.[4] In 1998, Nowels' co-written song “The Power of Good-Bye” was released on Madonna's Grammy Award winning studio album, Ray of Light. Nowels co-wrote “The Game of Love” performed by Santana and Michelle Branch, which won ASCAP Song of the Year in 2003. He also co-wrote the track "White Flag" for Dido, which won the 2004 Ivor Novello Award for International Hit of the Year.[5] Nowels co-wrote and co-produced songs on six albums for Lana Del Rey's Born to Die, Paradise, Ultraviolence, Honeymoon, Lust for Life and Norman Fucking Rockwell. Nowels and Del Rey's song "Young and Beautiful" featured on The Great Gatsby: Music from Baz Luhrmann's Film soundtrack, was nominated for a Grammy Award, Critics' Choice Awards, and won Best Original Song at the 18th Satellite Awards.

In 2020, Nowels was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.[6]

Early life[edit]

Nowels was born in Palo Alto, California.[7]


Early success[edit]

In 1985, Stevie Nicks recorded Nowels’ song “I Can't Wait” in Los Angeles, giving Rick his first major songwriting and production credit.[8] He was later asked to co-produce Nicks’ album Rock a Little alongside Jimmy Iovine. The album was released in 1986 and featured 5 songs produced by Nowels.[9][10] “I Can't Wait” peaked at number 16 for two weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and is one of only four of Nicks' singles to enter the Dance Club Songs chart.[11]

In 1987, Nowels produced Belinda Carlisle's album Heaven on Earth. The album also featured four songs written by Nowels, including “Heaven Is a Place on Earth”, “I Get Weak" and "Circle in the Sand" which went to number one, number two and number six respectively, on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.[12][13]


While Nowels was in New York for the Grammy Awards in 1997, he met Madonna during a shopping expedition at Barneys. She later booked two weeks’ worth of writing time with Rick in his Hollywood Hills studio.[14] Together they wrote “The Power of Good-Bye,”[15]Little Star,” and “To Have and Not to Hold”, all featured on Madonna's seventh studio album, Ray of Light.[16][17]

Ray of Light won Best Pop Album at the 1998 Grammy Awards, where Madonna thanked Nowels from the stage during her acceptance speech. The album also won Best Recording Package, Best Dance Recording, and Best Short Form Music Video.[18]

In 2014, Nowels and Madonna collaborated again on a song, “Beautiful Scars,” for her thirteenth studio album, Rebel Heart.


Nowels met Dido in 1999 where she was making her debut album No Angel under Cheeky Records, an independent label in London. Rick co-produced three songs on her first album including "Here With Me," "Hunter," and "All You Want," all which were released as singles to promote the album.[19] "Here With Me" became Dido's debut single as an artist, peaking at number four in the UK Singles Chart.[20] The album No Angel went on to sell 15 million copies worldwide and made Dido an international superstar.[21]

In 2002, Rick and Dido collaborated again to produce her second album Life For Rent. Nowels wrote five songs featured on the album, including singles "White Flag"[22] and "Sand in My Shoes." The album became the seventh best-selling album of the 2000s in the UK, was nominated for a Grammy, won the award for "Best Single" at the 2004 Brit Awards, won "International Hit of the Year" at the 2004 Ivor Novello Awards, and other accolades.[23]

The pair went on to collaborate on Dido's Safe Trip Home album in 2008, her Girl Who Got Away album in 2013, and her 2019 album Still on My Mind.

Lana Del Rey[edit]

Nowels met Lana Del Rey in the spring of 2011.[24]

In a three-day writing session they composed, “Summertime Sadness,” “Dark Paradise,” “Lucky Ones,” and “TV in Black & White.” The three songs were released on Del Rey's 2012 Born To Die album, peaking at number one in the UK in 2012. The album sold 77,000 copies in the US within the first week and peaked at number two on the Billboard Top 200, just behind Adele’s album, 21. It received gold certification in 2013 and became the fifth best-selling album of 2012, selling 3.4 million copies.[25][26][27][28]

In November 2012, Del Rey released, The Paradise Edition, of the Born To Die album with three songs written and produced by Nowels and Del Rey. “Body Electric," “American,” and “Cola.”[29][30]

In 2013, Nowels and Del Rey's song, “Young and Beautiful,” was featured in Baz Luhrmann’s film, The Great Gatsby. The song was featured throughout the film and incorporated into the score by Craig Armstrong. “Young and Beautiful,” was released in April 2013. By June 2013 it rose to number three on the charts and has sold over a million copies since its release.[31][32]

In 2015, Del Rey released her fourth studio album, Honeymoon. The entire album was co-written by Del Rey and Nowels with the exception of the cover, “Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood.” Del Rey and Nowels’ singles include, “High by the Beach,” as well as, “Music To Watch Boys To.” Honeymoon, debuted at number two on the US Billboard 200 and reached number one in Australia, Greece, Ireland, and number two in the UK.[33][34][35]

In 2017, Del Rey released her fifth studio album, Lust For Life. Del Rey and Nowels co-wrote 14 of the songs for the album including the 3 singles, “Love,” “Lust for Life,” ft. the Weeknd and “White Mustang.” The album was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Album. It debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200, as well as the UK Albums Chart.[36][37][38]


Notable works[edit]

Personal life[edit]

Nowels married singer-songwriter, Maria Vidal, in 1990. Vidal attended New York University and is known for writing the hit dance song, "Body Rock," charting on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.[39] The couple have a son, Tommy, born in 1993. Nowles is a supporter of TreePeople Los Angeles, The Sierra Club, and the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC).

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Nominated work Category Result Notes
2014 Young and Beautiful by Lana Del Rey Satellite Award for Best Original Song Won Co-writer
2004 White Flag Ivor Novello Award for International Hit of the Year Won Co-writer

ASCAP Pop Music Awards[edit]

Year Nominated work Category Result Notes
2014 The Game of Love by Santana ft. Michelle Branch Song of the Year Won Co-writer

Grammy Awards[edit]

Year Nominee / work Award Result Ref.
2013 "Young And Beautiful" Best Song Written for Visual Media Nominated [40]
2003 "Love One Another" Best Dance Recording Nominated
1997 Falling into You Album of the Year Won
1994 "Body and Soul" Best R&B Song Nominated


  1. ^ "Rick Nowels". Discogs. Retrieved February 8, 2019.
  2. ^ Credits for "Maybe You've Been Brainwashed Too" at Allmusic
  3. ^ "Rick Nowels Interview - Hit Songwriter & Producer". Retrieved October 2, 2015.
  4. ^ "39th Annual GRAMMY Awards (1996)". Grammy Award. Retrieved February 8, 2019.
  5. ^ "The 49th Ivor Novello Awards were presented by BASCA and sponsored by PRS on 27th May 2004 at the Grosvenor House, London". Retrieved February 8, 2019.
  6. ^ Mariah Carey, The Neptunes, & Rick Nowels Will Be Inducted Into The 2020 Songwriters Hall Of Fame at Genius.com; by Chris Mench; published January 16, 2020; retrieved October 15, 2020
  7. ^ Thakur, Pradeep (2010). MADONNA: Unstoppable!. Punjab, India. ISBN 978-8-190-87057-3.
  8. ^ I Can't Wait by Stevie Nicks at Songfacts.com; retrieved 2019
  9. ^ HIGH-GLOSS POP ALBUMS FLOURISH ONCE AGAIN at The New York Times; by Stephen Holden; published February 6, 1986; retrieved 2019
  10. ^ TOM PETTY AND THE HEARTBREAKERS MOVE IN SPIRITED TRACKS at Chicago Tribune; by Daniel Brogan; published December 6, 1985; retrieved 2019
  11. ^ Rock a Little at AllMusic.com; retrieved 2019
  12. ^ Belinda Carlisle at Official Charts; retrieved 2019
  13. ^ "American album certifications – Belinda Carlisle – Heaven on Earth" at Recording Industry Association of America; retrieved 2019
  14. ^ Hit Writer/Producer Rick Nowels Talks About His Great Career, Working With Lana Del Rey, John Legend, Madonna and Santana at Songwriter Universe; by Dale Kawashima; published June 11, 2015; retrieved 2019
  15. ^ Madonna's ‘Ray Of Light’ Turns 15: Backtracking at Idolator; by Stephen Sears; published March 4, 2013; retrieved 2019
  16. ^ Hits of the World at Billboard; published December 12, 1998; retrieved 2019
  17. ^ Madonna: The ‘Ray of Light’ Cover Story, ‘Madonna Chooses Dare’ at SPIN; by Barry Walters; published March 3, 2016; retrieved 2019
  18. ^ General Categories at Los Angeles Times; published February 25, 1999; retrieved 2019
  19. ^ Dido Chart History ( Pop Songs) at Billboard; retrieved 2019
  20. ^ Official Singles Chart Top 100 at Official Charts; retrieved 2019
  21. ^ The Billboard Britlist. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. March 23, 2002. pp. 46–. ISSN 0006-2510.
  22. ^ The 500 Greatest Songs Since You Were Born at Blender; published April 1, 2009; retrieved 2019
  23. ^ Dido Life For Rent Review at BBC Music; published 2003; retrieved 2019
  24. ^ Rick Nowels, Lana Del Rey Co-Writer, Talks 'Summertime Sadness' And His Catalog Of Hits at Billboard; by Grant Trust; published August 27, 2013; retrieved 2019
  25. ^ Album review: Lana Del Rey's 'Born to Die' at The L.A. Times Music Blog; by Randall Roberts; published January 27, 2012; retrieved 2019
  26. ^ Lana Del Rey - 'Born To Die' Beyond the hype, a stunning debut at NME; published February 3, 2012; retrieved 2019
  27. ^ Lana Del Rey Born To Die Review at BBC Music; by Jamie Gill; published 2012; retrieved 2019
  28. ^ Lana Del Rey's 'Born to Die' Becomes One of Only Three Albums by Women With 300 Weeks on Billboard 200 Chart at Billboard; by Keith Caulfield; published January 12, 2019; retrieved 2019
  29. ^ Lana Del Rey Debuts at #10 on Billboard 200 With 'Paradise' EP (Interscope/Polydor) at PR Newswire; published November 21, 2012; retrieved 2019
  30. ^ Lana Del Rey's Paradise Edition of Debut Features Eight New Songs at MTV News; by Gil Kaufman; published September 25, 2012; retrieved 2019
  32. ^ Lana Del Rey cuts video for 'Gatsby's' single 'Young and Beautiful' at Los Angeles Times; published 2013; retrieved 2019
  33. ^ Lana Del Rey Is Already Recording Her New Album at Fuse; by Jeff Benjamin; published December 3, 2014; retrieved 2019
  34. ^ Lana Del Rey announces new album Honeymoon at Consequence of Sound; by Alex Young; published January 6, 2015; retrieved 2019
  35. ^ Hear Lana Del Rey's Synth-Driven New Song, ‘High By the Beach’ at Rolling Stone; by Ryan Reed; published August 10, 2015; retrieved 2019
  36. ^ Lana Del Rey Talks ‘Lust For Life’ In ‘Dazed’ Cover Story: 7 Gorgeous Pics at Idolator/Dazed Magazine; by Mike Wass; published April 18, 2017; retrieved 2019
  37. ^ Review: Lana Del Rey, Lust for Life at Slant Magazine; by Sam C. Mac; published July 23, 2017; retrieved 2019
  38. ^ Who's Nominated For Best Pop Vocal Album? | 60th GRAMMY Awards at GRAMMYs; retrieved 2019
  39. ^ "Maria Vidal Songs ••• Top Songs / Chart Singles Discography ••• Music VF, US & UK hits charts". www.musicvf.com. Retrieved November 22, 2019.
  40. ^ "Rick Nowels at GRAMMY Awards". The Recording Academy. January 26, 2014. Archived from the original on August 1, 2020. Retrieved January 26, 2014.

External links[edit]