Tom Whitlock

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Thomas Ross "Tom" Whitlock (born 1954) is an American songwriter and lyricist best known for his Academy Award and Golden Globe winning song "Take My Breath Away" from the film Top Gun, which he co-wrote with Giorgio Moroder.[1]

Early life[edit]

Whitlock was born and raised in Springfield, Missouri. Many famous musicians visited the city as it hosted television show Ozark Jubilee, influencing Whitlock to learn the drums at the age of 11. Soon, he was a session musician working with famed composers Si Siman and Wayne Carson, as well as a drummer for live bands. At the age of 15, Whitlock begun writing songs at the piano.[2]

During his high school years in Glendale, he divided his time between studying during the day and playing drums with his rock band No Slack on the weekends throughout the Midwest. He entered Drury University in 1971 to major in music, and his busy lifestyle made him extend his degree up until 1981. With only two piano proficiency exams remaining to graduate, Whitlock felt he could not do it and decided to drop out. His degree was eventually awarded in 2012, as the chair of Drury’s music department decided to contact Whitlock and waive the uncompleted piano proficiency requirement. Before that, the university had awarded him as Distinguished Alumni in 1998, and got him an honorary doctorate in music the following year.[3] In 1977, he was signed to his first recording contract with Mercury Records.

Musical career[edit]

In 1983, Whitlock travelled to Los Angeles hoping to start a band there, plans aborted due to costs. While helping his friend Dave Concors at the now defunct studio Davlen Sound Studios, Whitlock met famed composer Giorgio Moroder as he complained about brake defects in his Ferrari. Whitlock purchased a can of brake fluid and picked up his toolbox to fix Moroder's car, and Moroder eventually hired Whitlock for minor work at his studio. In the meantime, he studied recording with Moroder's engineer Brian Reeves, given the studio was busy with films such as Scarface, Flashdance and Beverly Hills Cop, and wrote his own songs.[2]

Prior to the production of the Top Gun soundtrack, Moroder found his songwriting partners Keith Forsey and Pete Bellotte unavailable, and knowing Whitlock was a lyricist invited him for the project.[2] Whitlock and Moroder co-wrote five songs, including "Take My Breath Away" and the Kenny Loggins hit "Danger Zone". ASCAP shows 113 songs registered, performed by artists such as Berlin, Bonnie Tyler, Jennifer Rush, Michael McDonald, Ray Charles, Graham Nash, Diana Ross, Teddy Pendergrass, Roger Daltrey and John Entwhistle.

Whitlock and Moroder had other collaborations, for the films Over the Top, American Anthem and Rambo III, and also co-wrote the official theme songs for both the 1988 Summer Olympics ("Hand In Hand") and the 1990 FIFA World Cup ("To Be Number One").

In 2012, the Library of Congress honored Whitlock for his songwriting contributions.[4] Whitlock is also drummer of the Missouri band, The Dog People, with Michael Granda (aka Supe Dujour), Jim Wunderle, and Terry Wilson.

Filmography of songs[edit]


External links[edit]