Bruce Johnston Biography

27 June 1942, Los Angeles, California, USA. An early associate of Sandy Nelson and Phil Spector, whom he often supported on keyboards, Johnston enjoyed a spell backing Richie Valens before recording ‘Take This Pearl’ as half of Bruce And Jerry. He then wrote and played piano on several records by singer Ron Holden, before embracing the surfing craze in 1962 with ‘Do The Surfer Stomp’. The following year he began a fruitful partnership with songwriter/producer Terry Melcher which not only engendered the excellent Surfin’ ’Round The World, but a series of well-crafted studio projects. The duo took control of releases by the Rip Chords, notably ‘Three Window Coupe’, and the Rogues, as well as completing several singles as Bruce And Terry. In April 1965 Johnston joined the Beach Boys as an on-tour replacement for Brian Wilson. He made his recording debut with the group on ‘California Girls’, but the artist’s songwriting skills did not flourish until 1969 when ‘The Nearest Faraway Place’ surfaced on 20/20. Johnston’s melodramatic approach prevailed on ‘Deidre’ and ‘Tears In The Morning’ (Sunflower), but ‘Disney Girls (1957)’ (Surf’s Up) captured the balance between evocation and sentimentality.

In addition to his duties with the Beach Boys, Johnston guested on albums by numerous acts, including Sagittarius, (American) Spring and Roger McGuinn. He officially left the Beach Boys in 1972, although his services were still called upon during recording sessions. Johnston then joined former partner Melcher in Equinox Productions, and worked with such disparate acts as Jack Jones, the Hudson Brothers and Sailor. However, this period is best recalled for ‘I Write The Songs’, his multi-million selling composition, first recorded by the Captain And Tennille, which was a hit for both David Cassidy and, especially, Barry Manilow. Having completed the largely disappointing Goin’ Public, Johnston returned to the Beach Boys camp in 1978 to produce their LA (Light Album). He subsequently remained an integral part of the line-up and is often credited as mediator during recurrent internal strife. Following the tragic death of Carl Wilson, the factions split yet again, with Johnston opting to go with Mike Love and his version of the Beach Boys, as opposed to the Al Jardine version. Johnston underwent heart surgery in September 2004.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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