Eddie Rabbitt Biography

Edward Thomas Rabbitt, 27 November 1941, Brooklyn, New York City, USA, d. 7 May 1998, Nashville, Tennessee, USA. Rabbitt, whose name is Gaelic, was raised in East Orange, New Jersey. His father, Thomas Rabbitt, a refrigeration engineer, played fiddle and accordion and is featured alongside his son on the 1978 track ‘Song Of Ireland’. On a scouting holiday, Rabbitt was introduced to country music and he soon became immersed in the history of its performers. Rabbitt’s first single was ‘Six Nights And Seven Days’ on 20th Century Fox in 1964, and he had further singles for Columbia Records, ‘Bottles’ and ‘I Just Don’t Care No More’. Rabbitt, who found he could make no headway singing country music in New York, decided to move to Nashville in 1968. Sitting in a bath in a cheap hotel, he had the idea for ‘Working My Way Up From The Bottom’, which was recorded by Roy Drusky. At first, he had difficulty in placing other songs, although George Morgan recorded ‘The Sounds Of Goodbye’ and Bobby Lewis ‘Love Me And Make It All Better’. He secured a recording contract and at the same time gave Lamar Fike a tape of songs for Elvis Presley. Presley chose the one he was planning to do himself, ‘Kentucky Rain’, and took it to number 16 in the US country charts and number 21 in the UK. Presley also recorded ‘Patch It Up’ and ‘Inherit The Wind’.

In 1974 Ronnie Milsap topped the US country charts with ‘Pure Love’, which Rabbitt had written for his future wife, Janine, the references in the song being to commercials for Ivory soap (‘99 44/100th per cent’) and ‘Cap’n Crunch’. Rabbitt also recorded ‘Sweet Janine’ on his first album. He had his first US country success as a performer with ‘You Get To Me’ in 1974, and, two years later, topped the US country charts with ‘Drinkin’ My Baby (Off My Mind)’, a good time drinking song he had written with Even Stevens. He also wrote with his producer, David Molloy. Rabbitt followed his success with the traditional-sounding ‘Rocky Mountain Music’ and two more drinking songs, ‘Two Dollars In The Jukebox (Five In A Bottle)’ and ‘Pour Me Another Tequila’, at which point Rabbitt was criticized by the Women’s Christian Temperance Union for damaging their cause. Further number 1s came with ‘I Just Want To Love You’, which he had written during the session, ‘Suspicions’ and the theme for the Clint Eastwood film Every Which Way But Loose, which also made number 41 in the UK. Rabbitt harmonized with himself on the 1980 country number 1 ‘Gone Too Far’.

Inspired by the rhythm of Bob Dylan’s ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’, he wrote ‘Drivin’ My Life Away’, a US Top 5 pop hit as well as a number 1 country hit, for the 1980 film Roadie. A fragment of a song he had written 12 years earlier gave him the concept for ‘I Love A Rainy Night’, which topped both the US pop and country charts. He had further number 1 country hits with ‘Step By Step’ (US pop 5) and the Eagles -styled ‘Someone Could Lose A Heart Tonight’ (US pop 15). He also had chart-topping country duets with Crystal Gayle (‘You And I’) and Juice Newton (‘Both To Each Other (Friends And Lovers)’), the latter being the theme for the television soap opera Days Of Our Lives. Rabbitt’s son Timmy was born with a rare disease in 1983 and Rabbitt cut back on his commitments until Timmy’s death in 1985. Another son, Tommy, was born in good health in 1986. Rabbitt topped the US country charts by reviving a pure rock ‘n’ roll song from his youth in New York, Dion’s ‘The Wanderer’. During his son’s illness, he had found songwriting difficult but wrote his 1988 US country number 1 ‘I Wanna Dance With You’. His ambition was to write ‘a classic, one of those songs that will support me for the rest of my life’. ‘American Boy’ gained him some latter-day fame with American troops during the Gulf war, and was also adopted by Republican candidate Bob Dole for his 1996 presidential campaign. Despite being diagnosed with cancer in March 1997 Rabbitt soldiered on with the aptly-titled Beatin’ The Odds, but lost his battle against the illness in May 1998.

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

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