On 21st May 2015 Albert Hammond collected the Ivor Novello Award for Outstanding Song Collection.
To pen a single outstanding song is an achievement in and of itself, but to pen a body of enduring and exceptional songs is something extraordinary. This Ivor Novello Award acknowledges outstanding talent, and the body of work that extraordinary talent has produced.
Originally commissioned to appear in the award ceremony programme, music journalist Mark Sutherland, profiles Albert’s songwriting career:
One of his most celebrated songs famously asked for “one moment in time”, but in fact Albert Hammond has provided dozens of such moments over a career that has produced hits across the last six decades.
And what moments they have been. Since writing his first chart smash – Little Arrows, a Number Two for Leapy Lee in 1968 – Hammond has enjoyed success as a recording artist and a producer while, as a songwriter, the hits have just kept coming.
And it’s the sheer range of his work that sets Hammond apart. He has scored hits on pop, country, R&B and Latin charts. His songs have been recorded by everyone from Elton John to Tina Turner, Julio Iglesias to Johnny Cash, Whitney Houston to The Carpenters. He has co-written with talents as diverse as Diane Warren and Hal David, Mike Hazlewood and John Bettis. And his songs have driven worldwide record sales of over 300 million.
His work will need no introduction to The Ivors audience, but even a casual music fan would be familiar with this most outstanding of song collections. From his own hits such as It Never Rains In Southern California and The Free Electric Band to enduring favourites such as The Air That I Breathe (Number Two for The Hollies in 1974) and When I Need You (Number One for Leo Sayer in 1977), Hammond pretty much owned the 1970s. But while some songwriters dip in and out of fashion, Hammond’s ageless craft has always managed to move with the times and changing tastes.
So he and Warren co-wrote 1987’s rock powerhouse Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now for Starship, nominated for an Oscar. He and Bettis penned the pop-soul belter and 1988 Olympic theme One Moment In Time for Whitney Houston and won an Emmy. And he and David came up with 1984’s To All The Girls I’ve Loved Before for Julio Iglesias and Willie Nelson, crossing Latin and Country genre boundaries. In the Nineties, he wrote for Diana Ross; in the Noughties, he worked with Duffy. One of his finest songs, Don’t Turn Around, was recorded by artists as varied as Tina Turner, Aswad and Ace Of Bass.
In recent years, he has reclaimed such gems for himself, re-recording some of his best-known songs for his Legend albums (where he also sang a duet with his son, Albert Hammond Jr of The Strokes) and taking the catalogue back on the road. But really, his is a legacy that will endure through the ages, not so much moments in time as timeless moments.
Mark Sutherland (c) 2015