He’s not exactly a household name, but those in the know appreciate that his best work embodies the romantic allure of the Californian pop singer-songwriter. Stephen Bishop, or “Bish” as he’s affectionately known, was born on 14 November 1951.
Bishop is remembered and admired for wonderfully melodic singles of the late 1970s such as ‘On and On,’ ‘Save It For A Rainy Day’ and ‘Little Italy,’ the latter featuring guest vocals by Chaka Khan. Although it’s a long time since we’ve seen his name on the bestsellers, he’s continued to record, and has been an in-demand film music composer. His last album Blueprint came out in 2016.
But Bishop, whose easy, melodic style often fits what is now described as “yacht rock,” has also been repeatedly covered by admiring fellow musicians, including Art Garfunkel, who has done at least seven of his songs; by Barbra Streisand, Steve Perry and Eric Clapton, who cut ‘Holy Mother’ for his 1986 album August. In his self-titled 2007 autobiography, Clapton says that he and Bishop were close friends in the 1970s and reconnected in the 2000s, and describes him as “one of the great singer-songwriters.”
Born in San Diego, Bishop burst onto the scene after signing to the ABC label, with the outstanding album Careless, released late in 1976. It hit the American chart early in the new year, and climbed to No. 34, its impressive 32-week run fuelled by the success of ‘Save It For A Rainy Day,’ a No. 22 single on the Hot 100, and ‘On and On,’ which reached No. 11. It also charted in Australia and, like many of Stephen’s singles, had airplay in the UK, but unjustly without any chart reward.
1978 brought the Bish album, which also made the top 40 in the US, at No. 35. Although it had a much shorter chart run, that set, which included such gems as ‘Looking For The Right One,’ ‘Bish’s Hideaway’ and ‘Only The Heart Within You,’ was certified gold towards the end of that year.
A move to Warner Brothers led to the 1980 album Red Cab To Manhattan, and in 1983, Bish had one of his most notable movie soundtrack successes with the ballad ‘It Might Be You,’ a US top 30 single from the hit film Tootsie, starring Dustin Hoffman. Another of his best-known songs, nominated for an Oscar, was ‘Careless Lives,’ a big hit for Phil Collins and Marilyn Martin from the film White Nights.
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