The Songwriters Hall of Fame has honored the likes of Garth Brooks, Leon Russell and Allen Toussaint at its annual gala in New York City.
Amid the famous faces, some of Thursday night’s inductees weren’t so familiar — that is, until you heard the songs they penned.
Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly might be able to walk the streets in anonymity, but they’ve written some famously catchy hits, including Madonna’s “Like a Virgin,” Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors,” Whitney Houston’s “So Emotional,” and The Pretenders “I’ll Stand By You.”
“It was pretty risque at the time,” Kelly said of the Madonna song. “It took us about a month to finally, accidentally fall into what it ended up.”
John Bettis, who wrote Madonna’s hit, “Crazy For You,” along with hit songs for the Carpenters, Diana Ross, and The Pointer Sisters, was another inductee. He wrote “Human Nature” for Michael Jackson, which Skylar Grey performed at the event.
Bill Medley, of The Righteous Brothers fame, was there to present Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil with the Johnny Mercer Award. The married duo wrote the mega-hit, “You Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’.”
“We were just lucky that they wrote that song for us,” Medley said.
The song has had more than 14 million airplays, and still going strong.
As for the show, artists joined inductees on stage. Key performances included Dwight Yoakam performing “Superstar” with Russell; Boz Scaggs and Toussaint doing “What Do you Want the Girl to Do”; and Trisha Yearwood doing a Hal David Medley.
Chaka Khan sang Ashford and Simpson’s “I’m Every Woman,” and rapper Drake performed his hit, “Best I Ever Had.”
Billy Joel inducted Brooks, and later performed a duet of Brooks 1991 hit, “Shameless,” which was writtenby Joel. Brooks was ecstatic.
“You talk about songwriters, there’s one of the greatest songwriters of all time,” Brooks said of Joel. And he’s taken a day out of his life to do this, I feel very lucky.”
Joel loves the idea of other artist recording his material, but claims he never intended to be a rock star.
“I don’t even like my own voice, I don’t. I don’t think I’m a good singer. I think I’m a good songwriter,” Joel said.