Reaching the top tier in the highly competitive world of contemporary music is a tough task. Staying there is almost impossible. Yet that’s exactly what Albert Hammond has done for almost six decades as songwriter, record producer and singer.
And now, highlighting many of his best-selling hits, the London-born talent has taken his musical life story on the road with a major tour.
This weekend, the Millennium Forum in Derry, northern Ireland, became the latest venue, with an audience’s appreciation so warm and welcoming that the artist was moved to say that even his 95-year-old mother of Irish descent would be proud.
The evening with Hammond was not just a nostalgic musical delight that sailed through the decades from his first hit, ’Little Arrows’ back in 1968 when he was just 24 for Leapy Lee, but a show peppered with colorful anecdotes from the highest echelons of music featuring household names. Such stories included his being in the studio with Joe Cocker recording ‘Don’t You Love Me Anymore’ when, after just the first line, the singer suddenly stopped and told Hammond, ‘I’m hungry, be back in a minute.’ But then didn’t return until the next day. Or how the ‘Playboy’ and the ‘Cowboy’ – Julio Iglesias and Willie Nelson – were twinned for the 1984 hit ‘To All The Girls I’ve Loved Before.’
Such has been Hammond’s enduring success his songs have been hits in genres ranging from pop and country to R&B and Latin and recorded by a wide variety of top performers including Elton John, Tina Turner, Whitney Houston, Niall Dimond, Johnny Cash and The Carpenters.
He has also co- written with leading talents in the business such as Diane Warren, Hal David, Mike Hazlewood and John Bettis. The result: worldwide record sales have soared over 300 million.
Dressed casually in red leather jacket, skinny jeans and sneakers, Hammond and his four-piece backing band effortlessly glided through a comprehensive song list for two non-stop hours. The artist even stepped off-stage to mingle warmly with his audience, encouraging them to sing along on choruses of songs such as ‘It Never Rains in Southern California,’ ‘The Free Electric Band’ and ‘When I Need You.’
Rousing cheers greeted his version of ‘One Moment in Time,’ the well-known theme song for the 1988 Olympics in South Korea performed by Whitney Houston, ‘Don’t Turn Around,’ a multi-hit by different artists and ‘The Air That I Breathe,’ made famous by British group, The Hollies. It was little surprise his audience gave the star several standing ovations.
Hammond’s latest tribute was the Ivor Novello Award this year for ‘Outstanding Song Collection,’ an accolade created by BASCA (British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors) to celebrate, honor and reward excellence in British and Irish songwriting and composing.
It takes only one enjoyable musical evening with the performer to understand why.