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“If It’s Not Personal, It’s Not Art”
The Oakland-born Bill Champlin’s High school band The Opposite Six became Sons of Champlin in the mid ’60s and if you’re familiar with rock and roll history, being in a band in the bay are in the mid ’60s—well, that was pretty much the sweet spot. Sons of Champlin shared bills with the Grateful Dead, The Band, Jefferson Airplane and Country Joe and the Fish. A gifted pianist, vocalist, guitarist and songwriter, it didn’t take long for everyone to want the services of Bill Champlin, After a handful of excellent albums with Sons of Champlin, Bill left the band and from there his list of musical accomplishments is so extensive if they were listed on LinkedIn, LinkedIn would break. I can’t list them all here, so let me give you a partial list: Champlin has worked with REO SPEEDWAGON, DAVID FOSTER, BARRY MANILOW, ELTON JOHN, AMY GRANT, PATTI LABELLE, THE TUBES and BOZ SCAGGS. He won a couple of Grammys—one for co-writing “After The Love Has Gone” which was made massive by Earth Wind And Fire, and another for co-writing “Turn Your Love Around,” which George Benson made an eternal classic. That would be enough for anyone, but Champlin just kept going. He joined Chicago in ’82 and with that band Champlin co-wrote and sang on tracks like ‘Hard Habit To Break’ and ‘Look Away.” Champlin has appeared on hundreds of songs that are still blasted across the airwaves every single day. Put it this way, whenever you walk into Whole Foods and music is playing? Chances are, Bill Champlin is on that song. Champlin has put out 10 solo albums and his new one Livin’ For Love is out at the end of this month. It’s his first album in 10 years and Champlin describes it as the best record he’s ever made. Hard to argue with that. It’s a stunner—featuring incredible arrangements, stirring vocals and poignant and powerful songwriting, Bill Champlin has never sounded better. In this conversation, Champlin talks to Alex about Donna Summer, Fall Out Boy and how art should be personal. He also talks about his friendships with folks like David Foster and Peter Cetera, his take on CCR and his love of stacking guitars in the studio.