Last year Steve Dorff was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and this year he’s looking to make the most of it.
The writer of pop and country hits that have been recorded by over 400 artists, Dorff showcased a program last week at the annual Association of Performing Arts Professionals gathering at the New York Hilton Midtown. The show, I Wrote That One, Too…A Life in Songwriting from Willie to Whitney, is titled after his memoir published last year, and he hopes to perform it extensively.
“My good friend Paul Williams said to me at the Songwriters Hall of Fame induction, ‘Steve. Get out there and become the face of your songs!’” said Dorff. “I always say I’m like Oz behind the curtain—an anonymous guy who’s written the soundtrack of people’s lives, and nobody knows who I am!”
In fact, Dorff has been “a studio rat my entire career,” albeit one who has written, arranged and produced “the greatest singers of any generation,” he said, naming a choice few in Willie Nelson, Whitney Houston, Barbra Streisand, Celine Dion, George Strait, Cher, Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers.
But Dorff has also penned TV themes and movie scores, credits here including Growing Pains, Murder She Wrote, Pure Country and Rocky IV.
“It’s phenomenal!” Dorff marveled. “Who gets to do that?”
And now, thanks to encouragement from family and friends, he’s starting to showcase his phenomenal career with songs-and-stories performances.
“I really enjoy doing it—and hope I get to do more of it,” he said. “I get recognition from people who now realize I’m not doing a Kenny Rogers song, but a Steve Dorff song that Kenny Rogers made famous.”
“Through the Years,” which Dorff co-wrote with Marty Panzer, was a No. 1 adult contemporary hit for Rogers in 1982, when it also reached No. 5 on the Hot Country Songs chart and No. 13 on the Billboard Top 100.
Meanwhile, Dorff, who co-wrote the titletrack single “Higher Ground” from Barbra Streisand’s 1997 album, co-wrote “Love’s Never Wrong” from her latest album Walls. Released last month on Carpenters with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra was The Carpenters‘ 1979 chart-topper “I Just Fall in Love Again,” which Dorff co-wrote with Larry Herbstritt.
“Blake Shelton just cut ‘Every Which Way But Loose’ [originally Eddie Rabbitt’s titletrack hit from the 1978 Clint Eastwood movie],” reported Dorff. “He didn’t know that Eddie didn’t write it and Steve Dorff did!”
“It’s like I’m revisiting everything I did 40 years ago!” concluded Dorff. But he has also recorded an audiobook version of I Wrote That One, Too…A Life in Songwriting from Willie to Whitney, due for release shortly.