Confidence, persistence, hard work: these qualities have driven Eddie Schwartz’s stellar career as a pop-rock songwriter and producer. And add versatility to that list, since Schwartz has also written hit songs for heavy metal, disco, blues, roots and R&B recording artists.
Born in Toronto in 1949, Edward Sydney Schwartz completed a degree in music and English literature at York University. He got his start in the Toronto band Icarus, along with Michael Cohl, Bob Ezrin and Ben Mink, now music industry legends in their own right; Schwartz also played guitar for R&B singer Charity Brown before launching his solo career.
In 1978 A&M released his first album, “Schwartz,” and the single Does a Fool Ever Learn. Schwartz had offered his then publisher – ATV, his new confidence-themed song, Hit Me With Your Best Shot, but ATV’s president and vice-president – in a colossal misjudgement – rejected the song as “the worst song they had ever heard.” But Schwartz, true to the lyrics’ message, rolled with the punches. His break came when rocker Pat Benatar overheard the song – and loved it. “Just getting it to that point was quite a struggle” said Schwartz.
Benatar’s passionate rendition of Hit Me With Your Best Shot drove the single to CHUM’s No. 5 spot in November 1980, and top 10 on the RPM, Cashbox and Billboard charts. The song’s immense success made Schwartz’s name in the industry, leading to invitations to produce and write for Joe Cocker, Carly Simon, Jeffrey Osborne, Gowan and many others; he explained, “It’s a bit like dominoes. One thing definitely does lead to the next.” That next thing was his 1981 Juno award for composer of the year, and a 1982 Juno for most promising male vocalist.
Hit Me With Your Best Shot has since been covered by Martina McBride, Big Daddy, the Glee Cast (a 2011 Billboard hit), Joe Piscopo, Girl Authority, The Chipmunks, by Catherine Zeta-Jones in the all-star film “Rock of Ages” and by Eddie Murphy in “Shrek Forever After.” Marie Osmond performed it on her TV show in 1980.
Meanwhile, Schwartz’s solo endeavours yielded the 1981 album “No Refuge” and the top 40 hits All Our Tomorrows (co-written with David Tyson) and Over the Line. His “Public Life” album followed in 1984, producing the yearning hit pop-rock ballad Special Girl (also with David Tyson); by January 1985 a cover by America went to No. 7.
Schwartz’s next hit was Don’t Shed a Tear (co-written with Rob Friedman), a No. 9 hit in 1987 for singer Paul Carrack, the song sharing Hit Me With Your Best Shot’s theme of toughness and defiance.
Don’t Shed a Tear then led, domino-like, to Schwartz writing and producing the top-ten hit The Doctor (with Tom Johnston and Charlie Midnight) for The Doobie Brothers, along with three other songs for their top-20 “Cycles” album, as well as the top 20 single from the next Carrack album, “I Live by the Groove”, co-written with the artist.
Some 200 of Schwartz’s songs have been covered by acts such as disco queen Donna Summer, Meatloaf, Mountain, country’s Rita Coolidge, metal band Helix, R&B’s Pointer Sisters, April Wine, blues giant Long John Baldry, Honeymoon Suite, Doug and the Slugs, Peter Pringle, Peter Frampton, Matt Minglewood, and the New Monkees. Joe Cocker’s “Unchain My Heart” album (top 100 in 1988) contained no less than three Schwartz songs, including All Our Tomorrows.
A 1995 solo album was Schwartz’s last as an artist. He then relocated to Nashville to write and produce for Rascal Flatts, Marc Jordan, Nick Gilder, Amy Sky, and others.
Schwartz’s many awards include BMI awards for Don’t Shed a Tear and The Doctor; SOCAN Classic awards for Special Girl, Hit Me With Your Best Shot, All Our Tomorrows and Don’t Shed a Tear; two SOCAN Pop-Rock awards; a Canadian Smooth Jazz Award; and Procan’s William Harold Moon award for international achievement. He has sold well over 65 million records and countless more millions of streams and downloads.
Schwartz, a member of the Order of Canada, advocates for music creators on the boards of songwriters’ organizations, is a past vice president of SOCAN, and is the first non-European president of the Paris based International Council of Music Creators (CIAM).
Schwartz sums up his decades long career this way, “Everything I’ve ever written that’s done well has been written from the heart.”