Many songwriters specialize in one musical genre, such as roots, R&B, or country. And then there are those highly versatile songwriters who are able to turn their hand to just about any style you care to name. Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee Jim Vallance is one of the latter group of top talents, churning out dozens of hit songs in styles from heavy metal to classic rock, from adult contemporary to country.
Fans of Vallance’s music already know that for many decades he was Bryan Adams’s songwriting partner, the two of them together writing over 100 classic rock songs, including many of the most memorable hits of the 1980s and 1990s, such as Cuts Like a Knife, Heaven, and Run To You. So far, so good.
But Vallance’s song catalogue doesn’t stop with Adams’s recordings. Far from it. A genuine hit-maker, Vallance has written or co-written hits for other musical icons including Alice Cooper, Aerosmith, Joe Cocker, and Anne Murray – and chances are that fans of these artists have no idea who created these favourite tunes.
Here is just a handful of the best songs that you didn’t know were written by Jim Vallance:
Glass Tiger’s Don’t Forget Me When I’m Gone – now a favourite of classic rock radio – topped the charts at No. 1 in Canada and No. 2 in the U.S. in 1986 and won the JUNO award for single of the year. Written by Vallance with band members Alan Frew and Sam Reid, Don’t Forget Me went on to earn a SOCAN award for over 100,000 airplays. Vallance remembered the song’s genesis: “During a quick tour of my studio, Sam [Reid] casually noodled a few notes on one of my keyboards, and the next thing you know we were writing a song! In less than an hour we came up with the beginnings of a very strong idea.” Vallance also wrote (with Frew and Connelly) Glass Tiger’s hit Someday and several of their other pieces.
Two famous Bonnies – Tyler and Raitt – have recorded the adult contemporary No Way to Treat a Lady, written by Vallance and Adams. Tyler told “Tracks” magazine about recording this song for her “Secret Dreams and Forbidden Fire” gold album: “The first track that I recorded was No Way To Treat A Lady…. [Adams] gave this one to me and came along to the studio to have a listen and told me he loved the way we’d done it.”
And then there’s Vallance’s work behind the scenes writing for legendary rockers Aerosmith. We bet you didn’t know that he wrote their No. 1 hit Other Side with Stephen Tyler at Vallance’s home studio in Vancouver. Other Aerosmith songs that you probably didn’t know were co-written by Vallance include Eat the Rich, Rag Doll, Don’t Stop, and Magic Touch.
The late, great British recording artist and Grammy winner Joe Cocker had huge successes recording songs written by others (remember CSHF inductee Buffy Sainte-Marie’s Up Where We Belong?). Cocker continued this streak when he recorded the powerful, emotion-laden Vallance-Adams ballad Edge of a Dream, a hit on both the Adult Contemporary and Hot 100 charts. Cocker’s recording of another noteworthy Vallance song, When the Night Comes (written with Adams and US songwriter Diane Warren), deservedly rose to No. 6 on Billboard’s Album Rock Tracks chart and to No. 11 on the Hot 100.
And did you know that Vallance wrote another favourite 1986 ballad, Now and Forever, made famous by Nova Scotia songbird Anne Murray? Co-written by David Foster and US songwriter Randy Goodrum, this Vallance song topped Billboard’s Country chart, and was the Canadian Country Music Association’s Song of the Year.
We bet you also didn’t know that Vallance was behind the hit What About Love, recorded by the US band Heart and recently inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame. Vallance wrote this one with the band Toronto.
The list of songs you didn’t know were written by Jim Vallance goes on – Alice Cooper’s Die For You (written by Vallance, Cooper, Nikki Sixx, Mick Mars); BTO’s Jamaica; Lee Aaron’s Dangerous (Vallance, Aaron, John Albani); Roger Daltry’s Let Me Down Easy; and Rod Stewart’s Another Heartache (Vallance, Adams, Stewart, Randy Wayne); to name just a few.
So the next time you come across any of these songs, remind yourself who wrote them: Jim Vallance, the exceptional Vancouver songwriter whose dazzling, inexhaustible craft shaped the popular music of the 1980s and 1990s.