DESMOND CHILD - "KISS' 'I Was Made For Loving You' Is One Of The Biggest-Selling Songs I’ve Ever Had. I Realized I Could Collaborate With People And Help Them To Become Bigger Stars"
October 30, 2023, a month ago
Desmond Child, the songwriter and producer behind dozens of Billboard hits including Bon Jovi's "Livin' On A Prayer", Joan Jett's "I Hate Myself For Loving You", Aerosmith's "Dude Looks Like A Lady", and Alice Cooper's "Poison", released his first memoir, Livin’ On a Prayer: Big Songs Big Life, back in September in North America via Radius Book Group. The memoir, which includes a foreword by KISS singer/guitarist Paul Stanley, will be released in the UK on November 2, published by Radius.
Child spoke with The Guardian about the memoir, and an excerpt from the feature follows...
In 1975, after changing his name, he formed Desmond Child & Rouge with fellow Latino singers Maria Vidal (an early girlfriend, before he accepted his sexuality), Myriam Valle and Diana Grasselli, appearing on Saturday Night Live and achieving moderate success for their funky, sophisticated pop. However, destiny called after a gig in Trax, a club in New York’s Greenwich Village.
“George Harrison was in the audience,” says Child, “and Paul Stanley popped backstage.” Stanley is the singer of tongue-lolling glam legends KISS. “Nobody knew what KISS looked like then without the makeup, but he wanted to make friends and said, ‘Why don’t we try writing a song together?’ Lightning struck. 'I Was Made for Loving You' is one of the biggest-selling songs I’ve ever had. I realized I could collaborate with people and help them to become bigger stars.”
Bon Jovi were a KISS support act much in need of a hit. So Child combined "If You Were a Woman (And I Was a Man)" – which he’d written for Bonnie Tyler – with a Jon Bon Jovi song called "Shot Through the Heart", creating "You Give Love a Bad Name". “I saw Jon’s billion-dollar smile and we never looked back.”
They wrote "Livin’ on a Prayer' on a Formica table in a dingy basement. “They wanted a working-class anthem,” says Child, revealing that, unusually, he drew on his own life, specifically that early girlfriend. “The Gina character [“Gina works the diner all day”] is Maria Vidal, whose waitressing name was Gina Velvet. Tommy [“Tommy’s got his six string in hock”] is me. It was originally Gina and Johnny, but Jon said, ‘I can’t sing Johnny, that’s my name.’” So Johnny became Tommy, the struggling couple were “halfway there, livin’ on a prayer” and the rest is history.
Read more at The Guardian.
Book description: Desmond Child is the ultimate hitmaker, contributing to some of the biggest smash global hits that helped ignite the success of music icons KISS, Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, Alice Cooper, Ricky Martin, Katy Perry, and countless others. In Livin’ On A Prayer, he reveals how he climbed his way to the top and beyond amid extraordinary circumstances and shares his very personal and unbelievable journey that shaped him into an artist of international renown.
For over half a century, Desmond Child has collaborated with the world’s most celebrated artists creating timeless hits, such as Bon Jovi’s “Livin' On A Prayer” and “You Give Love A Bad Name” as well as Ricky Martin’s “Livin’ La Vida Loca” and “The Cup Of Life” amongst his vast catalog. But in Livin’ On A Prayer, Desmond himself takes center stage to share his transformational story from misfit outsider to cultural pacesetter.
In collaboration with legendary music biographer David Ritz, Child recounts his unconventional upbringing as his colorful family fled Cuba in the 1960s and fell into poverty. He details his shocking discovery at age 18 that the man he called “dad” was not his biological father after all, and he courageously bares his soul about navigating the trials of being a Latino gay man in the macho world of rock and roll. His is a story of willing himself to succeed and overcome impossible odds to establish himself as one of the most influential composers and lyricists of all time.