Albert Hammond was born on May 18, 1944, in London and grew up in Gibraltar to Gibraltarian parents. In 1960, Albert left school, formed a band and began sending out recordings of his very first compositions to labels in England, where they were released by Parlophone Records. Soon thereafter, Albert met Mike Hazlewood and almost immediately, they teamed up as collaborators and began gaining recognition as a songwriting team: “Little Arrows” (Leapy Lee in 1968 - Top Ten country and pop charts), “Make Me An Island” (a number one hit in fourteen countries), “Gimme Dat Ding” (The Pipkins in 1970 - pop and R&B charts), “Freedom Come, Freedom Go” (The Fortunes in 1971), “Good Morning Freedom” (Blue Mink, 1970). “Gimme Dat Ding” was written for a children’s television program called “Oliver in The Overworld” which starred Freddie and the Dreamers.
Having become one of Britain’s most successful songwriting teams, Albert and Mike decided to move to southern California. Albert played his songs to every record company possible, until Hal Landers and Bobby Roberts gave him the first artist’s contract ever for their newly-built Mums label, a division of CBS’s Epic label. After auditioning for CBS president Clive Davis, and over 30 other people, Albert was asked to record some songs. Albert went into the studio to record what would become the It Never Rains in Southern California album. The title song went to number five in the U.S. and became a worldwide success. This offered Albert the opportunity to tour, which led him to almost all continents. Albert went on to record seven English-language albums for the CBS label.
Artists who covered Albert’s tunes during the 1970s included Johnny Cash, Elton John, Mama Cass, The Association, Steppenwolf, Sonny & Cher, Johnny Mathis, Olivia Newton-John, Petula Clark, Jose Feliciano, Perry Como, Tom Jones, Engelbert Humperdinck, Helen Reddy, Glen Campbell, Oak Ridge Boys and many others. The Carpenters had a hit with “I Need to Be in Love”, which Albert wrote with John Bettis and Richard Carpenter. Later Albert began collaborating with new co-writing partners such as Hal David, Carole Bayer Sager, Will Jennings (among others), and more albums for CBS followed.
Next, he was asked by Epic Spain to make a recording for the Latin market. Being bilingual, Albert began another important aspect of his career, recording and writing several Spanish-language albums which were very successful in South America, Spain and many other places.
Afterwards, since he wanted to spend more time with his wife Claudia, his newly-born son, Albert Jr., and his two daughters Debbie and Paula (which he couldn’t do previously due to extensive touring), Albert decided he would not record or tour anymore and instead he would shift his focus to writing and producing for other acts.
Latin superstar Julio Iglesias, an old friend of Albert’s, asked him to produce his first English-language album. Julio recorded several Hammond compositions including “Moonlight Lady,” “The Air That I Breathe” (a duet with American icons The Beach Boys), and what would become Iglesias’ signature tune, “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before,” a duet with country legend Willie Nelson. The song was also nominated for a CMA Award and a Grammy Award.
In 1984, Albert wrote and produced a Spanish album for Lani Hall, which won a Grammy for Best Latin Album. Albert also produced another hugely successful project with the recording of “Cantare, Cantaras,” which, like “USA for Africa” and “Band Aid,” was a charity single but for the Spanish market. More than 50 stars contributed vocals to the recording including Gloria Estefan, Sergio Mendes, Placido Domingo, Menudo, Celia Cruz, Irene Cara, Julio Iglesias, Jose Feliciano, Vicente Fernandez, and Ricardo Montalban. The single topped the charts in several Latin countries.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Albert wrote several other highly successful songs including “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” (Starship - nominated for an Oscar, Golden Globe and Grammy), “I Don’t Wanna Live Without Your Love” (Chicago), “Through The Storm” (Aretha Franklin & Elton John), “Don’t Turn Around” (Aswad, Neil Diamond, and Ace of Base who had a Top Three worldwide hit), “Give A Little Love” (Ziggy Marley & The Melodymakers), “It Isn’t, It Wasn’t, It Ain’t Ever Gonna Be” (Whitney Houston & Aretha Franklin), “Don’t You Love Me Anymore” (Joe Cocker), and many of these were written with frequent collaborator Diane Warren. In 1988, Albert, along with John Bettis, had the chance to write the theme song for the Olympic Games in Seoul, Korea, “One Moment in Time,” which went straight to the top of the charts worldwide by Whitney Houston, and it also won Albert his first Emmy Award.) Other artists in this period to record Hammond’s songs include: Tina Turner (“I Don’t Wanna Lose You”, “The Way of the World”, which Albert produced), Diana Ross (“When You Tell Me That You Love Me”), Rod Stewart, Barry Manilow, Dolly Parton, Celine Dion, Elton John, Dionne Warwick, Air Supply, Bonnie Tyler, Roy Orbison (“Careless Heart” - written with Roy along with Diane Warren), Hank Williams, Jr., Agnetha Faltskog (of ABBA), Phil Everly, Bill Medley, and k.d. lang.
The last decade has brought another round of great artists to record Hammond compositions: Josh Groban, Westlife, Michael Ball, Spanish singer Jose Carreras, Cliff Richard, Nancy Sinatra, Tina Turner, and many others. In 2005, Hammond recorded his latest solo album, Revolution of the Heart, an acoustic recording which earned great critical reviews.
As is obvious from the list above, Albert’s songs are timeless classics and several have been hits more than once: “The Air That I Breathe” (The Hollies, Simply Red), “Don’t Turn Around” (ASWAD, Ace of Base), and “When You Tell Me That You Love Me” (Diana Ross, and then ten years later as a duet by Westlife and Diana Ross.)
Albert’s achievements were officially rewarded in 2000, when he received the OBE (Order of the British Empire) from Queen Elizabeth II in London. In 2008, Albert was inducted into the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame. His home country of Gibraltar will soon be honoring him with a commemorative postage stamp series which will feature his image and highlight his biggest international hits.
One need only listen to his work from the past forty years to see the mark he has left on popular music - a vast array of modern-day standards that are known the world over and have so deeply touched the lives of us all.