A Grammy-winning songwriter, guitarist, and producer, Gordon Kennedy is the man to see if you’re looking for a hit record. As he puts it, “In all honesty, I’m the kind of guy who waits for doors to swing pretty wide open before I step through them.” In the case of Mr. Kennedy, the doors have been swinging off their hinges.
Gordon probably got his musical multi-tasking talent from his father, Jerry Kennedy, an A&R man, producer, and Nashville ‘A Team’ session ace who played for Roy Orbison, Elvis Presley, Roger Miller, and Bob Dylan, among others. “As a kid, I was surrounded by my dad’s guitars and amps that were lying around in the basement and I would always be pressing my head up against the jukebox listening to music and dreaming about the day I might be able to do something like that as well,” Kennedy explains. “My dad gave me a Telecaster, which I’m sure was just to keep me away from his guitars, but that’s kind of where I got started,” he jokes. Ever since childhood, Kennedy has been faithfully following in his father’s footsteps.
Gordon has written music and lyrics, played, and produced music for a wealth of hit tunes. “Change the World,” a Billboard #1 hit for Eric Clapton and 3-time Grammy winner (including “Song of the Year”) was co-written by Kennedy with Wayne Kirkpatrick and Tommy Sims. Kennedy has also written songs for Garth Brooks, Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, Bonnie Raitt, and countless others. Most recently, Kennedy worked with guitar legend Peter Frampton to write, produce, and record songs from Frampton’s latest album, Fingerprints. Considered by some to be Frampton’s best material in years, the offering earned a Grammy for “Best Pop Instrumental album.”
“Sometimes when you write songs, the things that can happen are pretty amazing. They ask if you can come play on it, and then come sing on it, and then if you can do the tour, and then can you go do this TV taping, and ‘Oh I want you to co-produce this record with me.’ In the case of the Frampton record, he asked me early on while we were writing if I would co-produce with him. So, obviously that is a door being swung wide open.”
Kennedy credits a significant part of his success to the VOX AC30. “My introduction to the AC30 was through a Beatles record where they used it. Then it wouldn’t be until around 1993 or so that I would actually get a chance to play an old AC30 and just fell head over heels in love,” he explains. That AC30 can be heard on Garth Brooks’ “Maybe” from the Life of Chris Gaines album. “I really love that glassy top end. If you plug an old Strat® into a VOX AC30 and decide to use that out-of-phase sound in between the bridge and the middle pickup, there is no other amp on earth that sounds like that. It has that shine that really shows up in the right place in the mix of whatever song you’re using it on.” In fact, Gordon loves the sound of the AC30 so much, that he decided to wallpaper his studio with vintage AC30 grill cloth. Talk about a wall of sound!
Reflecting back on his accomplishments, Kennedy is simply thankful. Few get to ever meet their idols, let alone be a part of their success. “When I”m standing on stage and I hit the downbeat of ‘Do You Feel Like We Do’ with Peter Frampton standing there right beside me, that’s when I start wondering how this all happened,” he laughs.
“I grew up looking back at what my dad had done thinking, ‘Gosh, I’ll never get to do anything like that,’ and then one day I looked back over my shoulder, and couldn’t believe that I’d been allowed to be a part of so many great things,” says Kennedy. “The way I described it to Peter, is that after all of this, one day the autopsy report on me is going to simply read, ‘pinch marks.’”
For more information regarding Gordon Kennedy’s projects and achievements, visit his page at http://members.aol.com/guitarron/gkennedy/gkennedy.htm
By Tim Segado and JC Costa