born in 1950 in Fresno, CA, United States
William Endfield "Billy" Steinberg (born February 26, 1950) is an American songwriter. He achieved success with songwriting partner Tom Kelly, including the No. 1 hits Like a Virgin by Madonna, True Colors by Cyndi Lauper, Eternal Flame by the Bangles, So Emotional by Whitney Houston, and Alone by Heart. He has also co-written several hit songs with Rick Nowels.
Steinberg grew up in Palm Springs, California and worked with his father's table grape operation. He attended Cate School in California, and Bard College in New York. In his mid-20s he formed the group Billy Thermal which was eventually signed to Richard Perry's Planet Records label.
Their breakthrough occurred in 1980 when Linda Ronstadt heard their album and decided to record their song "How Do I Make You?" for her 1980 Mad Love album. The album hit the top three of the charts and went platinum. Ronstadt's version of their song reached the American top ten.
In 1981, Steinberg wrote "Precious Time", the title track for Pat Benatar's Precious Time album; he also penned "I'm Gonna Follow You", which appeared on her second album Crimes of Passion the previous year. His band Billy Thermal included "I'm Gonna Follow You" as well as "How Do I Make You?" on their EP released by Planet Records in 1979. Also that year, Steinberg began writing with Tom Kelly, who had written another song ("Fire and Ice") on the album for Benatar.
Further success followed with the song "Like a Virgin", when it was played for Warner Bros. executives who thought it would be perfect for Madonna. Steinberg later recalled writing the lyric in 1983 following a failed relationship, stating that he had genuinely felt that he'd "made it through the wilderness" and that he was "beat, incomplete". Madonna's version of the song spent six weeks at number one in the United States in 1985, and became a worldwide hit. It was also the title track for her number one album.
The success of the partnership continued with more number one singles "True Colors" (recorded by Cyndi Lauper), "So Emotional" (by Whitney Houston), "Eternal Flame" (by The Bangles) and "Alone" (by Heart).
Their other hits include "In Your Room" (The Bangles), "Spirit of Love" (by Laura Branigan), "I Drove All Night" (recorded by Roy Orbison, Cyndi Lauper and Celine Dion), "I Touch Myself" (Divinyls), "Sex as a Weapon" (by Pat Benatar), and "Look Me in the Heart" (by Tina Turner). They also wrote several songs with Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders, including the top-ten single "I'll Stand By You". Artists such as REO Speedwagon, Cheap Trick, Bette Midler, and Belinda Carlisle have also recorded their songs.
In the mid 1990s Steinberg began writing with Rick Nowels, who had previously established himself as a songwriter for such artists as Stevie Nicks and Belinda Carlisle. Their greatest success of the period was the Céline Dion recording of "Falling Into You" for which they won Grammy Awards.
Steinberg continues to write songs. In 2005, he collaborated with producer Josh Alexander and Jessica and Lisa Origliasso of The Veronicas to write several tracks for The Veronicas' debut release, The Secret Life Of..., including the third single, "When It All Falls Apart". Steinberg and Alexander also wrote "All About Us", a hit for the Russian pop duo t.A.T.u.. Steinberg and Alexander's recent work includes JoJo's 2006 single "Too Little Too Late" and Leigh Nash's "Nervous in the Light of Dawn", "My Idea Of Heaven" and Katharine McPhee's "Over It" in 2007. In 2008 he wrote "Fly on the Wall" for t.A.T.u.'s 3rd international album Happy Smiles with Josh Alexander. He will write songs with Josh Alexander on JoJo's new album All I Want Is Everything. He worked with the American pop singer Ashley Tisdale in her album Guilty Pleasure; with Josh Alexander and Porcelain Black, he co-wrote the track "How Do You Love Someone?", which would later be featured on Black's debut album, Mannequin Factory. In 2010, he wrote a song with Josh Alexander titled, "What Happened to Us" for Australian singer, Jessica Mauboy for her album, Get 'Em Girls. In 2011, he still continued his work. He had co-written "Don't Hold Your Breath" for Nicole Scherzinger and "High Maintenance" by Miranda Cosgrove. He also wrote and produced the song "Give Your Heart a Break" with Josh Alexander by Demi Lovato.
Steinberg had a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars dedicated to him in 2008.
- Official website
- Audio interview with Billy Steinberg on the Sodajerker On Songwriting podcast
- Songfacts interview with Billy Steinberg
- Billy Steinberg at the Internet Movie Database