"Songs, and songwriting keeps me inspired, moving forward. I tend to scribble down notes, lyrics or just random thoughts on pieces of paper, backs of cigarette packs, sometimes on my shirt cuff. Rock n’ roll is closest thing I’ve got to a spiritual power. It’s been the higher voice in my life and it’s never let me down."
So says legendary singer-songwriter John Waite, whose career as a solo artist and fronting the iconic bands The Babys and Bad English has spanned nearly four decades. Waite recently released a new career retrospective, BEST. The album features 18 handpicked songs that reflect a remarkable body of work, including eleven studio hits -- three of which were recently re-recorded -- five live songs, and two unplugged tracks.
Waite has been successfully writing, recording and performing some of the most listenable, enduring and appreciated popular music for more than 35 years. He rose to fame as bassist and lead vocalist for The Babys, who rocketed to Top 20 chart positions with a pair of infections hits - “Isn’t it Time” from the band’s 1977 sophomore LP, Broken Heart and the monster ballad, “Every Time I Think of You” off 1978’s Head First.
After the breakup of The Babys--prompted by a serious injury to Waite in 1980 when he was pulled from the stage by an overzealous fan during an encore--Waite began an abundant and prodigious solo career, ignited by the well-received 1982 release, Ignition, which featured the hit single, “Change.” John’s next solo effort, 1984’s No Brakes, did exactly what the title inferred, barreling at runaway train speed to international acclaim and U.S. platinum success thanks to the smash hit, “Missing You,” which did not stop until it reached Number 1 on the Billboard’s Hot 100 Singles, Album Rock Tracks and Adult Contemporary charts. The following up single, “Tears” was a top 10 hit on the Billboard Mainstream Rock charts.
In 1988, a reunion with former Baby’s band mates, Jonathan Cain and Ricky Phillips –along with uber-guitarist Neal Schon from Journey and drummer Deen Castronovo –resulted in the John Waite fronted supergroup, Bad English. And in 1989, the group’s ballad, “When I See You Smile,” – penned by Grammy-winning songwriter, Diane Warren – went to Number 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 and was certified Gold. The album reached Top Five and sold more than two million units in the U.S. alone. Bad English released two albums before breaking up in 1992.
Since returning to the recording studio and concert trek as a solo artist in 1995, John has produced a string of solid, existentially eccentric, courageously eclectic and blisteringly electric rock n’ roll records, including 1995’s Temple Bar, 1997’s When You Were Mine, 2001’s Figure in a Landscape, 2004’s The Hard Way, 2006’s Downtown: Journey of a Heart, 2010’s In Real Time and 2011's Rough and Tumble, the title track of which earned Waite a Grammy nomination.