Joseph Brooks (songwriter)

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Joseph Brooks
Joseph Brooks (songwriter), 1978.jpg
Joseph Brooks in 1978 as he appeared in
If Ever I See You Again
Joseph Kaplan

(1938-03-11)March 11, 1938
DiedMay 22, 2011(2011-05-22) (aged 73)
Upper East Side, New York City, U.S.
Cause of death Suicide by asphyxia
Other names
  • Joe Brooks
  • Joey Brooks
Musical career
Genres Pop
Occupation(s)Composer, director, producer, screenwriter, musician
Associated acts

Joseph Brooks, born Joseph Kaplan [1] (March 11, 1938 – May 22, 2011), [2] was an American composer, director, producer, and screenwriter. He was a prolific writer of advertising jingles and wrote the hit songs "My Ship Is Comin' In", "If Ever I See You Again", and "You Light Up My Life", the latter for the hit film of the same name that he also wrote, directed, and produced. In his later years he became the subject of an investigation after being accused of a series of casting-couch rapes. He was indicted in 2009, but committed suicide on May 22, 2011, before his trial.

My Ship Is Comin In 1965 single by The Walker Brothers

"My Ship Is Comin' In" is a song written by Joey Brooks which was first a song for the American soul singer Jimmy Radcliffe in 1965 and was later recorded and released by the American pop group The Walker Brothers as their fourth single that same year. Outside the US and Canada, the song's title was "My Ship Is Coming In". The accompaniment was directed by Ivor Raymonde. The song appeared as the opening track on the group's debut US studio album Introducing the Walker Brothers.

"If Ever I See You Again" is the title of a 1978 hit single by Roberta Flack. The song was composed by Joseph "Joe" Brooks and served as the title song for the 1978 film If Ever I See You Again, which Brooks directed and also starred in with Shelley Hack as his leading lady. Male vocalist Jamie Carr sang the theme song on the film's soundtrack.

You Light Up My Life (song) 1977 single by Debby Boone

"You Light Up My Life" is a ballad written by Joseph "Joe" Brooks, and originally recorded by Kasey Cisyk for the soundtrack album to the 1977 film of the same name. The song was lip synced in the film by its lead actress, Didi Conn. The best-known version of the song is a cover by Debby Boone, the daughter of singer Pat Boone. It held the #1 position on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for ten consecutive weeks in 1977, setting a new record for that time. She topped Record World magazine's Top 100 Singles Chart for a record of 13 weeks.


Early life and singing career

Brooks was born Joseph Kaplan [1] on March 11, 1938 in Manhattan, and grew up in Manhattan and Lawrence, Long Island, New York. [3] In later interviews, he claimed to have started playing piano at age 3 and writing plays at age 5, following his parents' divorce. [2] As a child, he also developed a severe lifelong stutter that, according to his production partner Robert K. Lifton, would disappear when Brooks sang or acted. [2] [4] He later attended five different colleges, including Juilliard, but did not graduate from any. [2]

Manhattan Borough in New York City and county in New York, United States

Manhattan, , is the most densely populated of the five boroughs of New York City, coextensive with New York County, one of the original counties of the U.S. state of New York. Manhattan serves as the city's economic and administrative center, cultural identifier, and historical birthplace. The borough consists mostly of Manhattan Island, bounded by the Hudson, East, and Harlem rivers; several small adjacent islands; and Marble Hill, a small neighborhood now on the U.S. mainland, physically connected to the Bronx and separated from the rest of Manhattan by the Harlem River. Manhattan Island is divided into three informally bounded components, each aligned with the borough's long axis: Lower, Midtown, and Upper Manhattan.

Lawrence, Nassau County, New York Village in New York, United States

Lawrence is a village in Nassau County, New York in the United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the village population was 6,483.

Stuttering, also known as stammering, is a speech disorder in which the flow of speech is disrupted by involuntary repetitions and prolongations of sounds, syllables, words or phrases as well as involuntary silent pauses or blocks in which the person who stutters is unable to produce sounds. The term stuttering is most commonly associated with involuntary sound repetition, but it also encompasses the abnormal hesitation or pausing before speech, referred to by people who stutter as blocks, and the prolongation of certain sounds, usually vowels or semivowels. According to Watkins et al., stuttering is a disorder of "selection, initiation, and execution of motor sequences necessary for fluent speech production". For many people who stutter, repetition is the main problem. The term "stuttering" covers a wide range of severity, encompassing barely perceptible impediments that are largely cosmetic to severe symptoms that effectively prevent oral communication. In the world, approximately four times as many men as women stutter, encompassing 70 million people worldwide, or about 1% of the world's population.

In the late 1950s, Brooks pursued a career as a singer-songwriter, adopting the name "Joey Brooks" [5] (later changed to "Joe Brooks" or "Joseph Brooks" [1] ) He released several records on the Canadian-American label as "Joey Brooks", and on Decca as "Joey Brooks and the Baroque Folk". [6] When his singing career failed, he drifted into advertising and occasional songwriting work, [2] although he sporadically released several more records throughout the 1960s and 1970s.

Canadian-American Records US-Canadian record label founded by Leonard Zimmer and Don Costa

Canadian-American Records was a record label founded by Leonard Zimmer and based in New York City and Winnipeg, Manitoba. It was started in February, 1959 by Gene Orndorf of Deering, North Dakota. The most popular artists for the label were the duo of Santo & Johnny and the singer Linda Scott. The label is based in Lititz, Pennsylvania.

Decca Records US/British record label

Decca Records is a British major record label established in 1929 by Edward Lewis. Its U.S. label was established in late 1934 by Lewis, along with American Decca's first president Jack Kapp and later American Decca president Milton Rackmil. In 1937, anticipating Nazi aggression leading to World War II, Lewis sold American Decca and the link between the UK and U.S. Decca labels was broken for several decades. The British label was renowned for its development of recording methods, while the American company developed the concept of cast albums in the musical genre. Both wings are now part of the Universal Music Group, which is owned by Vivendi, a media conglomerate headquartered in Paris, France. The US Decca label was the foundation company that evolved into UMG.

Advertising, film and stage career

In the 1960s, Brooks composed advertising jingles for clients including Pepsi ("You've Got a Lot to Live") and Maxwell House ("Good to the Last Drop Feeling"). He received numerous Clio Awards for his work, as well as a People's Choice Award. [7] Credited as "Joey Brooks", he also wrote the song "My Ship Is Comin' In", a Top Ten UK hit in 1966 for the Walker Brothers. [8]

Pepsi is a carbonated soft drink manufactured by PepsiCo. Originally created and developed in 1893 by Caleb Bradham and introduced as Brad's Drink, it was renamed as Pepsi-Cola on August 28, 1898, and then as Pepsi in 1961.

Maxwell House American coffee brand

Maxwell House is a US brand of coffee manufactured by a like-named division of Kraft Heinz. Introduced in 1892 by wholesale grocer Joel Owsley Cheek (1852–1935), it was named in honor of the now-defunct Maxwell House Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee, which was its first major customer. For nearly 100 years, until the late 1980s, it was the highest-selling coffee brand in the United States. The company's slogan is "Good to the last drop", which is often incorporated into their logo and is printed on their labels.

The Walker Brothers American pop band

The Walker Brothers were an American pop group of the 1960s and 1970s that included Noel Scott Engel, John Walker and Gary Leeds. After moving to Britain in 1965, they had a number of top ten albums and singles there, including the No. 1 chart hits "Make It Easy on Yourself" and "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine (Anymore)", both of which also made the US top 20 and Canadian top 2. In between the two was the lesser US hit "My Ship is Coming In".

In the 1970s, Brooks, who had become wealthy from his advertising work (at one point claiming to have 150 commercials on the air), [2] began composing for films. He wrote music for the American release of The Garden of the Finzi-Continis (1970), Marjoe (1972), and The Lords of Flatbush (1974) in which he was also an investor. [2] [9] [10] He wrote "Blue Balloon (The Hourglass Song)" which was sung by Robby Benson as the theme song for the film Jeremy (1973), [11] and further claimed to have written, cast and directed most of Jeremy, although Arthur Barron was the sole writer and director of record. [9] [12] Brooks' claim was recognized by New York Times film critic Roger Greenspun, who wrote that "it seems fair to suggest that, in whatever proportion, both men were involved in the authorship of the film." [13]

<i>The Garden of the Finzi-Continis</i> (film) 1970 film by Vittorio De Sica

The Garden of the Finzi-Continis is a 1970 Italian film, directed by Vittorio De Sica. It stars Lino Capolicchio, Dominique Sanda and Helmut Berger. The film is based upon Giorgio Bassani's novel of the same name.

<i>Marjoe</i> 1972 documentary film

Marjoe is a 1972 American documentary film produced and directed by Howard Smith and Sarah Kernochan about the life of evangelist Marjoe Gortner. It won the 1972 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

<i>The Lords of Flatbush</i> 1974 film directed by Martin Davidson

The Lords of Flatbush is a 1974 American drama film directed by Martin Davidson and Stephen Verona. The film stars Perry King, Sylvester Stallone and Henry Winkler. Stallone was also credited with writing additional dialogue. The plot is about street teenagers in leather jackets from the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York.

Brooks next developed his own film project, You Light Up My Life , which he wrote, produced, directed and scored on a budget of approximately $1 million. The romantic drama about an aspiring singer, starring Didi Conn, became a box office success despite poor reviews. [2] [4] [14] The title song Brooks composed for the film was an even bigger success; a cover version by Debby Boone reached #1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart and held the top position for 10 consecutive weeks, at that time the longest Number One reign in the chart's history. [15] With sales of over five million copies, [16] the song ultimately became the biggest hit of the 1970s, [17] and earned Brooks a Grammy Award for Song of the Year, an Academy Award for Best Original Song, a Golden Globe Award and an American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) award. [18]

<i>You Light Up My Life</i> (film) 1977 film by Joseph Brooks

You Light Up My Life is a 1977 American romantic drama film written and directed by Joseph Brooks and starring Didi Conn, Joe Silver, and Michael Zaslow. The plot concerns a young woman named Laurie (Conn) with dreams of becoming a singer who soon finds herself pressed by young friends to sing and her father, who wants her to be a comic.

Didi Conn American actress

Edith Conn, professionally known as Didi Conn, is an American actress, best known for her work as Frenchie in Grease, Denise Stevens Downey in Benson and Stacy Jones in Shining Time Station. Conn was born in Brooklyn, New York, the daughter of a clinical psychologist.

Cover version later version of a song already established with a different earlier performer

In popular music, a cover version, remake, cover song, revival, or simply cover, is a new performance or recording by someone other than the original artist or composer of a previously recorded, commercially released song.

Brooks attempted to follow up his success with a similar romantic drama, If Ever I See You Again (1978), for which Brooks not only co-wrote, produced, directed and scored, but also played the leading role (a successful composer of TV commercial jingles, much like himself in real life), despite having no significant prior acting experience. [3] [4] [9] Although the title song became a moderate hit for Roberta Flack, peaking at #24 on the Hot 100 chart, the movie received sharply negative reviews and was a box-office bomb. [10] Brooks was subsequently involved in several other films, including directing and scoring Invitation to the Wedding (1983) in which Ralph Richardson and John Gielgud appeared, [2] and co-producing Eddie and the Cruisers (1983) (which Brooks did not score). [4] In the late 1990s, he and his then-wife Christina Bone began developing a film entitled Sara's Life Before It Became a Movie, [19] which was never released. [7]

Brooks also worked on stage productions, composing and writing for the 1989 West End musical adaptation of Metropolis and writing, directing and producing the Broadway musical In My Life (2005), a love story about a female Village Voice personals editor with obsessive-compulsive disorder and a musician with Tourette's syndrome who are brought together by a jingle-singing God. [2] [20] Robert Simonson later wrote in Brooks' Playbill obituary that In My Life was "generally regarded as one of the strangest shows ever to have graced a Broadway stage." [21] When In My Life was panned by critics including Ben Brantley of The New York Times , who called it "jaw-dropping moments of whimsy run amok", [20] Brooks spent $1.5 million on ads saying that the critics were wrong. [2]

Many sources have described Brooks as an egomaniac. [2] [4] [7] [22] His career was curtailed in 2008 by a stroke. [23]

Sexual assault indictment

In June 2009, Brooks was arrested on charges of raping or sexually assaulting eleven women lured to his East Side apartment from 2005 to 2008. His female assistant, Shawni Lucier, was charged with helping him.

"She picked the victims, set up travel arrangements and reassured them,” said Lisa Friel, chief of the district attorney's sex crimes unit. At times, she said, Ms. Lucier also reassured mothers worried about sending their daughters alone to New York on flights paid for by Mr. Brooks. And, she said, Ms. Lucier was sometimes present in the apartment when the women arrived, but left before the assaults. [24] At least four of the women accused him of sexual assault. He allegedly lured the women to his apartment to audition for movie roles. [25] According to Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, the women responded to a notice that Brooks had posted on Craigslist seeking attractive women to star in movie roles, and flew to New York from Pacific Coast states or Florida, usually at Brooks' expense.

He was indicted on June 23, 2009. He was to be tried in the state Supreme Court for Manhattan (a trial-level court) on 91 counts of rape, sexual abuse, criminal sexual act, assault, and other charges. In December 2009, prosecutors indicated that they would ask the grand jury to consider adding even more charges, in part because "additional victims" had come forward. [26] However, Brooks committed suicide on May 22, 2011, before he could be tried.

Three days after Brooks' death, Shawni Lucier pleaded guilty to ten counts of criminal facilitation. [27]

Personal life

Brooks was the older brother of Gilbert Kaplan, the founder of Institutional Investor magazine, aficionado of Gustav Mahler, and amateur conductor. [1] [7]

In 2008, Brooks suffered a stroke, which left him unable to play the piano and thus negatively affected his ability to compose. [23] It was reported that he may have had a second stroke shortly before his death. [28]

Brooks was married four times, but was single at the time of his death. [2] A 1978 news article noted that he was married with 7-year-old twins, a boy and a girl. [3] In the late 1970s, Brooks married Susan Paul, [4] an English model and actress who appeared in the films All That Jazz (1979) and Invitation to the Wedding (1983). They had two children during the 1980s and were divorced in the early 1990s. [7] Brooks later married Christina Bone. [19] [29]

In 1975, Brooks had a relationship with actress Cindy Williams, who was, at the time, starring in the movie, The First Nudie Musical, written and co-directed by her friend Bruce Kimmel - Brooks became an investor in the film. Brooks originally planned for her to star in You Light Up My Life, [30] but he and Williams were already having relationship issues and he asked Kimmel to direct You Light Up My Life, stating he couldn't control Williams. He broke up with Williams before the film was made, and the role went to Didi Conn. [31] In 2009, Brooks sued a 22-year-old ex-fiancée, claiming that he had spent $2 million on her before learning she was already married. [32]

Brooks had four children: Amanda (born 1981) and Nicholas (born 1986) (both from his marriage to Susan Paul), [7] Gabrielle, and Jeffrey. [33] Brooks' daughter Amanda has said that Brooks abused her as a child and that she and Nicholas had a difficult relationship with their father. [7] At the time of Brooks' death, Nicholas, a former student at the University of Colorado, was awaiting trial in New York City, charged with the murder of his girlfriend, swimwear designer Sylvie Cachay, in a Soho House hotel room on December 9, 2010. [7] On July 11, 2013, Nicholas was convicted of Cachay's murder. [34] He was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison in September of that year. [35]


Police reported that on May 22, 2011, Brooks was found dead in his Upper East Side condominium apartment. Brooks was found with a plastic bag over his head near a hose attached to a helium tank, with a suicide note found nearby. [36] According to a law enforcement source, in the note Brooks claimed he would be exonerated of the charges pending against him, but complained about his failing health and a woman who he claimed had abused him and taken his money. [32]

Shortly before Brooks' death, a former friend had also filed suit to seize his condominium to pay off an outstanding $3.2 million debt, alleging that Brooks had put up his longtime home as collateral for a $2.4 million loan in 2006. [32]

On May 23, 2011, the medical examiner ruled that Brooks had committed suicide, citing asphyxia by helium. [37]

Partial list of credits



See also

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