After a successful career writing songs for Robbie Williams, Guy Chambers has just released his first album. But what is it like to be ‘silent’ partner in a songwriting collaboration with a megastar—and how do you strike out on your own?by Suchandrika Chakrabarti / June 17, 2019 / Leave a comment
Behind many of our favourite tunes, there’s often a songwriter who receives none of the onstage glory, the breathless autograph requests, the chance to make it onto the covers and homepages of music publications. What is it like to be ‘silent’ partner in a songwriting collaboration with a megastar?
Guy Chambers knows. He’s just released his first album, Go Gentle Into The Light at the age of 56, after a successful career writing songs with Robbie Williams. The album is a selection of Chambers’ classic songs played as piano instrumentals.
Chambers collaborated as songwriter, producer and musical director on Robbie Williams’ first five solo albums, all of which reached number 1 in the United Kingdom album chart and have sold over 40 million records globally. Their hit singles include “Angels,” “Let Me Entertain You,” “Millennium,” “Feel” and “Rock DJ,” among others.
In 1995, Chambers’ own band, The Lemon Trees, disbanded. Describing how he first met Williams two years later in 1997, he says that it happened “through my publisher, Paul Curran, who was a friend of Robbie’s manager, Tim Clark. Rob called me up and asked me if I could write ‘dirty pop,’ I said ‘yes’—and the rest is history.”
In a 2005 Guardian profile, Chambers explained their dynamic more fully: “I was intimidated by [Williams]. Just like he was intimidated by me. It was mutual intimidation. I’m still intimidated by him. He’s got this persona, you never know what he’s going to say or think. He’s edgy. But that’s quite good for me creatively. It woke me up a bit.”
It was also around this time that Chambers started working with award-winning singer-turned-songwriter Cathy Dennis. A pop performer in her own right, Dennis was called “a half-remembered 90s star” in a 2008 Guardian profile, which then adds: “she had 10 consecutive UK top 40 hit singles in the 1990s,” the most famous of them being “Touch Me (All Night Long)” from 1991.
It was only the year after, however, that another song she wrote was in the charts—but this time, sung by someone else. Dannii Minogue’s 1992 “Love’s On Every Corner” was the first song Dennis wrote for someone else.
Talking about the years in which she’s sold her songs to other singers, she said: “I think I naturally thrive in situations where I…