Will Jennings

Induction Year: 2013

Birth Name: William H. Jennings

Birth Date: 06-27-1944

Place of Birth: Kilgore, Texas

Will Jennings has been called the greatest American lyricist of the late 20th century. The East Texas native is a sometime Nashvillian whose songs have long been published on Music Row.

In 1971, he left a teaching job at the University of Wisconsin to try his hand at songwriting in Nashville. After recordings of his works by The Addrisi Brothers, Dobie Gray and Johnny Paycheck, Jennings celebrated his first #1 song with 1975's "Feelin's," as recorded by Conway Twitty & Loretta Lynn.

Persuaded by a co-writer to move to Los Angeles, Jennings forged a career of crafting lyrics for a string of big pop-music hits of the 1970s and 1980s. Among them were "Looks Like We Made It" by Barry Manilow (1977), "I'll Never Love This Way Again" by Dionne Warwick (1979), "Higher Love" by Steve Winwood (1986) and "Didn't We Almost Have It All" by Whitney Houston (1987).

In 1982, his co-written "Up Where We Belong," sung by Joe Cocker & Jennifer Warnes, earned an Academy Award for Best Song. It was featured in the film An Officer and a Gentleman. In 1992, his co-written "Tears In Heaven," recorded by Eric Clapton, earned a Grammy Award as Song of the Year.

His second Academy Award for Best Song came in 1998 for "My Heart Will Go On." Sung by Celine Dion, it was the love theme for the cinematic blockbuster Titanic. This song also earned Jennings another Grammy for Song of the Year.

Will Jennings has remained on the country charts with hits such as "Many A Long And Lonesome Highway" by Rodney Crowell, "If The Phone Doesn't Ring, It's Me" by Jimmy Buffett and "Please Remember Me" by Tim McGraw. Jennings' songs have also been popularized by such Nashville stars as Johnny Cash, Emmylou Harris, Faith Hill, The Bellamy Brothers, Crystal Gayle, Amy Grant, Brady Seals and Clint Black.

Jennings was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in New York in 2006.

"Back In The High Life Again"

(written with Steve Winwood)

Steve Winwood1987 #1 a/c, #13 pop

"Better Not Look Down"

(written with Joe Sample)

B.B. King1979 #30 r&b

"Didn't We Almost Have It All"

(written with Michael Masser)

Whitney Houston1987 #1 pop, #1 a/c, #2 r&b

"Don't You Know What the Night Can Do"

(written with Steve Winwood)

Steve Winwood1988 #2 a/c, #6 pop


(written with Don Goodman, Troy Seals)

Loretta Lynn & Conway Twitty1975 #1 country

"Higher Love"

(written with Steve Winwood)

Steve Winwood1986 #1 pop, #7 a/c
Luke Benward2009 

"Holding On"

(written with Steve Winwood)

Steve Winwood1989 #1 a/c, #11 pop

"I'll Never Love This Way Again"

(written with Richard Kerr)

Dionne Warwick1979 #5 pop, #5 a/c, #18 r&b
Mantovanni Orchestra1991 
Doc Severinson1993 
Color Me Badd1998 

"I'm So Glad I'm Standing Here Today"

(written with Joe Sample)

The Crusaders & Joe Cocker1981 #67 a/c, #97 pop
The Oak Ridge Boys1983 
The Crusaders & B.B. King 1987 
B.J. Thomas1992 

"If the Phone Doesn't Ring, It's Me"

(written with Jimmy Buffett, Michael Utley)

Crystal Gayle1982 
Jimmy Buffett1985 #16 country, #37 a/c

"Keep On Lovin' Me"

(written with Troy Seals)

Johnny Paycheck1974 #23 country

"Looks Like We Made It"

(written with Richard Kerr)

Barry Manilow1977 #1 pop, #1 a/c

"Many A Long And Lonesome Highway"

(written with Rodney Crowell)

Rodney Crowell 1989 #3 country

"My Heart Will Go On"

(written with James Horner)

Oscar for Best Song; 1998 Grammy for Best Song; 1998 Grammy for Best Song Written For A Motion Picture Or For TV

Celine Dion1998  #1 pop, #1 a/c
Neil Diamond1998 
The Lettermen2000 
Kenny G2003 
Jackie Evancho2012 
Il Divo2012 

"Never Make A Move Too Soon"

(written with Stix Hooper)

B.B. King1978 #19 r&b

"No Night So Long"

(written with Richard Kerr)

Dionne Warwick1980 #1 a/c, #19 r&b, #23 pop

"Oh How The Years Go By"

(written with Simon Climie)

Amy Grant1994 
Vanessa Williams1998 #6 a/c

"Old Time Feeling"

(written with Tom Jans)

Dobie Gray1974 
Tom Jans1974 
Johnny Cash & June Carter1976 #26 country

"Please Remember Me"

(written with Rodney Crowell)

Rodney Crowell1995 #69 country
Aaron Neville & Linda Ronstadt1997 
Tim McGraw1999 #1 country, #10 pop
Danielle Bradbery2013 #30 country

"Roll With It"

(written with Steve Winwood)

Steve Winwood1988 #1 pop, #1 a/c
Larry Carlton2001 

"Somewhere In The Night"

(written with Richard Kerr)

Kim Carnes1975 
Helen Reddy1976 #2 a/c, #19 pop
Barry Manilow1979 #4 a/c, #9 pop

"Street Life"

(written with Joe Sample)

The Crusaders & Randy Crawford1979 #17 r&b
B.B. King1981 

"Talking Back To The Night"

(written with Steve Winwood)

Steve Winwood1988 #7 a/c, #57 pop

"Tears In Heaven"

(written with Eric Clapton)

1992 Grammy for Best Song

Eric Clapton1992 #2 pop, #1 a/c
Janie Fricke1992 
Warren Hill1993 
Ruth Brown1993 
James Galway1994 
Ann Peebles1999 
Tuck & Patti2002 
Paul Anka2005 

"The Finer Things"

(written with Steve Winwood)

Steve Winwood1987 #1 a/c, #8 pop

"Up Where We Belong"

(written with Jack Nitzsche, Buffy Sainte-Marie)

1982 Oscar for Best Song

Joe Cocker & Jennifer Warnes1982 #1 pop, #3 a/c soundtrack An Officer and a Gentleman
Patti LaBelle1986 
Tompall Glaser1986 
Buffy Sainte Marie1996 
Glenn Yarbrough1997 
The Lettermen1999 
Tramaine Hawkins2001 
Glen Campbell2004 
Cliff Richards & Anne Murray2006 
BeBe & CeCe Winans2007 
The Williams Brothers2008 
Juice Newton & Glen Campbell2010 


(written with Steve Winwood)

Steve Winwood1982 #70 pop
Steve Winwood (reissued)1987 #2 a/c, #9 pop

"What Kind Of Love"

(written with Rodney Crowell, Roy Orbison)

Rodney Crowell 1992 #9 a/c, #11 country
Mike Walker2011 

"Where Are You Christmas?"

(written with Mariah Carey, James Horner)

Taylor Momsen2000 
Faith Hill2000 #10 a/c, #26 country, #65 pop, soundtrack How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Faith Hill (reissue)2001 #40 a/c

"While You See A Chance"

(written with Steve Winwood)

Steve Winwood1981 #7 pop, #17 a/c

Will Jennings

Induction Year: 2013