As a music fan in the 1970s, I would pore over the liner notes of my vinyl albums. I began to notice that a lot of the same names would be listed as session players on records by artists like Warren Zevon, James Taylor, Jackson Browne, and Joni Mitchell. One of the names that popped up quite often was Andrew Gold, a multi-instrumentalist and major contributor to Linda Ronstadt’s Heart Like a Wheel, Prisoner in Disguise, and Hasten Down The Wind discs.
Gold was a talented singer, songwriter, and producer who also worked with Art Garfunkel, Carly Simon, Stephen Bishop, and JD Souther, among many others. He also had a successful career as a solo artist.
Gold was born in Burbank, California, and music was in his genes. His parents were Ernest Gold, a composer who won an Oscar for his score to the film Exodus, and Marni Nixon, who provided the singing voices for Natalie Wood in West Side Story and Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady. He began writing songs in his early teens, and by the time he was 16, had earned a record contract with Polydor Records based on the positive response to a set of demos he’d submitted to the label’s London office. In 1967, with his friend Charles Villiers, (who’d been a member of Gold’s high school band The Wails), the duo issued the single “Of All The Little Girls.” While that was the only release from Villiers and Gold, it wasn’t the last music we’d hear from Andrew Gold.
In the late 1960s, Gold co-founded the Los Angeles-based folk-rock outfit Bryndle, along with Karla Bonoff, Kenny Edwards, and Wendy Waldman. Their single “Woke Up This Morning,” was the only song released from the sessions for what should have been their debut album by A&M Records. The group disbanded due to the lack of support from their label, and all four members soon found work in the active West Coast rock music scene. Gold became a much-in-demand session player, arranger, and producer. He had a longtime association with Linda Ronstadt. Gold played guitar, drums, and piano on the studio version of Ronstadt’s mega-hit “You’re No Good.” He was a key member of her live band throughout the 1970s and played with Ronstadt again in the 1980s and 1990s.
As a gifted songwriter, it was inevitable that Gold would record his own compositions, and in 1975, he released his self-titled solo debut, which included marvelous songs such as “A Note From You” and “Resting In Your Arms.” But it was his sophomore disc, 1976’s What’s Wrong With This Picture? that garnered him his first significant hit, “Lonely Boy” which featured Ronstadt on backing vocals. The album also included Gold’s “Go Back Home Again” and “Passing Thing” as well as a rocking cover of Manfred Mann’s “Do Wah Diddy.” What’s Wrong With This Picture? benefitted greatly from the stellar session work of Waddy Wachtel, Russ Kunkel, Danny Kortchmar, and Leland Sklar, aka The Section. “Lonely Boy” reached number seven on the Billboard charts in 1977. Gold sprinkled several details from his real life into the tune, including his birth year, but later stated that, unlike the song’s central character, he had a happy childhood.
Gold continued to collaborate with other artists, including Jackson Browne, The Eagles, and Eric Carmen, formerly of The Raspberries, for whom he played guitar on the 1977 hit “She Did It.” Gold’s third solo disc, 1978’s All This and Heaven Too, included the lovely, melancholy “Still You Linger On” and “Thank You For Being A Friend,” which reached number 25 on the US charts. The tune later gained a second life as the theme to the long-running sitcom The Golden Girls, though the version used for the television series was recorded by Cindy Fee. The album also featured the terrific love song “Never Let Her Slip Away,” which became a top ten hit in the UK. It’s a tune that Dave Grohl (who’s declared himself an avowed Andrew Gold fan in several interviews) called “the most beautiful piece of music ever written” on an episode of Marc Maron’s podcast.
During the 1980s, Gold worked on music with The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Nicolette Larson, Cher, and Vince Gill. He also played on, co-wrote, and produced several tracks on Ten Out Of Ten, an album by the British band 10cc. Gold was actually invited to join the group, but had to decline due to other commitments. After 10cc’s breakup, Gold and that group’s guitarist, Graham Gouldman, collaborated on a pair of singles and went on to form Wax (known in the US as Wax UK) a New Wave-styled outfit. The band went on to release three albums in the 1980s, and gained some success with the songs “Right Between The Eyes” and “Bridge To Your Heart.”
The multi-talented Gold remained busy in the 1990s and 2000s, writing and releasing music as a solo artist, as well as co-writing and producing music for films and television series. He also joined up with his former bandmates to re-form Bryndle, recording two albums with the group; their long-awaited debut Bryndle was released in 1995 and was followed by 2001’s House of Silence. He issued a Halloween-themed album in 1996 entitled Halloween Howls, which featured the popular song “Spooky Scary Skeletons.”
Under the pseudonym The Fraternal Order of the All, Gold unveiled Greetings From Planet Love in 1997, a heartfelt tribute to the psychedelic and pop music of the 1960s, paying homage to The Beatles, The Beach Boys, and The Byrds. Unfortunately, Andrew passed away in 2011, but this gifted musician remains beloved by his fellow performers and also left behind a rich and varied musical legacy for his fans.
Photo: Fair Use publicity photo of Andrew Gold