Music City hit tunesmith Peter McCann, a longtime activist in the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI), passed away at home, in his sleep, on Jan. 26.
He is noted for such enduring songs as Jennifer Warnes’ “Right Time of the Night” (1977), Earl Thomas Conley’s “Nobody Falls Like a Fool” (1985) and Janie Fricke’s “She’s Single Again” (1985). As a vocalist, McCann had a 1977 pop hit with “Do You Wanna Make Love,” which he also wrote.
Born in Connecticut in 1948, McCann founded the folk-rock group The Repairs while he was a college student. In 1971, he traveled to California with the group to record for Motown Records. After three Repairs albums, McCann landed a staff songwriting gig at ABC’s publishing division.
The top-10 pop smash “Right Time of the Night” launched his career. It was his first hit as a songwriter, Jennifer Warnes’ first hit as a singer and Jim Ed Norman’s first hit as a producer.
The song’s success led to a recording contract of his own. McCann was signed to 20th Century Records, where “Do You Wanna Make Love” became a No. 5 pop hit and a Gold Record. The song was quickly recorded by the country artists Bobby Smith, Buck Owens and David Wills, all of whom charted with it in 1977-79.
Songwriting success continued after McCann moved to Nashville in 1985. The Janie Fricke and Earl Thomas Conley hits paved his way into Music City. His co-written “Wall of Tears” was K.T. Oslin’s debut single on RCA in 1987. Baillie & The Boys had a 1991 hit with his cowritten “Treat Me Like a Stranger.” McCann’s “The Star” was recorded by Kathy Mattea for her Grammy-winning album Good News in 1993.
Whitney Houston recorded McCann’s “Take Good Care of My Heart” for her 1985 debut album. It has sold more than 20 million units. Jermaine Jackson has also recorded this song. McCann’s songs have been recorded by such pop stars as Shaun Cassidy, Karen Carpenter, Isaac Hayes & Millie Jackson, Paul Anka, Julio Iglesias, John Travolta, Bobby Vinton, Donny Osmond, Ricky Nelson and Andy Williams.
But Peter McCann’s songwriting mostly found favor with country recording artists. Among those who have recorded his works are Con Hunley, Lynn Anderson, Crystal Gayle, Lee Greenwood, Michael Johnson, Reba McEntire, Jim Ed Brown & Helen Cornelius, Anne Murray, Rodney Carrington, Nicolette Larson, Eddie Rabbitt, Kenny Rogers, Lisa Brokop and Shelly West. In 1987-88, Mickey Gllley, Louise Mandrell and Pake McEntire all had top-40 country hits with singles written by McCann. The songwriter spent years signed to the CBS/Sony and EMI publishing companies on Music Row.
In 1999, McCann was given the Volunteerism Award from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. This was for composing its anthem “Among the Missing,” recorded by Michael McDonald and Kathy Mattea.
Peter McCann was always a strong advocate for songwriters and publishers. He joined the NSAI and rose to be vice president of its board and the chairman of its legislative committee for more than a decade. He spent upwards of 25 years lobbying for songwriters rights in Washington.
This brought him into contact with conservative senator Orrin Hatch of Utah. Hatch was a songwriter. He and McCann co-wrote several songs, including “Come to the Manger,” which was recorded by The Oak Ridge Boys. In 1995, McCann released a Christmas album of his own compositions on RCA.
Pater McCann lectured on copyright law at universities and music-industry events. In 1995 he won NSAI’s President’s Choice award for his work in copyright protection. In 2003, he won a special commendation from SESAC for his continuing efforts to strengthen the nation’s copyright laws.
McCann was a 1993 graduate of Leadership Music. He died at age 74 and is survived by his wife of 41 years, Jacalyn Sheridan, and their son, Colin McCann. No funeral arrangements have been announced. According to Leadership Music, a celebration of Peter McCann’s life will be announced at a later date.
- DISClaimer Single Reviews: Luke Grimes Releases ‘Relaxed, Thoughtful’ New Cover - December 7, 2023
- DISClaimer Single Reviews: Tim McGraw Delivers ‘Downright Inspirational’ New Track - November 30, 2023
- Hit Producer & MGM Exec Jim Vienneau Dies At Age 97 - November 20, 2023