During the ’80s, ’90s, and early 2000s, David Foster was among the most commercially successful producers and composers in all of popular music, lending his signature sweeping power ballad aesthetic to smash hits from Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, and Josh Groban while virtually defining the adult contemporary format. Born in Victoria, British Columbia, Foster began studying piano at the age of five and enrolled in the University of Washington’s music program eight years later. He joined Chuck Berry’s backing band as a 16-year-old and relocated to Los Angeles in 1971 with his group Skylark, scoring a major hit the following year with the single “Wildflower.” Foster also became a sought-after session keyboardist, appearing on recordings from superstars including John Lennon, Barbra Streisand, Diana Ross, and Rod Stewart.
Can’t Slow Down
Foster’s production career began when he helmed the 1976 eponymous debut from his own group, Attitudes. He soon turned to outside projects as well, writing and producing material for Hall & Oates, Deniece Williams, Carole Bayer Sager, Boz Scaggs, and the Average White Band. In 1979, he earned his first Grammy Award for penning Earth, Wind and Fire’s “After the Love Has Gone.” From there, Foster’s career exploded, and he was soon writing and producing for artists like Kenny Rogers, the Tubes, and Kenny Loggins. In 1982, he won a second Grammy for producing the original cast album to the Broadway hit Dreamgirls; he also composed and produced Chicago’s hit “Hard to Say I’m Sorry,” followed in 1983 by work on Lionel Richie’s blockbuster Can’t Slow Down. With 1984’s Chicago 17, Foster scored his greatest success to date, with the smash single “Hard Habit to Break” earning him a Grammy for Producer of the Year.
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