Stephen Bishop has been nominated for two Grammys and an Oscar nomination for his song “Separate Lives.”
At the age of 13, Bishop found himself at a crossroads. A clarinetist with hopes of becoming a history teacher, he was forever changed after watching the Beatles one night on The Ed Sullivan Show. He convinced his brother to buy him an electric guitar. He bought a “Mel Bay” chordbook and began to learn to play guitar and make up chords as well, writing his first song,”Surf’s Turf,” a pathetic-sounding instrumental. He formed a band called the Weeds and began to play at local fraternity parties incorporating his own original songs with various songs from the Top 40 charts.
The Weeds won second place at the Claremont Battle of the Bands, prompting one of the judges to explain that “Stephen Bishop is going to be a big songwriter someday!” Determined to fulfill that prophesy, Bishop made the trip to Los Angeles. He walked the streets with his $12 acoustic guitar, playing songs for various publishers in Hollywood, eventually landing a publishing deal at $50 a week for E.H. Morris Publishing. One of his songs was recorded only to be followed by a long wait --- many years went by. At one point, he considered leaving L.A. to return home and work for his dad’s insurance company. Through a good friend, Art Garfunkel heard some of his new songs and recorded two of them.
He started playing around town singing his songs in person for artists like Barbra Streisand, Bette Midler, Diana Ross, and Michelle Phillips. Shortly thereafter, he was signed to ABC Records, which released his first album. His two hits from that album were “Save It for a Rainy Day” and “On and On.” Soon the album went gold, as well as his next album.
He sang the hit theme “It Might Be You” from the movie Tootsie, as well as writing and/or singing 13 other films including Animal House and White Nights. His songs have been sung by artists such as Phil Collins, Eric Clapton, Barbra Streisand, Art Garfunkel, Steve Perry, Stephanie Mills, Kenny Loggins, Johnny Mathis, Phoebe Snow, David Crosby, the Four Tops, Aswad, and Pavarotti.
In 2011, he was featured in the March issue of England’s Mojo magazine (Nirvana cover), in a sidebar to a feature on singer Rumer where she counts him among her influences.
New L.A. label Blixa Sounds re-released Bishop's 1980 third album, Red Cab To Manhattan, in early 2018, including previously unreleased tracks.
Two Stephen Bishop songs appear on a 2018 four disc box set of session work from Phil Collins, "Walking On Air" and "Hall Light," both from the 1989 album Bowling In Paris.
As of 2021, Bishop had written over 650 songs, released 19 albums, had his music streamed over 500 million times, and sold over 15 million records worldwide for himself and other songwriters. He released his autobiography, On and Off, a project he began in 2018 in conjunction with a related documentary film.