- Mar 11, 1944
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Graham Hamilton Lyle (born 11 March 1944, Bellshill, Lanarkshire, Scotland) is a Scottish singer-songwriter, guitarist and producer.
Between 1970 and 1997, he co-wrote 18 British Top 40 hits, 9 Billboard Hot 100 entries, 4 US Country No.1s and 1 US Adult Contemporary No.1, as well as 3 Australian chart-toppers. His songwriting collaborators have included Terry Britten, Albert Hammond, Troy Seals, Jim Diamond and his long-time performing partner, Benny Gallagher.
His most famous composition is Tina Turner’s 1984 US chart-topper and international smash, “What’s Love Got to Do with It?”, which reached No.1 in the US, Canada and Australia and won him the Song of the Year Grammy. He is also well known in Britain, Continental Europe and the Commonwealth as a member of Gallagher and Lyle, McGuinness Flint and Ronnie Lane’s band Slim Chance.
With Benny Gallagher (1965–1980)
Lyle and Benny Gallagher initially teamed up in 1959 as members of a local Largs-based band, The Bluefrets, and teamed up again in a band based in Saltcoats called the Tulsans with lead singer James (Drew) Galt, Dennis Donald (keyboards), Eric Brown on guitar, Benny Gallagher (bass) and Graham Lyle (drums). The Tulsans released two singles in 1965 under the name James Galt for Pye that are now prized by northern soul collectors: “Comes The Dawn” and “With My Baby”. Benny and Graham later moved to London in the mid 60s.
A rare one-off single, “Trees”, was issued on UK Polydor 56093 in 1967, under the name Gallagher-Lyle.
In 1968, Gallagher and Lyle were signed by Apple Records, where they wrote for musicians such as Mary Hopkin (“Sparrow”, “The Fields of St. Etienne”, “International”, “Heritage”, and “Jefferson”).
In 1970, the two Scots became original members of the British band McGuinness Flint, writing nine of the 11 songs on the group’s eponymous debut album, including the British hit singles “When I’m Dead and Gone” and “Malt and Barley Blues”, which reached No.2 and No.5 respectively in Britain. The pair recorded a second album, Happy Birthday Ruthy Baby, with McGuinness Flint—again writing most of the songs—before leaving to form the duo Gallagher and Lyle in 1972. […]
Graham Lyle, with Benny Gallagher, wrote two songs for Mary Hopkin which were produced by Paul McCartney. Those were “Sparrow” and “Fields of St. Etienne“.
About the Gallagher and Lyle’s partnership:
McCartney really loved their stuff, and he was responsible for the Mary Hopkin cover. McCartney was the only one taking any interest in publishing. He was actually genuinely interested, and he was thrilled when Gallagher and Lyle came through because the man’s got a good ear. McCartney would actually come into the office on a regular basis and sit on the floor and listen to the songs with me, listen to these people singing in the bath in Wales sending a tape in. We’d laugh about a lot of it, but he’d also listen to the stuff that was halfway any good, and Gallagher and Lyle were really one of the better writers, or writing partnerships, that we signed during that period.John Hewlett, Apple Publishing – From “Those Were The Days 2.0” by Stefan Granados
About writing “Sparrow“:
It was Paul McCartney who showed the most enthusiasm for what we were doing. I remember he was very involved with our song “Sparrow”. What happened was that there were a few teams of songwriters who were signed to Apple: ourselves, the guys from the Iveys, and Grapefruit. McCartney said, ‘Mary Hopkin’s making this record, and we need you to write something for it, and whoever writes the winning song I’ll present with a cake. We weren’t too concerned about that, but we wanted desperately to get a cut on a Mary Hopkin record. Well, we won the cake with the song “Sparrow”. The word came back that Paul liked what we had written, but could we change a little bit at the end and things like that. So we finished the song, and she recorded it in the studio. Paul even asked us to be on the session.Graham Lyle – From “Those Were The Days 2.0” by Stefan Granados
Last updated on October 28, 2021
Songs written or co-written by Graham Lyle
Officially appears on Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be) / Fields Of St Etienne
Officially appears on Goodbye / Sparrow
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