May 7, 1998 – Eddie Rabbitt was born on November 27th 1941 in Brooklyn, New York, but grew up in New Jersey from where he moved to Nashville to start a career as a songwriter in the late 1960s, springboarding to a recording career after penning such hits as “Kentucky Rain” for Elvis Presley in 1970 and “Pure Love” for Ronnie Milsap in 1974.
One of country music’s most innovative crossover artists during the late ’70s and early ’80s, Eddie Rabbitt made contributions to the format that have often gone overlooked. Especially in songs like the R&B-inflected “Suspicions” and the rockin’ “Someone Could Lose a Heart Tonight,” Rabbitt challenged the commonly recognized creative boundaries of the idiom. After he moved to Nashville, it took a few years to get his recording career off the ground, while he paid the rent through songwriting, authoring Elvis Presley’s “Kentucky Rain” and Ronnie Milsap’s “Pure Love.”
Eddie continued to write professionally until 1975, when he signed with Elektra Records’ newly established country division. Initially, Rabbitt made recordings that were decidedly country — mostly uptempo material, like “Two Dollars in the Jukebox” and “Drinkin’ My Baby (Off My Mind)” — with thick, inimitable harmonies, most of them overdubbed by Rabbitt himself.
However, with the assistance of his then-associates David Malloy and Even Stevens, Rabbitt’s records became “progressively progressive.” In 1976, he started a string of Top Ten hits that ran uninterrupted until 1989. During that time, he had 16 number one singles, including “Drinkin’ My Baby (Off My Mind)” (1976), “You Don’t Love Me Anymore” (1978), “Every Which Way But Loose” (1979), “Drivin’ My Life Away” (1980), “I Love a Rainy Night” (1980), “Step by Step” (1980), and “You and I,” a 1982 duet with Crystal Gayle, all of which which also topped the Billboard Hot 100 and Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks.
His duets “Friends and Lovers” and “You and I”, with Juice Newton and Crystal Gayle respectively, later served as the themes for the soap operas Days of Our Lives and All My Children.
In the late ’80s he returned to more traditional sounds, as his country shuffle “On Second Thought” demonstrates, but it was too late for Rabbitt to return to the top of the country charts, since he had already been supplanted by a newer generation of artists. The terminal kidney ailment of his son Timmy also factored in his decision to only sporadically record and perform during the ’90s.
In 1997, Rabbitt was diagnosed with lung cancer; the disease claimed his life on May 7, 1998. The LP From the Heart was issued posthumously.