It’s probably no surprise to you that many artists don’t write their own songs. ” But there are some super well-known names that penned songs for other artists that may have evaded you. For example, did you know Shel Silverstein wrote a song for Johnny Cash?
1Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton’s “Islands in the Stream,” Written by The Bee Gees
Bee Gees perform on stage on Dutch TV show in 1968, they wrote “Islands in the Stream”
Image via Wikimedia Commons
When The Bee Gees first set out to craft this fan favorite, inspired by an Ernest Hemingway novel of the same name, they did so with the intention that it would be an R&B song performed by Marvin Gaye, according to an interview band members Robin and Barry Gibb gave to BBC Radio 2. It was only later, in 1983, that Kenny Rogers got ahold of the track and brought in Dolly Parton to help him belt out the Bee Gees-crafted tune that would inevitably give both Rogers and Parton their second No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
2Rihanna’s “Diamonds,” Co-Written by Sia
Sia singer songs secretly written by huge stars
The notoriously press-shy Sia is also an incredibly prolific songwriter, having penned a number of hit songs for artists like Beyoncé, Britney Spears, Kylie Minogue, and Rihanna. She co-wrote one of Rihanna’s biggest tracks, the 2012 hit “Diamonds.” In fact, in an interview with The New York Times, Sia opened up about how long this iconic song took her to write—just 14 minutes.
3Sinéad O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares 2 U,” Written by Prince
prince singer songs secretly written by huge stars
In 1984, Prince first wrote and recorded this song with his backing band, the Family. But it never got much attention. The ballad was eventually handed over to up-and-comer Sinéad O’Connor in 1990, according to The Guardian. After Prince’s passing, the handlers of his estate released a plethora of his lesser-known music—and Prince’s original track was among them.
“The line ‘all the flowers that you planted in my back yard went out and died’… it would have been Sandy who planted those flowers,” Prince’s former sound engineer told The Guardian.
4David Bowie’s “Fame,” Co-Written by John Lennon
john lennon songs secretly written by huge stars
Though it is true that musical icon David Bowie penned most of his most popular hits, it turns out that he also had a bit of help crafting some tunes from his friends in the music industry. In the case of “Fame,” a 1975 single that eventually ended up in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll, Bowie’s friend John Lennon actually helped quite a bit in the songwriting process.
According to a radio interview that Bowie did with Timothy White, Lennon and Bowie met while living in New York City and “Fame” is the result of a one-day session at Electric Lady Studios in January of 1975. Lennon, it turns out, came up with the hook in the famous song.
5Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself,” Co-Written by Ed Sheeran
Ed Sheeran songs secretly written by huge stars
Along with Benny Blanco and Justin Bieber himself, Ed Sheeran also contributed some of his songwriting prowess to this 2015 catchy tune that landed on singles charts in 15 countries around the world. Two years after the song was released, Sheeran actually disclosed in an interview with Carson Daly, as reported on by Billboard, that the song was originally intended for him.
It just wouldn’t have made it. And then Justin took it and did his thing on it, and released it as a single and made it what it is,” Sheeran said. “So going from a song that would have never been released to the biggest song of last year…it just shows you that you shouldn’t always write stuff off.