Rob Hegel is a singer/songwriter best known for writing the Air Supply top twenty hit Just as I Am (with guitarist Dick Wagner), the top ten disco hit Sinner Man for Sarah Dash (from Labelle), Do it for Our Country featured in the movie Grease 2, and his cult classic hit Tommy, Judy & Me.
Born and raised in Dayton, Ohio, Hegel attended Centerville High School where after seeing The Beatles on television he joined forces with some schoolmates to form the band, The Chandells, which was named the top band in the area. A change of name to Bittervetch and the release of a single, Bigger Fool, in 1966 led to more acclaim.
Hegel enrolled at the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music and continued to write and perform in various clubs around campus. Spotted by a producer while playing piano and singing in the lobby of his dorm, Hegel was asked to join a band called Me & The Other Guys that needed a singer and some original songs for a recording session. The result of the offer was a 45 release of two of Hegel's demos written during his Chandells/Bittervetch days, I Don't Care b/w When You Wake Up In The Morning. "The single was recorded at the famous King Studios in Cincinnati, the same studio where James Brown and the Famous Flames recorded. Hegel provided vocals but otherwise did not play on the songs. I Don't Care is relatively faithful to The Chandells' original, but When You Wake Up In The Morning - which in Hegel's demo is an excellent John Sebastian-like ballad - was sped up and really suffered in comparison to the original.
Hegel stayed with the group long enough to record that one lone single and to play one concert. Due to contacts made as Music Director of the campus radio station, Hegel was asked to take the position of record promotion manager for A&I and Supreme Distributors in Cincinnati. Representing over 100 labels Hegel quickly learned the business of getting records played on the radio and into stores so people could buy them. Hegel had a knack for knowing which records were going to be hits, and was the first to get radio stations to play Maggie May (Rod Stewart), Outta Space (Billy Preston), and Little Willie (The Sweet). Hegel's abilities caught the attention of RCA Records and he was asked to be their sole representative in southern Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. Taking the job, and realizing there was a market for his original tunes, Hegel went back into the studio and recorded a few songs to send to his boss at RCA for consideration. The results of the session included the Nilssonesque New York City Girl which RCA loved and Hegel was signed to his first major label recording contract in 1973.
Hegel moved to New York City and criss-crossed the country promoting the single. New York City Girl received a fair amount of airplay in the Midwest and bubbled under the Hot 100 charts. In preparation for the next recording session, Hegel formed a writing partnership with lyricist Amanda George. They signed a publishing deal with Chappell Music, and RCA selected two of their first collaborations to be Hegel's second single. The recordings of Hello Jekyll, Godby Mister Hyde and Old Hat featured 3 studio legends, Steve Gadd, Tony Levin, and Hugh McCracken, and were produced by RCA staff producer, Bruce Somerfeld.
Creative differences led to Hegel asking RCA to release him from his contract. Co-author, Amanda George, took a job as a writer for a television game show produced by music industry legend, Don Kirshner. Part of the application required that she present samples of her work and when her submissions caught Kirshner's ear he signed Hegel and George to a multi-year contract as staff songwriters. The songs written by Hegel and George during the Kirshner years included many that were written and recorded for Kirshner's various television projects; NBC's The Kids From C.A.P.E.R. starring John Lansing and Steve Bonino; A YEAR AT THE TOP (co-produced with Norman Lear) for CBS starring Mickey Rooney, Paul Shaffer, and Greg Evigan; theme songs for the pilot episodes of Say Uncle and Stick Around (starring Andy Kaufman); and the instrumental track from Sinner Man was used as the theme for Don Kirshner's Rock Concert.
Hegel re-signed with RCA in 1980 and released the Hegel LP in May of that year. The first single for the album, Tommy, Judy & Me, became an east coast and New York City sensation. It went top 5 at every station playing it, but the opening lyric ("Tommy said that he's had some girls in the strangest positions in the back of his car") was deemed too controversial for many stations to add it to their playlists. The popularity of the song on the stations that did play it caught the attention of Dick Clark and Hegel was invited to appear on American Bandstand. Upon arriving in Hollywood Hegel was informed that the network censors would not clear Tommy, Judy & Me and the producer asked for 2 other songs to be performed instead. We're Lovers After All and Out of my Mind were selected, the opening line of latter being "If I had known you for a day before I met you, I would have shot you on sight."
Renowned choreographer, Patricia Birch, who had just been given the director's chair for the movie GREASE 2, also noticed the uniqueness of Tommy, Judy & Me and asked Hegel to submit some songs. After receiving the script, Hegel wrote Do It for Our Country for the bomb shelter scene and played it over the phone for an enthusiastic Ms. Birch.
In 1982 Hegel was introduced to guitarist and songwriter Dick Wagner and they decided to write some songs for Hegel to record and Wagner to produce. The first song written and recorded was Just as I Am. Legendary record promoter, Chuck Dembrak, took the recording to Chip Taylor at Polydor/Mercury Records and Hegel was signed to a recording contract. In 1983, on the day Chip Taylor and the entire promotion department were fired, Just as I Am was released.
Hegel got a call from a former associate at RCA, Dave Carpin, who was now at Arista, saying he thought Just as I Am was perfect for Air Supply to follow their smash hit, Making Love Out of Nothing at All and was going to give it to Clive Davis for evaluation. In 1985 Arista released Air Supply's version of the song and it became a top twenty hit.
In 1985 Chuck Dembrak approached Hegel with an idea to do a dance instrumental version of the Iron Butterfly classic, In a Gadda Da Vida for Kama Sutra Records. Dembrak brought in guitarist Les Fradkin and with Hegel producing and playing the synthesizer parts with Fradkin this oddity was recorded. Needing a "B" side Hegel enlisted his friend, the late Dick Wagner, and together they recorded an instrumental version of Hegel's Frustrated Released in 1985 the record was well received, but regarded as a spoof. Wagner's guitar parts and overdubs are another notch in his long history of great moments.
Hegel released HEGEL 2 - displays (a 20 song CD compilation) on Red Lips Records in 2009. The CD features original first recordings of his classics Tommy, Judy & Me, We're Lovers After All, and You Wonder. A download only collection titled, Road Signs was released in 2012 and features some of Hegel's current work.In 2014 Hegel was asked to contribute songs to the Pete Quaife Foundation CD: Legends - Shoulder to Shoulder. Hegel contributed You & I from his Road Signs CD and recorded a mostly a cappella version of Ray Davies' Kinks classic Tired of Waiting for You. The CD set is expected to be released in December 2014.
In addition to his songwriting and recording abilities Hegel has always been recognized for his outstanding vocal harmonies and background vocal arranging skills. For Don Kirshner Hegel arranged and sang background vocals (with Jay Siegel of The Tokens) for The Kids From C.A.P.E.R. project, and two albums by Sarah Dash: her debut album that featured Sinner Man and the follow-up Oh La La. (Records produced by Wally Gold - writer of It's My Party and It's Now or Never). During this time Hegel was also hired to write, arrange, and perform the theme songs for two television pilots: Say Uncle (starring Richard B. Shull) and Stick Around (starring Andy Kaufman). Producer Steve Katz called Hegel into the studio to sing multi-overdub background vocals for the Sad Song track on Lou Reed Live, and for Harper Hug at Thunder Underground Recording Studio Hegel has arranged and performed all background vocals on Jamie Palumbo's Realistic CD and sang the background vocals on John Stanley King Band's Dem Boulettes.
In his first novel, Tuxedo Bob, co-authored with his wife Susan, Hegel combines his songwriting abilities with his quick wit and love for the English language to weave a tale of whimsy and wonder about a uniquely talented, impeccably dressed, and compulsively honest man.
In addition to Tuxedo Bob, and Hegel's extensive music catalogue, he has written a musical thriller, The Mirror Of Mister Moore, an action/detective screenplay, All That Glitter, and a stage play, and then ... what?
Text from this biography licensed under creative commons license