Glen Ballard

Glen Ballard

Glen Ballard (born 1953 in Natchez, Mississippi, U.S.) is a veteran songwriter and record producer, best known as the producer of Alanis Morissette's "Jagged Little Pill", which went platinum sixteen times in the U.S. and sold more than 30 million copies worldwide. He started playing the piano from a very young age and later learned the guitar. Ballard was ten years old when he wrote his first song, and he was in local rock bands beginning in grade five.

Early life and career

Ballard has a love for diverse musical styles. When he was younger, Jerry Lee Lewis lived within ten miles of his Natchez home, and young Ballard grew up watching him perform. Ballard’s favorites included southern rhythm and blues singer Irma Thomas, Memphis based soul singer Al Green, and nearly all of the great blues and jazz singers emerging from New Orleans. When the Beatles became popular, Ballard’s appreciation of pop music expanded.

Ballard attended the University of Mississippi, where he was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. He studied English language, political science, and journalism, and he graduated with honors. He had the option of attending either graduate or law schools, but Ballard was intent upon a career as a songwriter. Within a week of graduation (1975), he moved to the West Coast.

Ballard joined Elton John’s organization in Los Angeles. Starting out as a lower level assistant, Ballard eventually ended up playing piano for Kiki Dee. He was writing constantly, and when Dee recorded his song "One Step" in 1978, Ballard had his first charted single. This success enabled him to secure a professional songwriting job at MCA Music Publishing. Even though Ballard was only earning $100 a week, he was occupied full-time with the work he loved.

During the 1970s and 1980s, Ballard composed scores of songs, including "What’s on Your Mind," a Quincy Jones-produced hit for George Benson, along with many others for various artists. Jones saw promise in Ballard and took him under his wing. Thanks to his connection with Jones, Ballard’s "Try Your Love Again" appeared on James Ingram’s 1983 debut album, "It's Your Night". Along with Clif Magness, Glen co-wrote and produced two tracks for Patti Austin entitled "Its Gonna Be Special" and "Shoot the Moon". By the time Austin’s album came out in 1985, Ballard was writing and producing full time for his mentor, Quincy Jones, at Qwest Records. Once Ballard learned to apply his wide-range of musical sensibilities, he produced for rhythm and blues artist Evelyn "Champagne" King, Teddy Pendergrass, and Jack Wagner. Ballard and Magness wrote "All I Need" for Wagner, and it soared to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Independent songwriting

Spurred by his success, Ballard went independent. He had a number one hit for George Strait, “You Look So Good in Love." which became the 1983 country song of the year. The same year he co-wrote “Man in the Mirror,” which appeared on "Bad", Michael Jackson’s acclaimed sequel to "Thriller". “Man in the Mirror” was also produced by Quincy Jones, and it featured Ballard’s synthesizer arrangement and keyboards. This song raced to the top of the rhythm and blues charts and today it remains one of Jackson's most popular songs.

Planet 3

In 1989, Ballard teamed up with his long-time songwriting and production partner Clif Magness, as well as producer, guitarist and songwriter ace Jay Graydon, and formed the trio "Planet 3". They wrote and demoed the song "I Don't Want to Say Goodnight", which earned them a deal with Capitol Records, as well as having the song featured in the 1990 movie "Navy Seals". Planet 3 wrote and recorded an album in 1989; however, problems with the record company led to the album (called "A Heart from the Big Machine") not being released until 1991, and then in Japan only. A European release on Sony Records followed in 1992, with the trio billed as "Planet 3 featuring Jay Graydon" (the release was titled "Music from the Planet", and Graydon chose to replace the Magness/Ballard-penned "I Will be Loving You" from the Japan release with a composition of his own). The trio split around 1991. However a number of Planet 3 songs left off the album (as well as both Ballard and Graydon) were featured on Magness' solo debut album "Solo" in 1994. Also, Graydon released a collection of unreleased Planet 3 demos on his own label in 2004, under the title "Gems Unearthed". All these demos were co-written by Ballard, who is also credited with keyboards and programming on all of them.

In 1995, Ballard teamed up with Toto and co-wrote two songs with Steve Lukather and David Paich for Toto's "Tambu" album: "The Road Goes On" and "Just Can't Get to You". The latter was released as a single, whilst the former remains a fan favourite.

Recent Work

Ballard has worked with artists, including Celine Dion, Elisa, Anastacia, Shakira, Ed Kowalczyk of Live, Aretha Franklin, The Corrs, Natalie Cole, Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones, Patti Austin, George Strait, Dave Matthews Band, OAR, Christina Aguilera, Barbra Streisand, Van Halen, No Doubt, Goo Goo Dolls, Hanson, Aerosmith, Annie Lennox and P.O.D. He is also credited with launching the debuts of Lisa Marie Presley, Curtis Stigers, Jack Wagner, Paula Abdul, Wilson Phillips, Katy Perry, Josh Groban, Natalia Lesz and Alanis Morissette.

Ballard co-wrote and produced "Jagged Little Pill" for Morissette. This combination resulted in three Grammies on five Grammy nominations. He has followed this collaboration with Morissette by producing the upcoming Aerosmith album (their first for Sony Music is due this fall). Once the work on this album is complete, Ballard heads back to the studio for Alanis Morissette’s new album.

He produced and co-wrote Idina Menzel's album "I Stand". Ballard has this summer worked with singer Anouk from the Netherlands.

The self-described “musical chameleon” currently works out of a recording studio in Hollywood, CA, built in partnership with David A. Stewart of Eurhythmics. The two have done humanitarian work for Greenpeace and other organizations.


He has performed on, or produced, the following:
* "Break Out" (1983)
* "Patti Austin" (1984)
* "Workin' It Back" (1985)
* "Bad" (1987)
* "Forever Your Girl" (1989)
* "Shut Up And Dance" (1990)
* "Wilson Phillips" (1990)
* "Curtis Stigers" (1991)
* "Shadows And Light" (1992)
* "Trey Lorenz" (1992)
* "Alone In A Crowd" (1993)
* "Greatest Hits: Songs From An Aging Sex Bomb" (1993)
* "Lea Salonga" (1993)
* "Love Come Down: The Best Of Evelyn 'Champagne' King" (1993)
* "Jagged Little Pill" (1995)
* "My Cherie" (1995)
* "Naked And Sacred" (1995)
* "Time Was" (1995)
* "Van Halen Best Of Volume One" ("Me Wise Magic" and "Can't Get This Stuff No More")
* "Talk On Corners" (1997)
* "Nine Lives" (1997)
* "Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie" (1998)
* "Return of Saturn" (2000)
* "Limited Edition" - Judith Owen (2000), later released independently
* "Bliss 66 - Trip to the 13th" (2001)
* "The One" (2001)
* "Everyday" (2001)
* "Stripped" (2002)
* " To Whom It May Concern" (2003) Lisa Marie Presley
* "Pearl Days" (2004)
* "Jagged Little Pill Acoustic" (2005)
* "Stories of a Stranger" (2005)
* "Anastacia" (2004)
* "All I Need"
* "Lighting Up The Night"
* "Let Love In" (2006)
* "Testify" (2006)
* "Dark Road" (2007)
* "Slow Motion Addict" (2007)
* "Inside Out" (2007)
* "Songs of Mass Destruction" (2007)
* "Who's Your Momma" (2007)
* "A Hero Comes Home" (2007)
* "I Stand" (2008)
* "Natalia Lesz" (2008) Poland
* "Dancing" (2008)


Ballard wrote the screenplay for " [ Clubland] ," an ill-received music-driven film about an aspiring musician in Los Angeles. He has written songs in half-a-dozen films including "The Slugger’s Wife", "Navy Seals", and "Batman: Mask of the Phantasm".

External links

* [ Video Interview With Glen Ballard]

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