Songwriter Spotlight: John Capek

John Capek has achieved international acclaim as an award winning composer, songwriter, keyboard player, producer, arranger and scorer for feature films and television.

Rod Stewart leads the list of popular music icons who have recorded Capek compositions. Others include Diana Ross, Joe Cocker, Cher, Toto, Chicago, Olivia Newton John, Little River Band, Heart, Manhattan Transfer, Bonnie Raitt and Amanda Marshall.

John Capek’s most performed award winning songs include: “Rhythm of My Heart”,”This”,”Soul on Soul” and “Carmelia.” Capek’s most performed productions include Dan Hill’s Billboard hit duet with Vonda Sheppard, “Can’t We Try” as well as work with Ken Tobias, Gene McLellan, Good Brothers and Downchild.

As a keyboard player, John has recorded with Diana Ross, Olivia Newton John, Stan Rogers, Ian Thomas, Marc Jordan, Dan Hill, Kermit, The Chipmunks, The Simpsons and countless other international performers.

“I've been a fan of John's music for many years. He's one of the deepest, most talented and soulful writers I know and I find myself listening to his albums for inspiration and pleasure all the time.”

– Bonnie Raitt


Rod Stewart; Cher; Bonnie Raitt; Joe Cocker; Chicago; Toto; Diana Ross; Heart; Manhattan Transfer; Olivia Newton-John; Amanda Marshal; Little River Band; John Farnham; Daryl Braithwaite; Patty Austin; Sheena Easton


Supertramp; Bonnie Raitt; Alvin & Gene Autry & Kenny G; Bart Simpson; Carly Simon; Kenny Loggins; Little River Band; Chicago; Air Supply; Diana Ross; Pointer Sisters; Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles; Timothy B Schmidt (Eagles); Kermit; Dan Hill


A Perfect Storm; Blown Away; Cocktail; Youngblood; Boulevard Of Broken Dreams; Heaven Tonight; What The Moon Saw; Exchange Lifeguards; The Silencer; Loch Ness

  • John’s song “Rhythm of My Heart” was the first single on Rod Stewart’s Vagabond Heart album with multi platinum sales worldwide and gaining top chart and airplay success.
  • Stewart’s recent Spanner in the Works album contained the single “This.”
  • Rod Stewart”S album Human contains two Capek songs including the single “Soul on Soul.”
  • Joe Cocker’s recent multiplatinum album was top five on the Euro charts containing the single “Take Me Home.”
  • John’s solo album Indaba was released to Critical Acclaim.
  • Cher’s Living Proof includes “Love So High.”
  • The Alice Band (songs & production) BBC-2 radio pick of the week.
  • Capek was a Mercury prize winner for the Helicopter Girl album for Instant Karma, UK.
  • Black Milk album was on the TOP 10 IN PRAGUE with PLATINUM SALES
  • Helena Vodrackova was on the TOP 10 IN PRAGUE with PLATINUM SALES

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How long have you been writing?

I was always a bit dyslexic when it came to sight-treading music. Never quite made the eye-hand connection. So when my father sent me for piano lessons at age three, I started making stuff up to compensate. I guess I have always been making up music for almost as long as I could talk.

Tell us about the first song you wrote and what inspired you to start writing?

Because I have been creating music for almost as long as I could talk, music is my primary language. If you were to ask me how I’m feeling today, I could express my answer much better on a piano than I could in words. Music is my main language.

Who are your biggest influences?

Little Richard, Pablo Picasso, Al Green, Marc Rothko, Lowell George, Frank Lloyd Wright, Arif Mardin, Henry Miller, Bob Dylan, Humberto Eco, Mahalia Jackson, Jose Saramago, Oscar Levant, Emile Zola, Jelly Roll Morton, Franz Kafka, Fred Astaire, Lenny Bruce

What was your first big break?

When I got my first writing deal with Welk Music way back last century the big cuts to get were Kenny Rogers and Ann Murray. I’m still waiting for that big Kenny Rogers cut. What actually got my first real action was my rejection of “in the box’ or “out of the box” rules. I decided to defy the box, or even deny that one ever existed.  The result was a song called “Pieces of Ice” which became a Billboard top forty pop hit for Diana Ross. The highly produced video was recently re-released and is still around

How long did it take to get your first publishing deal and how did you get it?

In addition to songwriting, I have primarily been a piano player and producer. My piano playing opened many doors for me and I became a busy studio musician.  One of the jobs of a studio musician is to improvise or come up with melodic hooks. I was and still am particularly good at doing that. A publisher heard my playing and set me up with a lyricist. Songs that got cut came out of that first ever songwriting session.

Where are you currently writing?

Into the wind. The current culture seems to be bound by an extremely restrictive box. The cycle will change. In fact I am writing a lot, focusing on new artist development.  A recent session with Australian guitar virtuoso Joe Robinson has been the most fun of recent sessions.

Do you believe you need a publishing deal to get a major cut?

Yes. Partnerships are what it’s all about.

What was your first major cut and how did it come about?

My first major cut was a song called “Pieces of Ice” which became a Billboard top forty pop hit for Diana Ross. The cut came as a result of a relationship that my songwriting collaborator had with Diana’s producer. He was a fan of our songs. That relationship began through a publisher’s introduction.

Is it true that after you get your first cut it is easier to get other cuts?

Absolutely not. It’s always like pulling teeth. Try getting a script read or a song listened to when there are 10,000 competitors out there who yell louder than you, or like to play golf.

What do you believe is the secret to getting your songs recorded by major artists?

I could say, networking and golfing….I have nothing in particular against golf….just never found the time.

In fact I believe that writing an anthem is the secret. By “anthem”, I mean “Yesterday”, “Crazy”, “On the Road Again” or “Stairway to Heaven”.

What do you think about the music industry, how it's changing and where it's headed?

Illegal downloading has created a vicious cycle. Any creative work of lasting quality takes time and attention to detail. I don’t believe that spontaneity has any great value. Most overnight successes actually relate to decades of work to create their overnight success. Artists have to eat, pay rent and survive.

When you take away financial incentive, then it becomes difficult and perhaps impossible to create great lasting art. The financial incentive has almost disappeared from the songwriting profession. Therefore it could be said that no great lasting anthems are being written. That has a profound effect on society and culture. When the Chilean miners were first seen on TV, trapped half a mile underground, they sang a song, an anthem, their National anthem. The use of music and song has deep implications far beyond the superficial.

What is one of your greatest moments in your career?

It happens almost every day. It is always a great moment, when I turn on my car radio, walk through a supermarket or watch a movie and hear one of my songs.

What is one of your worse moments in your career?

Getting fired from a movie score because the star of the movie had a boyfriend who played guitar. He got the score. The movie was never released.

What do you think of writers nights, and do you think they benefit the writers? In what ways?

Always great! Any form of networking is always beneficial.

Do you co-write with other writers and how do you choose who you write with?

Co-writing is like dating. Mostly the chemistry is not there, but sometimes it’s magic. Elton and Bernie, Lennon and McCartney created magic.

Do you co-writer with aspiring writers?

I do write with signed artists who write, however collaborating with an aspiring writer can be a challenge.

Have you ever had writers block, and if so, how did you get over it?

Never. I can write a song in my sleep and often do.

Do you think you need to have a fully produced demo of your song to be able to pitch it, or can you use a work tape (Guitar-vocal)?

My personal experience is that in today’s technological culture, we write the recording. That means a fully produced master. There is no such thing as a demo.

What “tips” do you have for writers when they are going to a meeting with a publisher or someone in the business?

Bring examples of established ongoing success. Bring finished product or cuts. Artist and writer development does not seem to exist any more in my experience.

Is there anything else you would like to say to aspiring writers that you feel will help them?

The current culture is artist based, not song based. Focus on an artist or your own artist career.

Alternatively, write an anthem.

Are you playing anywhere or have any current projects you would like to tell us about?  Do you have CD's for sale?

I have never been a “singer/songwriter”. I am often introduced at various events, as singer/songwriter, John Capek.  I am not. There is an important distinction between a songwriter and a singer/songwriter.

A singer/songwriter performs. A songwriter, like myself, does not perform.

I have spent my professional life sitting in a room with a keyboard and a computer making up music that I have never ever performed.

The culture has changed. Kicking and screaming and protesting, I am now out there performing my tunes. Please don’t throw any rotten tomatoes!!

My book: How To Write A Hit Song Without Really Trying is available from my website.