Child grew up in Miami Beach, Florida, where his Cuban songwriter mother taught her son to play the piano at an early age. Influenced by Otis Redding and Laura Nyro, he was inspired to start a band in high school called Night Child with singer and guitarist Debra Walls. They disbanded just before they got a record deal, but in 1973 Child moved on to a new group, the R&B-influenced Desmond Child Rouge, with singers Maria Vidal and Diana Grasselli. After developing a loyal following in the New York City club scene, they were signed to Capitol in 1978. Their two albums, both from 1979, were well-received critically, though they failed to find a wider audience and the group disbanded in 1980.
At this point, Child shifted focus to his songwriting career, which he had kickstarted in 1978 by co-writing Kiss' Top Ten hit "I Was Made for Loving You." He continued working with Kiss, later co-writing their hit "Heaven's on Fire," while gaining the attention of other rock bands through his efforts. Teaming up with Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora to write songs for Bon Jovi's 1986 album, Slippery When Wet, Child landed a pair of major worldwide hits in "You Give Love a Bad Name" and "Livin' on a Prayer," which significantly increased his demand as a songsmith for a variety of artists. His successful run continued through the remainder of the '80s and into the '90s with hits for Aerosmith ("Angel," "Dude [Looks Like a Lady]," "Crazy"), Joan Jett the Blackhearts ("I Hate Myself for Loving You"), Michael Bolton ("How Can We Be Lovers?"), and many more, several of which he also produced. Other artists he worked with during this period include Alice Cooper, Roxette, Cher, Chicago, Bonnie Tyler, Ratt, and Ronnie Spector.
Child released his own solo album, Discipline, in 1991 which featured contributions from Burt Bacharach, Richie Sambora, and his former Rouge bandmate Maria Vidal. His production and songwriting work remained steady throughout the decade and in the late '90s he settled down in Miami to begin working with Latin pop star, Ricky Martin. The resulting album, 1999's Livin' la Vida Loca, was a smash success and opened the door for even more production gigs, such as the 2001 smash "Who Let the Dogs Out" by the Baha Men. Firmly established as a top industry songwriter, Child began nurturing a new generation of young pop artists including Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, and Katy Perry, while maintaining creative relationships with Vince Neil, Paul Stanley, Bon Jovi, and the kind of hard rock acts who'd sung his first hits. In 2008, Child was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, formally commemorating his talents.
In 2013, he was responsible for helping found the Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame. A 2019 album, Desmond Child Live, served as his second solo release and included a number of hits he'd written for other acts. Child also announced the completion of a memoir, Livin’ on a Prayer: Big Songs Big Life, with author David Ritz. ~ Timothy Monger & Bradley Torreano, Rovi
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