Making a Scene Presents an Interview with John DeNicola
An Academy Award-winning songwriter, John DeNicola has channeled his lifelong passion for music into a remarkably vibrant career in the recording industry. His songwriting successes include co-writing the hit singles “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” and “Hungry Eyes” for the Dirty Dancing soundtrack, playing a key role in the movie’s emergence as an enduring cultural phenomenon. As founder of the indie label Omad Records, he’s discovered and fostered the careers of a diverse range of musical acts (including Kara’s Flowers, a band now known as Maroon 5). Also an accomplished producer, DeNicola has brought his finely honed instincts and vast experience to collaborations with legendary artists from all corners of the music world.
Originally from Long Island, DeNicola got his start in music by playing bass in a local band in junior high. He later landed a deal with Motown Records as the bassist for jazz fusion group Flight, whose song “Face to Face” was sampled in Erykah Badu’s 2003 hit “Back in the Day (Puff).” After a stint in playing bass with major pop artists like Paul Young and Corey Hart, DeNicola shifted his focus to songwriting and production. Early on in that chapter of his career, DeNicola teamed up with fellow musician Franke Previte and co-wrote “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” and “Hungry Eyes,” then submitted both for consideration for the Dirty Dancing soundtrack. Out of more than 150 songs, the former was selected for the movie’s iconic finale, and soon cemented its place in cinematic history earning DeNicola an Oscar and a Golden Globe Award (as well as a Grammy Award nomination), “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” quickly shot to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Meanwhile, “Hungry Eyes” reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100, with the Dirty Dancing soundtrack holding at #1 on the Billboard 200 album sales chart for a staggering 18 weeks—and eventually selling more than 60 million copies worldwide. In 1988, DeNicola received the distinguished honor of being named ASCAP Songwriter of the Year.
In the wake of Dirty Dancing’s smash success, DeNicola moved forward with his songwriting career, penning tracks for such artists as Eddie Money, John Waite, and Parliament-Funkadelic’s Bernie Worrell. In 1995 he founded Omad Records, with a mission of helping passionately authentic and steadfastly original artists to fully realize their musical vision. Within a year the label had signed Kara’s Flowers, (later Maroon 5) as well as made its inaugural release with The Sighs’ acclaimed sophomore effort Different.
Based in New York City, DeNicola produces most of the albums in the Omad Records catalogue, such as the critically praised 2015 debut from singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Arwen Lewis (daughter of Moby Grape’s Peter Lewis) , Peter Lewis (founder of Moby Grape), Rust Dust “Diviners and Shivs” and The Sighs New release “Wait On Another Day”. Over the past decade, he’s also served as a composer for the annual Shakespeare in the Valley program at the West Kortright Centre (an arts and community center located in the northern Catskills). In addition, DeNicola released his debut solo album “ The Why Because” in 2019 featuring his version of “Hungry Eyes” and “Time Of My Life” and is following up that record with “She Said” which will be released on November 5, 2021.