Peter Zizzo is an Emmy winning producer/songwriter whose songs have been recorded over the years by artists like Celine Dion, Jennifer Lopez, Howie Day, Donna Summer and many others. One of his more recent productions is the outstanding album Water in a Whale by singer/songwriter Jillette Johnson, which was released in 2013 on Wind-Up Records. Zizzo was also instrumental in the early artist development of Vanessa Carlton and Avril Lavigne.
I met Peter twenty years ago when I was managing singer Billy Porter. During the intervening years I have learned so much from Peter—he has some of the best pop ears I’ve ever encountered—so it was a particular pleasure to feature him in this installment of “20 Questions.” [My personal comments are in brackets.]
1. Do you remember the first song you ever wrote?
“Blackjack.” I was 12. It was a rocker; really just a hook I walked around singing with my guitar. I just liked the word and thought it sounded edgy and serious—had no idea what it was.
2. Was there a defining moment you knew you’d broken through or “made it?”
Seeing my song “Whispers” by Corina, debut on the Billboard Hot 100.
3. What was the first time you heard one of your songs on the radio?
It was that same song! Hot 97 one sunny afternoon. I knew they’d added it and waited by my radio all day. Absolutely stopped time for me when it came on.
4. What’s the first record you ever bought?
Elton John’s Rock of the Westies— “Island Girl!” [#1, 1975]
5. What’s your favorite Burt Bacharach song?
Hard to say. Maybe “Raindrops” or “I Say a Little Prayer.”
[Here is a great vintage clip of "Queen of Soul" Aretha Franklin performing "I Say a Little Prayer" dating from October 1970. Notwithstanding her hat, which looks like nothing as much as a woven silver trashcan from a dowager's bathroom, this performance is perfect in every way.]