Jack Tempchin will be in very elite company when he is inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in June in New York City. The other 2019 inductees — all of whom were announced Saturday morning — include Cat Stevens, John Prine, Tom T. Hall, Dallas Austin and Missy Elliott, who is the first female hip-hop artist to ever win the prestigious honor.
“I’m flabbergasted,” said the lifelong San Diego resident, who is best known for writing the Eagles’ hit “Peaceful Easy Feeling” and co-writing another Eagles’ classic, “Already Gone.”
“I thought it was a billion to one. I had no idea I had a chance to win, after seeing all the people who are in the Hall of the Fame and the people who were nominated just for this year. I can’t believe it! For one thing, I’m going to get to meet these people (at the induction ceremony) and that will be fantastic. I’m absolutely thrilled just being on the same list as them.”
Just how formidable the competition Tempchin faced may be best illustrated by the 2019 nominees who did not earn enough votes for induction. They include, among others, Mariah Carey, Vince Gill, Jimmy Cliff, Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders, Mike Love of the Beach Boys and the storied songwriting team of Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham.
Altogether, more than two-dozen nominees were on the 2019 Songwriters Hall of Fame ballot. Votes are cast exclusively by professional songwriters, who belong to the organization, including Tempchin. He joined the organization in 2012, never dreaming he’d ever be nominated for induction, let alone be voted into it.
“I found out about two weeks ago and they told me not to tell anybody. I told my wife and son, and that’s it. I didn’t even tell my manager,” Tempchin, 71, said in a Friday phone interview from his Encinitas home.
“Before this, I’d never been nominated for anything. The only award I’ve received was the (2002) San Diego Music Awards’ Lifetime Achievement Award — and that’s not voted on; they just pick somebody.”
The Songwriters Hall of Fame was founded in 1969. Artists become eligible for induction 20 years after the commercial release of a song they wrote or co-wrote.
In a statement released Saturday, Songwriters Hall of Fame Chairman Nile Rodgers said: “The first thing you need to know is it’s about the song, the second thing you need to know is it’s about the song, the third thing you need to know is it’s about the song. That’s true now more than ever.
“But it has always been about the song, so I’m very proud that, in my first year as Chairman of the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame, we are recognizing some of the culturally most important songwriters of all time. The 2019 slate of inductees represents diversity and unity across genres and gender, highlighting our dedicated mission to honor music creators who have enriched our lives.
“These are writers who in their time literally transformed music and helped make what’s happening today possible.”
Tempchin has at least 12 solo albums to his credit, as well as “Funky Kings,” the self-tilted 1976 album by a short-lived country-rock band he founded and co-led. That album included the Tempchin-penned love ballad, “Slow Dancing.” It became a Top 10 U.S. hit in 1977 for Johnny Rivers, under the title "Swayin' to the Music (Slow Dancin')."
But Tempchin’s two biggest credits will likely always be “Peaceful Easy Feeling” and “Already Gone.” Both are featured on the top-selling album of all time, “Eagles: Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975).” He also co-wrote some of Eagles’ co-founder Glenn Frey’s biggest solo hits, including “The One You Love,” “Smuggler’s Blues and “Sexy Girl.”
Tempchin has been working on his latest solo album — tentatively titled “Time of My Life” — in Nashville with Grammy Award-winning producer Gary Nicholson. It mixes new material with at least one previously unheard song Tempchin co-wrote with Frey, who died in 2016.
“The album will be finished at the end of the month. I’m hoping to release it in June, to coincide with going to the Songwriters Hall of Fame inductions,” Tempchin said. While his most recent solo releases have been for Blue Elan, a boutique label, he may be open for another record company to release “Time of My Life,” which features guitar greats John Jorgenson and Dan Dugmore.
Tempchin will attend the June 13 induction ceremony at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City with his wife of 46 years, Sheryl.
In the meanwhile, he is now nearly a month into his new weekly Friday afternoon online concert series, “Jack Tempchin Live on StageIt.com.” San Diego’s Nena Anderson will be his musical guest for the Jan. 18 edition of the show, which airs from Tempchin’s home studio.
“Each episode is only available one time and it’s like going to a live concert, except that it’s on your computer or smartphone,” Tempchin said. “I usually try to do material I haven’t done live before or haven’t recorded before, and try to do different songs each time.”
He chuckled when asked who would induct him at the June ceremony, which typically features a bevy of music stars to honor the honorees.
“I really don’t know how that works,” Tempchin said. “I have no idea what will happen.”
1 p.m.: This story was updated to include a quote from Songwriters Hall of Fame Chairman Nile Rodgers.