from New York whose given name was James Wesley Voight. His brothers are Barry Voight, a geologist, and Jon Voight,
an actor, and his niece is actress Angelina Jolie.
Chip grew up
listening to WWVA-AM, a country station in Wheeling, West Virginia, which
captured his imagination early on and influenced his eventual career choice
of songwriter. While still in
high school, he was the front-man for a band called Town and Country
Brothers, who are noteworthy for having been the only white band on the
otherwise all-black King label.
The band broke
up and Chip pursued one of his other loves: golf. He was a top-ranked player as a
teenager and enjoyed moderate success on the professional circuit until
injuring his wrist. It
must not have been his writing hand, however, because he started cranking
out songs with a rapidity that endeared him to the Brill Building and CBS
signed on at Warner Bros. and managed to crack the top 100 in 1961 with
“Here I Am”. It
turned out to be a prophetic statement. Chet Atkins heard some of his stuff
and helped him break into Nashville when Bobby Bare recorded one of his
songs, “Just a Little Bit Later on Down the Line”. Chip’s composing knew no
genre, however. One of his
biggest hits is the frat-rock staple, “Wild Thing”, made famous
by The Troggs in 1966. In 1968, Merilee Rush hit it big
with his “Angel of the Morning”, later covered by Juice
Not content to
just be a hit-maker for other artists, Chip struck out on his own in the
‘70s with a series of albums, most notably 1973’s Last Chance, which Rolling Stone lauded as one of the
top C&W records of the year.
On 19th September 1974, he appeared on The Mike Douglas Show. He also made a foray into acting,
appearing in Pittsville – Ein Safe voll Blut and Bilans kwartalny, in 1974 and 1975, respectively. In 1980, he appeared in the
critically acclaimed Melvin and
to be going well, but Chip was getting burnt out, specifically on the
incestuous nature of the Nashville music scene. He decided to hang up his guitar and
pursue another one of his long-time passions: Gambling. Ever since the 1960s, he had always
been a bit of a savant when it came to the law of permutations, particularly
as they applied to blackjack.
Chip was extremely successful—too successful, in fact—as
his reputation spread, he found himself locked out of most of the big
casinos in Atlantic City, Europe, and Las Vegas.
the world of horse racing was not quite so finicky. Chip partnered up with Ernie Dahlman and they became two of the most reputable
handicappers in the Northeast United States. These guys were high rollers,
frequently picking as many as six consecutive winners on a given day.
could have retired on his winnings, but in 1993, he was lured back onto the
stage by fellow composers Rosie Flores, Don Henry, Darden Smith, and Midge Ure. The
tour, coupled with Bonnie Raitt’s cover of
one of his songs, “Poppa Come Quick”, re-ignited his passion
for making music.
In 1995, when
his mom was suffering from a terrible illness, he eschewed the race track
in order to be by her side and play his songs for her. All of this led to a renewed belief
in the power of his songs, and he became very prolific, much as he did on
his great run in the ‘70s.
In 1996, he released Hit Man,
a baker’s dozen of his own versions of some of his famous
compositions. The highly
autobiographical album, The Living
Room Tapes, was released in 1997.
perhaps his most ambitious project to date, Seven Days in May, a mini-musical of sorts, hit the
shelves. It is the story of a
man who falls for a pregnant woman in a New York bar. The album featured Chip duetting with Guy Clark and Lucinda Williams.
another career-shaping event took place when Chip found himself captivated
by a young violinist named Carrie Rodriguez. He asked her to go on tour with him
in Texas and Europe, where he encouraged her to use her other musical
instrument: Her voice. So enraptured was the audience with
her singing, this opened up a whole new arena for Carrie, who could now be
considered a double threat.
Before long, the two of them were in the studio recording an album
of duets, Let’s Leave This Town. They went on to collaborate again on
Red Dog Tracks and The Trouble with Humans. The two of them continue to record
together and separately.
musician Shaggy inadvertently added a milestone to Chip’s career by
using “Angel in the Morning” in his 2001 hit
“Angel”, making Chip the only living songwriter to have had
hits in five decades. The bass
line of “Angel” was culled from Steve Miller’s “The
Joker”, and Chip and Steve are co-credited on the record, which has
gone platinum several times over.
Now those are what you might call some big winnings.
Nancy Sinatra recordings
It’s Such a Lonely Time of Year (Al Gorgoni/Chip