He co-wrote Kiss’ “I Was Made for Lovin’ You,” and Desmond Child, in turn, was made for writing incredibly catchy rock songs. After crossing paths with Paul Stanley and helping make Kiss’ disco-inspired smash, he’d soon team up with Bon Jovi, Aerosmith and Ratt to craft some of the biggest rock hits of the ’80s.
Child told the Story Behind the Song to Bart Herbison of Nashville Songwriters Association International.
Bart Herbison: Paul Stanley and you wrote (“I Was Made for Lovin’ You”) for Kiss, or it ended up getting recorded by Kiss.
Desmond Child: In the 1970s, I had my first band called Desmond Child and Rouge, and I sang with three beautiful women, and we played all the little clubs in New York like Reno Sweeney, Tracks, The Bottom Line, and Paul Stanley used to come and hang out with us backstage. I didn’t even know that much about Kiss. I thought Kiss was for like little kids.
DC: And he said, “Let’s try writing a song for Kiss.” And a few months later I’m hearing the song we wrote on the radio. I didn’t even know it was out, and it became No. 1 in 23 countries within weeks.
BH: I’m a bit of a Kiss fan. That’s absolutely my favorite Kiss song. Urban legend says you set out to write a disco song. True or no?
DC: That’s not really how it was, because in those days I was trying to combine dance music, R&B with rock and kind of singer-songwriter storytelling to create something different. I knew that dance clubs were really making it really big all over, all these huge gay dance clubs, and I said, “Come on, let’s try to do something with a dance beat, but let’s put heavy rock guitars on it.”
So that was the innovation that I hoodwinked Paul into. Gene (Simmons) always hated it from beginning to end. Hated, hated, hated.
BH: Until he cashed the checks from live performances.
DC: I mean, just last year we had a movie come out called “Why Him,” and that song was like all over it. So, I think maybe he’s kind of resolved himself to the fact that it’s probably one of their biggest hits of all time.
BH: Desmond, there were songwriters who weren’t in the band that wrote a song with the band, but not so much in those days. And right after this, I think, Bon Jovi’s people hear about the success that you’d had with Paul and you start getting the call from rock bands (who say), “Why not bring in this craftsman that knows what they’re doing?” That really started a wave.
DC: Well, I owe a lot to Paul Stanley because he gave my number to Jon Bon Jovi. Bon Jovi was the opening act for Kiss in Europe. They were still a very young band, and Paul said, “You know, you should try writing a song with Desmond,” and so I get this call and I go out to New Jersey, to this house where Richie Sambora still lived at home with his parents.
… From the minute that I had this hit with Kiss my whole life changed. And in a way I carved out a career that no one else had, because in the old days, you know, bands were forbidden to write with outside writers. … I started going from Kiss to Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, Ratt. I became the kind of silent member for all these bands for the period of time where we were writing for that album.
BH: Do you remember the day you wrote the song with Paul? What was that like?
DC: I went to a Kiss rehearsal in New York City, and they had this huge soundstage, with mountains of Marshall amps and all the guitars and everything. They were getting ready for a big tour, and there was a beautiful grand piano off to the side, and they took a lunch break. Paul and I went over to the piano, and I had this little bit of a start, which were the chords and the melody to the verse. … It was very theatrical, and the line “I was made for you girl, you were made for me, and I was made for you” came out of that session. Then Paul went into the studio, and along with their producer Vini Poncia, they just built on that. They kind of revved up the chorus, which is the signature part of the song, so I can’t take credit for that.
BH: But you were there all the way. It’s a hell of a song. …
DC: Well, it’s one of those special songs, and it was destiny for me. Paul helped me to launch everything good that happened to me after that.