Best known as a Nashville-based songwriter -- he's had songs covered by Alabama, George Strait, Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers, and Conway Twitty & Loretta Lynn -- Kerry Chater had two '70s soft rock albums to his name before he settled into a role behind the scenes. Prior to that, he was known as the bassist and live bandleader for Gary Puckett & the Union Gap, getting in at the ground floor when the group formed in 1966. He stayed with Puckett until 1970, when he departed the group in the wake of slowly declining commercial fortunes.
Chater decided to pursue his dream of becoming a writer. He had a few tunes recorded by the Union Gap and that helped him earn a music publishing contract with CBS. He spent some time there and went through Almo-Irving Publishing before settling at Chappell Music in 1976. That year, he cut some songwriting deals that wound up catching the attention of Steve Barri at ABC, who signed the songwriter to a recording contract after the A&R man landed at Warner in 1977. That was the year Chater released his debut album, Part Time Love, which was produced by Barri and Michael Omartian; the latter also did the arrangements on the record. Part Time Love didn't do much on the charts, nor did its 1978 successor, Love on a Shoestring, but in 1979 he landed his first big hit as a writer when Jennifer Warnes took "I Know a Heartache When I See One" into the Top Ten.
After that, he had steady success on the country charts for the next decade or so, highlighted by Lee Greenwood's 1983 single "I.O.U." (nominated for a Grammy for Best Country Song), a pair of number one country singles in 1983 (George Strait's "You Look So Good in Love," Reba McEntire's "You're the First Time I've Thought About Leaving"), Michael Martin Murphey's 1984 hit "What She Wants," and Alabama's chart-topper "If I Had You" in 1989. Although he never had that run of success again, Chater continued to work in Nashville -- his last charting single of note was Jessica Andrews' "You Go First (Do You Wanna Kiss)" in 1989 -- and also wrote thriller novels with his wife, Lynn Gillespie-Chater. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi