Britten is a native of Manchester, but began writing for the Adelaide, Australia band The Twilights, a popular 1960s band for which he played lead guitar. At times he co-wrote with Glenn Shorrock and Peter Brideoake. He also recorded a single under his own name, "2000 Weeks" / "Bargain Day" (1969).
Britten was a band member of Quartet with Kevin Peek, Alan Tarney and Trevor Spencer who recorded one album with Decca Records in the UK, which remains unreleased. One single was issued in 1969 on Decca in the UK and Australia and London in the US: "Now" / "Will My Lady Come" (Decca UK-F12974, Aust Y-8977, US London LON 1031) and a second single in the UK only in 1970 "Joseph" / "Mama Where Did You Fail" (Decca F13072).
After the Twilights broke up, he returned to England and moved to London, where he did session work. Britten's multi layered guitars featured on Alvin Stardust's 1973 hit "My Coo Ca Choo". In 1973 he was part of Cliff Richard's Eurovision Song Contest 1973 entry and, along with John Farrar, Alan Tarney and Trevor Spencer, submitted six songs; of which "Power to All Our Friends" was chosen and came third. After a lean charting period for Cliff Richard, Britten gave him "Devil Woman" and, in 1976, it became Richard's first top 10 in the UK for three years (and his first top 10 hit in the US). He was a guitarist in Richard's band for many years and was the co-producer and main songwriter for Richard's 1979 album Rock 'n' Roll Juvenile, which reached No. 3 in the UK Album Chart. He wrote and co-wrote with B. A. Robertson 10 of the 12 songs, of which "Carrie" reached No. 4 in the UK Singles Chart.
In the early 1980s, Britten's psychedelic rock song, "9.50", originally a hit for The Twilights, was revived by Australia's Divinyls as a b-side to their 1984 single, "Good Die Young".
With Graham Lyle, Britten also wrote "What's Love Got to Do with It" and this became Tina Turner's million selling hit. "What's Love Got to Do with It" (1984), reached No. 3 in the UK Singles Chart and No. 1 in the US Billboard Hot 100, and won Britten and Lyle the Grammy Award for Song of the Year in 1985. It also won the Grammy Award for Record of the Year which went to Tina Turner. Later that year, they co-wrote "We Don't Need Another Hero" for the film Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. Also sung by Tina Turner, the song reached No. 2 in the US and No. 3 in the UK. Britten and Lyle received a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Original Song in 1986. It also earned Turner a 1986 Grammy nomination for best female pop vocal performance. He also acted as a record producer for Turner.
Britten co-wrote "Just Good Friends" for Michael Jackson's Bad album. Britten has also penned songs for Olivia Newton-John, including "Love Make Me Strong" (1981) and "Toughen Up" with Graham Lyle (1985). He has also written for Meat Loaf, Melissa Manchester, Bonnie Raitt, and Hank Marvin. Britten continues to compose from his home base in rural England, but has returned to Australia on occasion, including the Twilights' reunion for the Long Way to the Top concert tour.
In 2002, the song "Rain, Tax (It's Inevitable)", co-written by Britten and Charlie Dore, appeared on Celine Dion's album A New Day Has Come.
Britten presently has a home in Richmond, London, and a home recording studio called "State of the Ark".
Britten's work has appeared in the soundtracks to the following films:The Pirate Movie – 1982
The Jewel of the Nile – 1985
9½ Weeks – 1986
The Taking of Beverly Hills – 1991
What's Love Got to Do with It – 1993