December 25, 2019 – Many in the music world are shocked today with news of Allee Willis’ passing. She really was an amazing woman. We just released a video a few days away featuring Toto’s Steve Porcaro talking about co-writing with her. We’ll have a link to that clip in the description of this video.
Let me just tell you about a few tunes that this Grammy winner helped create. As mentioned off the top she co-wrote “September,” “Boogie Wonderland” and “In the Stone” for Earth, Wind and Fire and many others for that band. There was also “Neutron Dance” for the Pointer Sisters, and the #2 hit “What Have I Done to Deserve This?” for the Pet Shop Boys and Dusty Springfield and the “Friends” theme, “I’ll Be there For You” recorded by the Rembrandts. Also the theme to the “Karate Kid”, “You’re the Best” sung by Joe Esposito. She once said, “I, very thankfully, have a few songs that will not go away.” She also wrote songs Ray Charles, Sister Sledge, Cyndi Lauper, Nona Hendryx, Taylor Dayne and Toni Basil.
Willis grew up in Detroit and was first drawn to the songs of Motown. She told the New York Times, “A lot of times I would learn a bass line and then I’d hear the records and I’d go, Oh, that was ‘I Heard It Through the Grapevine.’”
Earlier in her career she was writing advertising and liner notes for Columbia and Epic Records and eventually Bonnie Raitt asked her to collaborate. Willis co-wrote her 1974 song, “Got You On My Mind.”
She won her first Grammy in 1986 for another co-write Patti Labelle’s “Stir It Up” from the soundtrack to Beverly Hills Cop, she was nominated for the Friends theme, she also co-wrote the music for the the musical “The Color Purple” along with Stephen Bray and Brenda Russell. She won another Grammy for that and was nominated for a Tony Award.
She was also inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2018.
Willis was one of a kind and was a well-known collector of kitsch in her vintage 1937 Los Angeles home.
Her publicist said the cause of death was “a cardiac event.” She died on Christmas Eve at 6 PM. She is survived by her partner, Prudence Fenton. – by John Beaudin
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John Beaudin has been in major market radio (Edmonton, Vancouver & Calgary) for 35 years and a music journalist since 1989. He graduated from Broadcasting school as a newsman so he would have the skills to write about the artists that inspired him since he bought his first Elton John album as a teen. In the ’80s Beaudin was the host of the syndicated radio show “The Cross Canada Report” which had two versions (Rock and A/C). Beaudin was also asked to be a judge at the Juno Awards (Canada’s answer to the Grammys) Twice. He has anchored every position in radio including morning and afternoon drive and was a Program and Music Director for The Breeze and California 103 in Calgary. He currently hosts the popular Lovesongs at QM-FM in Vancouver and on iHeartRadio.
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