Allee Willis, ‘Friends’ Theme Songwriter Passes Away At 72
“I’ll be there for you.” the theme song of the world-famous 10-year-long American sitcom, F.R.I.E.N.D.S was written by Allee Willis who passed away on December 24. Prudence Fenton, her partner, posted a picture with Willis and captioned it, “Rest In Boogie Wonderland Nov 10, 1947-December 24, 2019.”
- Allee Willis passed away on Tuesday at the age of 72
- She learned music by listening to the rhythms coming through the walls of Motown Studios
- Allee has won two Grammy awards in her career
- She was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2018
Allee Willis is credited for Earth, Wind and Fire’s “Boogie Wonderland” and “September,” apart from the theme song of the ‘90s sitcom. She won many awards and accolades for writing pieces throughout her career. She was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2018. As per the reports by the New York Times, she died of a “cardiac event” at the age of 72.
She won a Grammy for the Best Soundtrack for the song, “Beverly Hills Cop” in 1986. She won another Grammy for the Best Musical Theatre Album for “The Colour Purple,” which was a Grammy and Tony nomination in 2006 as well.
Her Early Life
Allee was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. She was journalism major and a sorority member as she attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Willis never read music or learned an instrument; she used to just listen through the walls of Mowtown Records. She would have her parents drive to the studios as a kid. “And I would sit in the car and pray someone would like, walk in, but once I got my license, I would park the car, sit on the lawn, and you could hear the music coming through the walls,” she said in a 2017 interview for the City of Detroit. “I just remember thinking I was the luckiest person in the world to be within feet of where Motown was happening.”
After college, she worked as a secretary at Columbia Records in New York. Her first album was Childstar. As it turned out, it was her only album as she stopped performing because she didn’t enjoy it. After this, she worked at a comedy club and hung posters for four years. In 1978, the struggling songwriter got a call from Maurice White of the band Earth, Wind & Fire, for help in writing their next album. “It was the most surreal moment of my life,” Willis told the Library of Congress. She described that first moment of meeting White and the band for NPR in 2014.
Willis wrote hundreds of other songs, including pieces for Ray Charles, Sister Sledge and Cyndi Lauper.
“As I open the door, they had just written the intro to ‘September.’ And I just thought, ‘Dear God, let this be what they want me to write!’ Cause it was obviously the happiest-sounding song in the world,” Willis said. She then co-wrote the band’s greatest work, “Boogie Wonderland.” She has learned the greatest lesson from White, “Never let the lyric get in the way of the groove.” More so, Willis wrote hundreds of other songs, including pieces for Ray Charles, Sister Sledge and Cyndi Lauper.
Awards and Accolades
She won a Grammy for the Best Soundtrack for the song, “Beverly Hills Cop” in 1986. She won another Grammy for the Best Musical Theatre Album for “The Colour Purple,” which was a Grammy and Tony nomination in 2006 as well. In addition to this, the F.R.I.E.N.D.S theme song was an Emmy Award nomination in 1995.
Saavriti is an intern with SheThePeople.TV