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‘Friends’ and ‘September’ Songwriter Allee Willis Dies at 72

By Max / Published on Thursday, 26 Dec 2019 08:16 AM / No Comments / 373 views

Allee Willis, the prolific songwriter known for penning Friends theme song “I’ll Be There For You” and Earth, Wind & Fire’s “September,” died on Christmas Eve. Willis, known for her colorful personality and love of all things kitsch as much as her songwriting, suffered a cardiac event, according to her publicist.

The Grammy-winner, who was also nominated for an Emmy and a Tony (for co-writing the music for The Color Purple), was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2018. 

“Earth, Wind & Fire was my favorite group in the world, and [I was approached about] writing for a couple of groups [EW&F’s] Verdine [White] was producing. He said, ‘I’m going to tell my brother about you.’ A couple of nights later, the phone rang, and it was Maurice White and it was an amazing conversation. He said, ‘Do you want to write the next Earth, Wind & Fire album with me?’ I went to the studio, and we started working on ‘September’ the very first day. What rhymes with ‘September’? ‘Remember’!,” she told Billboard back in 2018, of writing the iconic song. She also co-wrote the band’s hit, “Boogie Wonderland.” 

EW&Fs Philip Bailey took to Twitter to fete Willis. 

Songwriter Siedah Garrett also posted a treasured memory.

In her 40-year career, Willis also wrote songs for Patti LaBelle (“Stir It Up”), the Pet Shop Boys (“What Have I Done to Deserve This”), the Pointer Sisters (“Neutron Dance”), and many more.  The Pointer Sisters reflected on their work with her on Twitter. 

Most recently, she was collaborating with rapper (and fellow Detroit native) Big Sean, who spent time co-writing with her at her home in Los Angeles this year. She so loved her hometown that in 2013, when the city declared bankruptcy, she co-wrote a song, “The D,” and held a month-long series of singalongs that helped raise money for two arts organizations. 

Other fellow songwriters and artists also weighed in.

The 72-year-old, who was born on Nov. 10, 1947,  is survived by her partner of 27 years, Prudence Fenton. 

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