December 26, 2019
The songwriter behind the theme for the TV sitcom Friends and hits for Earth, Wind & Fire and the Pet Shop BoysAmong the many enduring hits penned by the songwriter Allee Willis, who has died aged 72 after suffering a cardiac arrest, her song I’ll Be There for You may be the most ubiquitous. Performed by the Rembrandts, it was the instantly grabbing theme from the TV sitcom Friends during the show’s 10-year run from 1994. It also charted around the word, reaching 17 on the US Billboard chart, peaking at 3 in the UK and spending five weeks at No 1 in Canada. In 1995 it brought Willis an Emmy nomination.
Allee Willis obituary
But this was just one of the household-name tunes to flow from her pen. In the late 1970s, she struck up a priceless professional rapport with Earth, Wind & Fire, co-writing the indelible funk singalong September (1978), which reached the US No 8 and UK No 3, and became an all-time party classic. She also co-wrote EW&F’s smash from the following year, Boogie Wonderland (US No 6, UK No 4). Of September, Willis later commented: “I literally have never been to a wedding, a bar mitzvah, anything, where I have not heard that song play. So I know it’s carrying on and doing what it was meant to do.” She credited EW&F’s leader, Maurice White, for teaching her a vital songwriting rule – “never let the lyric get in the way of the groove”.
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