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The Allee Willis Song That Made Fans Light Up Was 'September'

Grammy winner also wrote 'Friends' theme
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 25, 2019 10:32 AM CST
Allee Willis appears onstage during the 49th annual Songwriters Hall of Fame Induction and Awards gala in New York in 2018.   (Photo by Brad Barket/Invision/AP)

(Newser) – Allee Willis wrote hundreds of songs, including the Pointer Sisters hit "Neutron Dance" and the ubiquitous Friends theme, "I'll Be There for You" by the Rembrandts. But it was "September" by Earth, Wind & Fire, that might have brought the most joy. Willis once said "September" is "still that song that when people found out I'd written that, they just go, 'Oh my God,' and then tell me in some form how happy that song makes them every time they hear it." Willis has died of a heart attack, the Guardian reports, at age 72. She won two Grammys: one for the score to the Broadway musical The Color Purple, and one for contributions to the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack. Recordings of her songs have sold 60 million copies.

Taylor Swift's cover of "September" brought Willis less joy. She found it "as lethargic as a drunk turtle dozing under a sunflower after ingesting a bottle of Valium." The Friends theme was "the whitest song I ever wrote," Willis said. She worked with David Crane and Marta Kauffman, the show's creators, on the song, and the Rembrandts wrote some more in making the hit single. Willis' other collaborations included projects with Herbie Hancock, James Brown, rapper Big Sean and Bob Dylan. The Detroit native also was an artist, online pioneer and collector, the Washington Post pointed out in a 2015 profile, whose Los Angeles home was known as Museum of Kitsch. Her will, Willis said, calls for preserving her home as is. "Someday, someone will happen upon all this stuff and say, 'Oh, this chick had it together,'" Willis said. "Maybe people will finally know who I am." (Read more obituary stories.)

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