Saturday Night Live Music Producer Hal Willner Dies After Experiencing Coronavirus-Like Symptoms
Hal Willner was 64
Acclaimed music producer Hal Willner, who famously selected tunes for Saturday Night Live, has died after experiencing coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms.
Willner’s rep Blake Zidell tells PEOPLE that the music producer died on Tuesday at his home in New York. He was 64.
“He had symptoms consistent with COVID-19, though he hadn’t/hasn’t been diagnosed,” Zidell says.
Willner is survived by his wife Sheila Rogers and his son Arlo, 15.
The family has not yet announced memorial plans.
Willner seemingly alluded to falling ill on March 28 when he tweeted, “I always wanted to have a number one — but not this. Pure Arch Oboler with Serling added. In bed on upper west side. H.”
Alongside the tweet, Willner included a map of the coronavirus cases in the U.S. that showed New York with the highest amount.
Just one day later, Willner paid tribute to John Prine, who he said was in critical condition with COVID-19.
“Sending love to John Prine who is in critical condition with COVID-19… John is a music giant. His songs are as good as it gets and he’s a spellbinding performer. Send good thoughts his way. ‘I sound like that old guy down the street that doesn’t chase you out of his apple tree,'” Willner wrote.
Prine also died on Tuesday.
Since his death, a number of stars have mourned him on Twitter including Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
“Absolutely devastated to get this news about my weird and lovely pal, Hal. We are heartbroken. Love, love, love to Sheila and Arlo,” Louis-Dreyfus tweeted.
John Mulaney also paid tribute to Willner tweeting, “Hal I love you. I liked you in my life so much. When I got horrible reviews you sent me a full email of Lou Reed quotes on how to view critics. It meant so much to me. You changed my way of thinking on how to make stuff. You made what you wanted w/ the people you loved. Bye Hal. P.S. You loved life completely and lived it intensely and I know you would find it funny that it took a global pandemic to take you away. I am going to miss you a lot.”
Willner originally joined SNL in 1980 where he coordinated the music for the show’s sketches for 40 years. Willner was also known for organizing tribute albums including the 1989 Stay Awake: Various Interpretations of Music from Vintage Disney Films.
He also produced albums for Lou Reed, Marianne Faithful and Laurie Anderson.
In 2005, Willner won a Grammy for best contemporary jazz album for Unspeakable, which he shared with artist Bill Frisell and engineer Eric Liljestrand.
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