Hal Willner, Music and SNL Sketch Music Producer, Dies at 64

Hal Willner
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 07: Producer Hal Willner performs at a celebration of the 60th anniversary of Allen Ginsberg's Howl with music, words and funny people at The Ace Hotel Theater on April 7, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Chelsea Lauren/WireImage)

Hal Willner, the music producer known for his offbeat compilation albums, has died at 64 due to complications from coronavirus, according to multiple reports.

Variety was first to report the news of Willner’s death.

Willner was the longtime sketch music producer for Saturday Night Live, having been in the role since 1981.

On March 28, Willner wrote in a tweet that he had contracted in the coronavirus.

Over the years, Willner has worked with a bunch of music legends, including Lou Reed, Lucinda Williams, Marianne Faithfull, Laurie Anderson among others. His tribute compilation albums included a wide array of stars including Deborah Harry to Wynton and Bradford Marsalis, Elvis Costello, Henry Rollins, Dr. John, Leonard Cohen and Chuck D.

In 1988, he put together Stay Awake: Various Interpretations of Music from Vintage Disney Films, which featured the likes of Michael Stipe, Sun Ra, Bonnie Raitt, Tom Waits, Ringo Starr and more who took on traditional Disney songs and spun them their own way.

Most recently, Willner produced a tribute album honoring Marc Bolan and T. Rex that included a number of all-star contributions from U2, Joan Jett, Nick Cave and more. That album has yet to be released.

His film scoring credits include Finding ForesterGangs of New York and Talladega Nights.

Willner’s final tweet was a get-well message sent to John Prine, who is currently hospitalized due to the coronavirus.

Tributes to Willner poured in as news broke:

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