'SNL' Music Producer Hal Willner Mourned by Questlove, Metallica, Julia Louis-Dreyfus & More

Hal Willner
Clarence Williams/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Hal Willner photographed in 2001.

Legendary Saturday Night Live music producer Hal Willner has died at age 64, possibly from coronavirus complications, and the entertainment community took to social media to pay their respects.

Musician Questlove, comedian and former SNL writer John Mulaney, show writer Paula Pell and more who've worked alongside Willner mourned the loss of a musical savant, source of comedic relief and "the gentlest genius." Mulaney even wrote in the postscript of his tribute: "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."

Aside from his work at the late-night sketch comedy show, starting back in 1981, artists from Bebe Buell to Osaka Popstar's John Cafiero appreciated his wide taste in music as someone who produced albums for Lou Reed and Marianne Faithfull, who was recently hospitalized in London after testing positive for COVID-19.

Scroll through celebrities' reactions to Willner's untimely death below.

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Look. We are where we are. I know it would be CRAZY for me to look at these numbers and not accept that the hundreds of thousand lives that are being ——washed ashore —-that even 10....I mean even 4 of them would be someone that I knew personally. Working at the Tonight Show is so much more than “working a gig”. It’s Entertainment University w all these departments: the Today Show peeps across the street, the MSNBC peeps on 3. The Bravo cats down the hall—-Seth upstairs, the cafeteria fam on 9—-and yeah the sacred SNL (the Ivy League) on 8. I mean as a pop culture junkie of course meeting the writers & the crew that puts the stuff together & producers and etc are like gods to me. Fucking Hal man (I’m sorry I’m venting in real time)——loved Hal man. And not in that “butter up to the music/SNL guy get cool points way” I mean he was the first 30rock legend that just let me NERD OUT like crazy and not even give me ANY indication he is late for a meeting or or the kinda thing that makes people avoid guys like me wanting to know about “how did you guys (at the time he was executive of @DavidSanbornOfficial’s music show back in the mid 90s) —-get Miles Davis to do the show?!” & “was it your idea to do the Leonard Cohen song as a cold open!!?” or all the other questions I hold back from Higgins or (god forbid) Lorne. Dude loved talking about music to me more than I loved ASKING about music (he produced a Neville Brothers album in 89, subsequently had them on SNL —he worked there since 81—which in turn made me fall down a CRAZY Neville associated rabbit hole that led to ANYTHING 6 degrees to them from The Meters to Allen Toussaint to ANYTHING nawlins)—-man his level of organization (he curated WAY more crazy projects that I can count) was staggering man. He always had knowledge to drop and I took it all man. Seriously next to Higbones (Steve Higgins) Hal was the exec at 30 Rock I was so in awe of. I’m so sad about this shit man. So fucking ....just ——);!:&:&!3!&&,&,&884$——this guy man.....this is beyond “all due respect” “rip to a legend” —-May all of his family (personal and professional) find a time of peace and healing and acceptance during this period.

A post shared by Questlove Froman, (@questlove) on

I'm so sad to hear of Hal's passing. He was a great producer and I had the pleasure of working with him on the T.Rex...

Posted by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts on Tuesday, April 7, 2020


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