In a message to Billboard, Williams recounts her collaboration with the Saturday Night Live music producer on West, her eighth studio album release from 2007.
“Hal produced my ‘West’ album and let’s just say those were tumultuous times, for many reasons,” the celebrated country artist recalls. “But Hal hung in there and by the time we were finished I had come to love him dearly.”
West was a success, debuting at No. 14 on the Billboard 200 and the album track “Come On” earned Williams Grammy Award nominations for Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance and Best Rock Song.
“I can say this about Hal, and I think he would love this because I know he was proud of it,” she continues, “Hal had the most incredible black book of artists, actors and comedians ‘cause he knew everyone. And I’m sure everyone in that little black book loved him as much as I did.”
Willner died apparently due to coronavirus complications, according to multiple reports. He was 64.
His work spanned film, TV, live events and recorded music. He famously worked on SNL as a music sketch music producer since 1981 and coordinated a fleeting musical spin-off, Sunday Night (a.k.a. Night Music), which ran from 1988-1990, and is remembered for assembling a string of tribute albums and producing albums for the likes of Lou Reed and Marianne Faithfull.