Tom Whitlock, lyricist behind Top Gun hits “Take My Breath Away” and “Danger Zone,” died at 68 on Saturday (Feb. 18).
The Oscar-winning songwriter died at a memory care facility in Tennessee, a spokesperson at the Gorman-Scharpf Funeral Home in his native Springfield, Mo., confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter. Whitlock’s death comes after a battle with Alzheimer’s disease, friends of his confirmed to the Springfield News Leader.
Whitlock’s “Take My Breath Away” and “Danger Zone” were written in collaboration with Italian disco pioneer Giorgio Moroder. The pair forged a relationship after Whitlock fixed the composer’s Ferrari, and they entered a working relationship shortly after.
“Danger Zone,” performed by Kenny Loggins, was the first single from the Top Gun soundtrack to be released. The track — which was featured in the movie’s opening scene — peaked at No. 2 and spent 21 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100. “Take My Breath Away,” performed by Berlin, crowned the Hot 100 following the soundtrack’s release; the track also spent a total of 21 weeks on the all-genre tally. “Take My Breath Away” won two major awards in 1987: the Academy Award and Golden Globe for best original song.
Whitlock worked alongside Moroder for the Beverly Hills Cop II, Rambo III, As Tears Go By and Let It Ride movie soundtracks. The pair additionally co-wrote “Hand in Hand,” the theme song for the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul and “To Be Number One,” the theme song for the 1990 FIFA World Cup. ASCAP has Whitlock registered for more than 100 songs performed by Diana Ross, Ray Charles, Teddy Pendergrass, Bonnie Tyler and more.
Whitlock is survived by his sister, Mary Whitlock Schweitzer; his former wife, Hollie Whitlock; and her daughter, Yohanna Sherman.