Allee Willis

Allee Willis
Birth name Alta Sherral Willis
Born (1947-11-10) November 10, 1947
Occupation(s) Songwriter, multimedia artist, collector
Associated acts Earth, Wind & Fire

Allee Willis (born November 10, 1947) is an American songwriter, artist, set designer, multimedia artist, writer, collector, party thrower, and director. In 1995 Willis was nominated for an Emmy for her #1 hit, "I'll Be There for You", the theme from Friends, one of the best selling television themes of all time. She also co-wrote the Tony-winning Broadway musical, The Color Purple.


In 1985 she won a Grammy for Best Soundtrack for Beverly Hills Cop. Her songs have sold over 50,000,000 records, including "September" and "Boogie Wonderland" by Earth, Wind & Fire, "Neutron Dance" by the Pointer Sisters, "What Have I Done to Deserve This?" by Pet Shop Boys with Dusty Springfield, "I'll Be There For You" (the Friends theme), and "Lead Me On" by Maxine Nightingale. Willis has collaborated with hundreds of leading artists and composers from all fields of music, including Bob Dylan, Patti LaBelle, James Brown, Herbie Hancock, Deniece Williams and Motown legend Lamont Dozier. She co-authored the Broadway musical version of The Color Purple, based on the Pulitzer Prize winning book by Alice Walker and film by Steven Spielberg, which ran on Broadway from 2005-2008, and opened on Broadway again on December 10, 2015 to unanimously rave reviews.

“The D"/ Allee Willis Loves Detroit is a record-video-film project created, authored and directed by Willis to be released in 2016.[1] An homage to her hometown, the song features more people in history than have ever been the original artist on a record and is accompanied by a feature-length documentary about human spirit as seen through the people of Detroit and, as she is untrained in every field she works in, how Willis views her life and career springing from that same spirit.

In September 2009, Willis opened The Allee Willis Museum of Kitsch, a virtual museum and social network at built around Willis' world-renowned collection as well as user submissions that Willis curates.

Willis is also an accomplished artist and designer, selling thousands of paintings, sculptures, ceramics and furniture designs, many with her alter-ego, Bubbles the artist. In 1999, Bubbles and Willis collaborated with Lily Tomlin to build, a non-linear exploration of Tomlin's Tony-winning show, The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe. Willis and Bubbles video, "It's a Woman Thang" was named an Official Honoree in the viral category of the 2008 Webby Awards. As early as 1992, Willis was one of the first pop artists to have a presence in cyberspace, developing willisville, a prototype for a visual collaborative social network and story-driven online world that linked to all traditional pop media and mobile devices. Willis also consulted for various technology and entertainment companies throughout the 1990s including America Online, Microsoft, Silicon Graphics, Fox, Warner Bros., Disney and Intel, who also funded the partial development of willisville. In 1997, she addressed the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts and Intellectual Property regarding artist rights in cyberspace.


Willis grew up in Detroit, Michigan and graduated from Mumford High School; she would later earn a degree in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Willis then made her way to New York and became a copywriter for Columbia and Epic Records; writing liner notes, print ads and radio commercials for the label's female and black acts – many of whom she went on to write songs for. She recorded an album of the first ten songs she ever wrote, Childstar, on Epic Records and was discovered by Bonnie Raitt and Patti LaBelle when they started recording her songs in the late 1970s.

From 1986 to 1988 Willis had her own column in Details Magazine. It was in that magazine that she introduced her proudest musical find, the Del Rubio Triplets, 70-plus year old 'singing' sisters in mini skirts and go-go boots who went on to appear in over 20 network shows and tour around the world.

From 1987 to 1991 Willis directed many music videos including ones for Debbie Harry, The Cars and Heart. She also designed and built the sets for MTV's first music clip show, Just Say Julie.

Willis has collected Atomic 50's, Soul and Kitsch artifacts since the late 1960s and has one of the oldest and most documented collections in the world. Her Kitsch O' The Day blog, started in March 2009, features one item from the collection per day.

Songs written by Allee Willis

Soundtrack filmography

Willis songs often appear in films, occasionally re-recorded by a member of the cast.

Partial listing:

Written by: Allee Willis
Appears in: Happy Feet (2006)
Lyrics Performed by: Brittany Murphy
Published by: Atlantic/WEA
Written by: Allee Willis
Performed by: Earth, Wind & Fire
Appears in: Caddyshack (1980) Distributed by Warner Brothers (US)
Appears in: The Intouchables (2012) Distributed by The Weinstein Company (US)
Appears in: Madagascar (2005)
Written by: Allee Willis
Performed by: Earth, Wind & Fire
Appears in: The Intouchables (2012) Distributed by The Weinstein Company (US)
Appears in: Babel (2006)
Appears in: Night at the Museum (2006)
Appears in: The Ringer (2005)
Appears in: Get Over It! (2001)
Written by: Allee Willis
Performed by: Earth, Wind & Fire
Appears in: Drumline (2002)
Written by: Allee Willis
Performed by: Fishbone
Appears in: High Fidelity (2000)
Written by: Allee Willis
Performed by: Taylor Dayne
Appears in: Flawless (1999)
Lyrics: Allee Willis
Appears in: Futurama TV Series (1999)
Written by: Allee Willis
Performed by: Joe Esposito
Appears in: The Karate Kid (1984)
Written by: Allee Willis
Performed by: Nona Hendryx
Appears in: Coming to America (1988)
Written by: Allee Willis
Performed by: Boy George
Appears in: Hiding Out aka Adult Education (US) (1987)
Written by: Allee Willis
Performed by: Pointer Sisters
Appears in: Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
Written by: Allee Willis
Performed by: Patti LaBelle
Appears in: Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
Appears in: Chicken Little (2005)
Music and lyrics written by: Allee Willis
Performed by: Bette Midler
Appears in: Jinxed! (1983)
Music and lyrics written by: Allee Willis
Performed by: Julie Budd
Appears in: The Devil and Max Devlin 1981)


  1. "Allee Willis Pens Love Song to Detroit". Detroit Metro Times. Retrieved 2015-08-20.

External links

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