The Saturday Night Live family has lost one of their own.
In the music industry, Willner was best known for producing genre-blending tribute albums, but also worked with everyone from Lou Reed to Marianne Faithfull. He won his GRAMMY in 2004 for Best Contemporary Jazz Album for his work producing Bill Frisell's record, Unspeakable.
Willner was hired as SNL's sketch music producer in 1981 and also worked on Lorne Michael's short-lived musical offshoot, Sunday Night. "In a weird way, I did do everything that I set out to do moving to New York," Willner said in a New York Times profile. "That’s incredible. So what can I possibly complain about?”
Following Willner's death, past and present SNL castmembers took to social media to reflect on his legacy. "RIP HAL WILLNER. An incredible person who so many of us will miss. Love u pal," tweeted Adam Sandler, alongside loving messages from John Mulaney, Seth Meyers and more.
RIP HAL WILLNER. An incredible person who so many of us will miss. Love u pal. pic.twitter.com/SB1G45x0dp— Adam Sandler (@AdamSandler) April 7, 2020
Hal— John Mulaney (@mulaney) April 7, 2020
I love you. I liked you in my life so much. When I got horrible reviews you sent me a full email of Lou Reed quotes on how to view critics. It meant so much to me. You changed my way of thinking on how to make stuff. You made what you wanted w/ the people you loved. Bye Hal pic.twitter.com/wGeaWvEILS
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. I am going to miss you a lot.— John Mulaney (@mulaney) April 7, 2020