Music

Cynthia Weil, Songwriter for the Ronettes, Chaka Khan, and the Righteous Brothers, Dies at 82

Cynthia Weil

Cynthia Weil, June 2016 (Rodin Eckenroth/WireImage)

Cynthia Weil, Songwriter for the Ronettes, Chaka Khan, and the Righteous Brothers, Dies at 82

Weil, with her husband and songwriter partner, Barry Mann, wrote “On Broadway” and scored No. 1 hits with the Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” and “(You’re My) Soul and Inspiration”

Cynthia Weil, the songwriter known for “On Broadway,” “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’,” and more, died on Thursday, June 1, The Associated Press reports, citing Weil’s daughter, Dr. Jenn Mann. A cause of death was not disclosed. Weil was 82 years old.

Weil was born in 1940 and grew up in a Jewish family in New York. She studied piano as a child and majored in theater at Sarah Lawrence College. In 1960, Weil met Barry Mann, her soon-to-be husband and songwriting partner. The couple quickly became enmeshed in Manhattan’s Brill Building songwriting community alongside pop and rock fixtures like Carole King, Burt Bacharach, and Neil Diamond.

Weil and Mann’s first hit came in 1961 with the Tony Orlando–sung “Bless You,” which reached No. 15 on the Billboard Hot 100. Mann-Weil’s success grew the following year as the songwriters behind the Crystals’ “Uptown” and “He’s Sure the Boy I Love,” Paul Petersen’s “My Dad,” and James Darren’s “Conscience,” all of which cracked the top 15.

Then, in 1963, Mann-Weil collaborated with Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller on one of their first truly iconic songs, the Drifters’ “On Broadway.” The single, which peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100, captured Weil’s lifelong love affair with Manhattan. Fifteen years later, George Benson successfully covered the song for his album Weekend in L.A.

After “On Broadway” came more hits for Mann-Weil and more work with producer Phil Spector, with whom they’d collaborated on the Crystals’ singles. Spector served as the producer and co-writer for the Ronettes’ “Walking in the Rain” and “Born to Be Together” and the Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’,” among other songs. “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” was Mann-Weil’s first song to top the charts, and they repeated the feat in 1966 with the Righteous Brothers’ “(You’re My) Soul and Inspiration.”

As the years rolled on, Weil and Mann wrote songs for Dusty Springfield, the Partridge Family, Quincy Jones, Dionne Warwick, Bette Midler, the Pointer Sisters, Ray Charles, Hanson, and more. In 1986, with James Horner, Mann-Weil wrote “Somewhere Out There,” a single that Linda Ronstadt and James Ingram recorded for the soundtrack of the animated movie An American Tail. It reached No. 2 on the singles chart, marking the couple’s biggest hit since the 1960s. “Somewhere Out There” went on to win two Grammy Awards—Song of the Year and Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or Television—and it was nominated for Best Original Song at the 1987 Academy Awards.

Beyond her work with her husband, Cynthia Weil co-wrote many songs including Barry Manilow’s “Somewhere Down the Road,” the Pointer Sisters’ “He’s So Shy,” Lionel Richie’s “Love Will Conquer All,” and Chaka Khan’s “Through the Fire,” technically making her a co-writer of Kanye West’s debut solo single, “Through the Wire.” Weil also co-wrote the theme for 1985’s St. Elmo’s Fire.

Weil was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1987, and the institution awarded her and Mann its highest honor in 2011, the Johnny Mercer Award. In 2010, Mann-Weil were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as recipients of the Ahmet Ertegun Award.

Weil was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame by Carole King, who took to social media on Friday to remember her late friend and contemporary. “Cynthia’s high professional standard made us all better songwriters,” King wrote. “My favorite Cynthia lyric is, ‘Just a little lovin’ early in the mornin’ beats a cup of coffee for startin’ out the day.’ If we’re lucky, we know this is true, but she wrote it—and then she rhymed ‘mornin’’ with ‘yawnin’’ in the next verse. May the legacy of lyrics by Cynthia Weil continue to speak to and for generations to come. Rest in peace with love and gratitude.”

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