Hal Willner  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Hal Willner (born 1957, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) is an American music producer working in recording, films, TV and live events. He is best known for assembling tribute albums and events featuring a wide variety of artists and musical styles (jazz, classical, rock, Tin Pan Alley). His first tribute album was Amarcord Nino Rota in 1981.

In the 1970s he worked under record producer Joel Dorn. He was music supervisor of Saturday Night Live from 1981–1990, occasionally returning in subsequent years. He was also a producer of the TV program Sunday Night hosted by David Sanborn.

Willner has produced albums for Marianne Faithfull, Lou Reed, Bill Frisell, William S. Burroughs, Gavin Friday, Lucinda Williams, Laurie Anderson and Allen Ginsberg, among others. He produced a live tribute concert to Tim Buckley, that ultimately launched the career of Tim's son Jeff. He has released one album under his own name: Whoops, I'm an Indian, which featured audio samples from 78 rpm records from the early-mid 20th century.

In January 2010 Willner produced the pirate-themed concert event Rogue's Gallery for the 2009 Sydney Festival. The mulitnational cast included Marianne Faithfull, Todd Rundgren (who had contributed to Willner's Thelonious Monk tribute album), Tim Robbins, Gavin Friday, Peter Garrett, Baby Gramps, David Thomas, Sarah Blasko, Katy Steele, Peaches, Glenn Richards, Liam Finn, Camille O’Sullivan, Kami Thompson and Marry Waterson.


Tribute albums

Live tribute events

  • Greetings From Tim Buckley (Brooklyn 1991)
  • Nevermore: Poems & Stories of Edgar Allan Poe (Brooklyn 1995), which led to the album Closed on Account of Rabies (1997), then Hal Willner's Halloween Show: Never Bet the Devil your Head (Los Angeles 2002), then Closed on Account of Rabies: Poems and Tales of Edgar Allen Poe (Los Angeles 2001)
  • Tribute to Allen Ginsberg (Los Angeles)
  • Marquis de Sade's writings (New York 1998)
  • The Harry Smith Project (London 1999, Los Angeles 2001)
  • The Doc Pomus Project (New York City 2001)
  • Came So Far For Beauty, An Evening of Songs by Leonard Cohen (Brooklyn 2003, Brighton 2004, Sydney 2005, Dublin 2006)
  • Dream Comfort Memory Despair: The Songs of Neil Young (Brooklyn 2004), followed by Hal Willner's Neil Young Project (Vancouver 2010 Olympics)
  • Perfect Partners: Nino Rota & Federico Fellini (London 2004)
  • Shock And Awe: The Songs of Randy Newman (Los Angeles 2004)
  • Forest of No Return: Hal Willner Presents Vintage Disney Songbook (London 2007), followed by Stay Awake: 20th anniversary of the classic recording of Disney songs (Brooklyn 2008) (Hal Willner's Stay Awake at UCLA was scheduled for October 30, 2008, but was cancelled due to unavailability of some performers)
  • Rogue's Gallery (NYC 2007, Dublin 2008, London 2008, Gateshead 2008, Sydney 2010)
  • Hal Willner's Bill Withers Project (Brooklyn 2008)
  • Begats: Readings of the work of Burroughs, DeSade & Poe (Brooklyn 2009)
  • Gotta Right to Sing the Blues? Music and Readings from A Fine Romance, Jewish Songwriters, American Songs (NYC 2010)

Spoken word recordings

With the increasing prevalence of tribute albums in the late 1980s (such as Red Hot + Blue), Willner decided to turn his attention to spoken word recordings.

Film related projects

A more complete list of Willner's contributions to films and television can be found at www.imdb.com (see external links).

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Hal Willner" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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