• Hal Willner

    Hal Willner was an American music producer working in recording, films, television, and live events. He was the music producer for Saturday Night Live from 1980 until his death, though he was best known for assembling 'tribute' albums featuring eclectic combinations of musicians collaborating on fresh recreations of the music of Nino Rota, Thelonius Monk, Kurt Weill, Carl Stalling, and most recently his posthumously-released T.Rex project, "Angel-Headed Hipster". He produced exhilarating live concerts that always featured a wide range of artists and musical styles, and he created NBC's "Night Music" (1988-1990) wherein over the course of two brief seasons he brought his fearless creative ethos to national TV, pairing wildly diverse artists like The Residents with Conway Twitty, Nick Cave with Toots Thielmans, and Kramer's band Bongwater with Screamin' Jay Hawkins, among dozens of others. Credited with launching the career of Jeff Buckley, Hal also produced albums for Lou Reed, Marianne Faithfull, Laurie Anderson, Bill Frisell, and Lucinda Williams, to name but a small few. Perhaps the greatest champion of "spoken-word & music", Hal's work as a record producer is celebrated by Shimmy-Disc with the re-releases of his Hunter S. Thompson and Allen Ginsberg projects. One of Kramer's dearest friends for over 40 years, Hal was taken by Covid-19 in 2020, one day after his 64th birthday.