Cynthia Weil, the prolific lyricist who wrote dozens of indelible pop hits with husband Barry Mann over a six-decade career has died at 82. According to the Associated Press, Weil’s death of undisclosed causes was confirmed on Friday (June 2) by Interdependence Public Relations, which represents Mann’s daughter, Dr. Jenn Mann.
Weil and Mann were one of the most formidable songwriting teams to set up residence in Manhattan’s famed Brill Building in the 1960s, which was also home to fellow pop songwriting powerhouses including Carole King and Gerry Goffin. Weil’s tear-stained ballads about young love, undying devotion and social struggles include such classics as the Crystals’ “Uptown,” the Drifters’ “On Broadway,” The Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” and the Animals’ anti-war anthem “We Gotta Get Out of This Place.”
Longtime friend King paid homage to Weil in a statement that featured an image of her with Mann, Weil and her then-husband Goffin at a BMI dinner in 1962, writing, “We lost the beautiful, brilliant lyricist Cynthia Weil Mann… The four of us were close, caring friends despite our fierce competition to write the next hit for an artist with a #1 song. Sometimes we wrote in different combinations, e.g., Mann and Goffin ‘Who Put The Bomp?’ and King and Weil ‘One To One.’ Cynthia’s high professional standard made us all better songwriters. 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.”
Weil was born on Oct. 18, 1940 in New York City and studied ballet and piano as a child, but after graduating from Sarah Lawrence University with a theater major she scored a job working for composer Frank Loesser at 20 and soon met Mann, whom she married in 1961. After scoring their first hit that year with Tony Orlando’s “Bless You,” the pair became regular collaborators with “Wall of Sound” producer Phil Spector, with whom they worked on the Ronettes’ “Walking in the Rain” and the Crystals’ “He’s Sure the Boy I Love.”
They landed their most enduring chart-topper in 1965 with the blue-eyed soul smash “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’,” a No. 1 hit produced by Spector that has been covered dozens of times and became the most-played song on radio and TV in the 20th century according to BMI.
The width and breadth of their songwriting ranged from lounge singers Eydie Gorme (“Blame it on the Bossa Nova”) and her duet partner Steve Lawrence (“Don’t Be Afraid, Little Darlin’”), to pop group Jay and the Americans (“Only in America,” a collaboration with Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller), rock band Paul Revere & the Raiders (the anti-drug tune “Kicks”), singing TV group The Partridge Family (“I Really Want to Know You” and “I’m on the Road”) and British siren Dusty Springfield (“Just a Little Lovin’” from her iconic 1969 Dusty in Memphis album).
The 1970s brought collabs with rockers Blood Sweat & Tears (“So Long Dixie”), country singer B.J. Thomas (“Here You Come Again”) and the Grass Roots (“Mamacita”), as their hot streak continued into the 1980s with Bill Medley’s “Don’t Know Much,” which was a No. 2 hit for Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville in 1989, winning a Grammy in 1990 for best pop performance by a duo or group with vocal. They did it again in 1981 with the Quincy Jones/James Ingram ballad “Just Once,” which hit No. 17 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was nominated for a best male pop vocal performance Grammy in 1982.
Weil and Mann also wrote hits for Dionne Warwick (“Never Gonna Let You Go”), Bette Midler (“All I Need to Know”), Jeffrey Osborne (“We’re Going All the Way”), the Pointer Sisters (“Baby Come and Get It”) and Ronstadt and James Ingram (“Somewhere Out There”), a No. 2 hit they collaborated on with James Horner for the animated movie An American Tail that won Grammys in 1988 for song of the year and best song written specifically for a motion picture or television.
She also scored hits on her own or with other writers for the Pointers (“He’s So Shy”), Barry Manilow (“Somewhere Down the Road”), Lionel Richie (“Running with the Night,” “Love Will Conquer All”), Peabo Bryson (“If Ever You’re in My Arms Again”), Chaka Khan (“Through the Fire”), Sheena Easton (“So Far So Good”) and Martina McBride (“Wrong Again”).
Weil was the first woman recipient of the Ahmet Ertegun Award at the 2010 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction (which she shared with Mann), and was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1987 and landed the first-ever National Academy of Songwriters Life Achievement Award (both with Mann), as well as the Songwriting Hall of Fame’s highest honor, the Johnny Mercer Award in 2011. She is survived by Mann, 84, and their daughter, Jenn.