Hal Willner, the longtime staffer and music producer at Saturday Night Live, received his own special tribute from the cast during the Live at Home special. Wilner had symptoms consistent with coronavirus and passed away on April 7, 2020. He was 64.
The heartfelt tribute started off with a message from Kate McKinnon, who explained how Willner directed all the musical scores for the show’s larger production sketches, none of which would be as funny or moving without his genius.
“We’re going to miss you so damn much,” Adam Sandler said. “You were just a great man. A great person and we appreciated everything you did for us.” Frequent SNL host John Mulaney added that he was “a wonderful friend to me and everyone at Saturday Night Live. I don’t know why someone who was friends with Miles Davis would me include me in his life, but he did.”
We love you, Hal ❤️ pic.twitter.com/vwdjXteHAa
— Saturday Night Live – SNL (@nbcsnl) April 12, 2020
Numerous former cast members paid tribute to Willner as well, such as Sandler, Fred Armisen, Bill Hader, Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Ana Gasteyer, and Amy Rudolph, many of whom sang “Perfect Day,” together while practicing social distancing at home.
“When it’s all working, there’s nothing like it,” Willner said of SNL in the tribute video. “I kinda get off on the danger.”
Willner, who started working for SNL in 1981 is survived by his wife, Sheila, and son, Arlo. He also scored the music for films such as Gangs of New York, Finding Forrester, and Talladega Nights. As a music producer, he produced albums for artists Marianna Faithful and Lou Reed.
Following his passing, Lou Reed tweeted, “Earlier today Hal Willner passed away. Hal was one of Lou’s dearest friends and his sudden departure is a heavy blow. Please keep his family in your thoughts. If you can, light a candle for Hal. Please stay home and stay safe.”