Primary Wave has acquired a major stake in the music-publishing catalog of the late Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee Allee Willis, which includes such timeless hits as Earth, Wind & Fire’s “September” and “Boogie Wonderland” among many other songs, the company announced Monday.
Also included in the catalog are such songs as “Neutron Dance” by the Pointer Sisters, “What Have I Done to Deserve This?” by the Pet Shop Boys and Dusty Springfield, and “I’ll Be There for You” by the Rembrandts, which was made famous when it became the theme song for the long-running sitcom “Friends.” Also included in the acquisition is Allee’s interest in the songs that she wrote for the Broadway production, “The Color Purple.”
Primary Wave will also serve as the exclusive partner of Willis’ name, likeness, and life story rights, as well as of her personal art and collection of antiques, artwork, and memorabilia. The publisher has already confirmed they will partner with her estate on a documentary about Willis’ life.
Willis, who died of cardiac arrest on Dec. 24, was a two-time Grammy winner — for “The Color Purple” as best musical theater album in 2016, and her contribution to the “Beverly Hills Cop” soundtrack three decades earlier — and was nominated for a Tony (for “The Color Purple”) and Emmy (for the “Friends” theme).
“I, very thankfully, have a few songs that will not go away,” she told the New York Times in 2019, “but they’re schlepping along 900 others.”
In addition to her many awards and wide circle of friends, Willis was legendary in L.A. for her outlandishly retro style sense, in her outfits but especially her home, the pink, legendarily kitchsy 1937 Streamline Moderne L.A. house known as “Willis Wonderland.” The home, which is itself a museum of pop culture history, was the setting of the photo shoot for Variety’s Billie Eilish cover last fall.
Of the deal Tina Fasbender, Willis’ business manager and founder of Fasbender Financial, said “In looking for a home that would understand, respect and creatively grow the visibility of Allee’s astounding, multidisciplinary body of work, there was really only one choice. Allee was not just a songwriter, and as Trustees, we needed a team that had the vision, passion and resources to take in her lifelong creative explosion and think outside the box…because that’s where she lived and created. Primary Wave is not just a publisher. They are a company of music fans, who have well-honed, wide-ranging skill sets. They grow what they love! The many puzzle pieces of Allee’s creative hurricane are perfectly suited for how Primary Wave markets and promotes art. This was a match made in heaven, for all involved!”
Lawrence Mestel, CEO & Founder of Primary Wave Music Publishing, said, “The hits Allee Willis penned for the likes of Earth, Wind & Fire, The Pointer Sisters, Pet Shop Boys and more have stood the test of time. Her catalog is iconic, her songs are ageless. I am so thrilled to welcome her to the family and to be working with her trustees on some very exciting projects incorporating both her songs and her incredible life story.”