“I’m devastated by this news.” says The Edge. “Hal was a close friend and one of the greatest music men of all time.”
“What an extraordinary man, what a gigantic soul,” adds Bono. “And all that music and laughter erupting out of it. A brutal punch in the gut. He was never more needed than the moment he left us… A lot of people love music, but very few people are loved by music as much as Hal Willner.”
Hal worked with Bono in 2000 on the soundtrack to The Million Dollar Hotel, and he organized the 2017 MusiCares MAP Fund benefit honoring U2 bassist Adam Clayton, raising funds for addiction recovery programs.
One of Hal’s most recent collaborations with U2 is still to be released. In 2017 he joined them in the studio in New Orleans to record a cover of “Bang a Gong (Get It On)” – featuring Elton John on piano — part of a tribute album Hal produced to honor Marc Bolan and T. Rex.
Willner also worked on music for Saturday Night Live sketches for more than 40 years, as well as producing albums for Marianne Faithfull, Laurie Anderson, Lou Reed and Lucinda Williams.
Metallica also paid tribute. He co-produced Lulu, the band’s controversial collaboration with Lou Reed. The band wrote that Willner “was a truly inspirational collaborator, someone who, through his unique combination of musical knowledge and warm personality, invigorated every project he touched.”