Last week, longtime Saturday Night Live music producer Hal Willner passed away at the age of 64, after experiencing symptoms consistent with the novel coronavirus. This weekend, SNL writers and cast members, current and former, harmonized remotely for a rendition of “Perfect Day” by Lou Reed. The late musician had befriended Willner while the latter worked under New York record producer Joel Dorn in the late ’70s. After joining Saturday Night Live in 1980, Willner scored the show’s sketches until his death, in addition to organizing eclectic concerts and musical collaborations on both coasts.
“Everything at SNL happens really quickly, except some of the sketches the writers write are more cinematic in quality, and so they need to be scored more like a movie in order for them to make sense and make the jokes land,” Kate McKinnon explained at the end of Saturday’s episode. “On SNL, the guy who scores it only has a few hours. The guy who scores it is Hal Willner, and we lost him this week.”
In the tribute, McKinnon, Adam Sandler, Bill Hader, Kenan Thompson, John Mulaney, Fred Armisen and Pete Davidson shared memories of Willner, while alums like Tina Fey, Maya Rudolph, Amy Poehler, Paula Pell, Molly Shannon and Rachel Dratch sang along.
Says Mulaney, “I don’t know why someone who was already friends with Miles Davis had a big enough heart to include me in their life, but he did.” Concludes Davidson, “I’ve been through a lot over the last six years, especially as being part of the show, and Hal always has always treated me open arms and warm smile and was always the funniest dude. Just want to say he will be very well missed, and we’re all thinking about you. We love you very much.”