April 10, 1986 -Linda Creed- Epstein was born on December 6th 1948 in Philadelphia and raised in the city’s Mt. Airy section. She started singing while attending Germantown High School. After graduation, she started singing on the Philadelphia night-club scene and eventually went to New York to get her “big break.” When that didn’t happen, she called her father for help in coming back home and she composed “I’m Coming Home” based on that experience. Linda’s big break actually came in 1970, when UK singer Dusty Springfield recorded her song “Free Girl”. That same year, she teamed up with songwriter and producer Thom Bell. Their first songwriting collaboration, “Stop, Look, Listen (To Your Heart)”, became a Top 40 pop hit for the Stylistics.
How did it happen? After being in a self-described “blue funk,” Thom Bell, who worked at Philadelphia International Records in various writing and producing positions, suggested a songwriting partnership with Creed and she quickly found her role in the music business as a songwriter and producer. Their first composition, “Free Girl,” was reportedly written a week after Bell’s suggestion. The Creed-Bell team went on to become a song factory, cranking out hit after hit for more than a decade. They also became pillars of the Philadelphia Sound – a Philadelphia-inspired brand of soul music that began in the city in the late-1960s and produced numerous hits worldwide in the 1970s.
Their songwriting collaboration yielded such hits as “Living a Little, Laughing a Little,” “Could It Be I’m Falling in Love?” “You Make Me Feel Brand New,” “You Are Everything,” “Stop, Look Listen (To Your Heart),” “Betcha By Golly, Wow,” “I’m Stone in Love With You,” and “The Rubberband Man,” among many others.
The roster of stars who recorded their songs and who they produced reads like a Who’s Who of popular music: Whitney Houston, Dionne Warwick, Teddy Pendergrass, Little Anthony and the Imperials, Dusty Springfield, Johnny Mathis, the Stylistics, the Spinners, the Intruders, and Connie Stevens, to name just a few.
By 1975, Creed had amassed a catalog of 125 songs and her partnership with Bell was well-acknowledged by the recording industry with 23 gold and platinum records at the time of her death. But success never overtook Creed. According to the Inquirer, she was quoted as saying she was “still a Jewish, middle-class housewife and mother, and I happen to write songs.”
Linda Creed also worked with fellow Philadelphia native Phyllis Hyman on many of her songs, most notably “Old Friend”.
Although Linda was diagnosed with breast cancer at 26, she bravely kept on working, teaming with composer Michael Masser to write “Greatest Love of All” for the 1977 Muhammad Ali biopic The Greatest; then in the spring of 1986, the song topped the charts for singer Whitney Houston.
Sadly, just weeks before Whitney reached the No.1 spot, Linda had lost her long battle with cancer. She also wrote the theme for the TV series, “Simon and Simon”. Over the years, cover recordings of her songs were major hits for Roberta Flack, Rod Stewart, Smokey Robinson, Michael Jackson and many, many others.
Grammy Award-winning American singer-songwriter Linda Creed died from breast cancer at age 37 on April, 1986. In 1992, Linda was posthumously inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.