Jon Lind, writer of hits for Earth, Wind & Fire, Madonna, Vanessa Williams and others, passed away Saturday after a two-year battle with cancer, his attorney, Jeremy Rosen, has confirmed. He was 73.
Lind’s catalog, in which Primary Wave acquired a majority stake last year, included such songs as Boogie Wonderland and Sun Goddess by Earth, Wind & Fire, Save the Best for Last by Vanessa Williams and Crazy for You by Madonna, the latter two of which reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Save the Best for Last was named ASCAP’s Song of the Year in 1992 and earned Grammy nomination for Song of the Year and Record of the Year in 1993. He also co-wrote hits for Cher, Deniece Williams, Atlantic Starr, Aaron Neville, the Emotions, Rick Astley, and others.
Lind also was head of A&R for Hollywood Records, where he worked closely with Miley Cyrus, the Jonas Brothers, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato and Jesse McCartney, among others.
A native of Brooklyn, New York, Lind got his start as a folksinger in the late 1960s, opening for artists like Judy Collins, Tom Paxton and Harry Chapin as a teenager. While studying classical guitar at Mannes College of Music, he formed the Fifth Avenue Band, which signed with Warner Bros. and was managed by Bob Cavallo (then manager of the Lovin’ Spoonful and later Prince’s co-manager). Later in the ‘70s he formed the groups Howdy Moon (whose debut album was produced by Lowell George of Little Feat) and White Horse, none of which were commercially successful.
Cavallo, by then the manager of Earth, Wind & Fire, suggested he become a professional songwriter, and, as Lind recounted to Songwriter Universe in 2012, “I was in the waiting room in Bob Cavallo’s office, strumming my guitar, playing a new ‘fragment’ of music I’d written. [Earth, Wind & Fire leader] Maurice White popped his head in and said, ‘What is that?’ He suggested I ‘lay it down’, and get it to him. I did so, and over the next three months and he turned it into ‘Sun Goddess.’”
The song was covered by Ramsey Lewis and later EWF, and launched his professional songwriting career. Collaborating frequently with writers like Allie Willis, John Bettis, Phil Galdston and others, Lind also co-wrote hits for Deniece Williams, Atlantic Starr, Betty Wright and others, hitting his stride in the ‘80s and ‘90s with Madonna, Cher, Cheap Trick, Aaron Neville, Mica Paris, the Emotions, Jennifer Holliday, Rick Astley, and others.
In 1998, Cavallo, by then chairman of Disney’s music division, signed Lind to a publishing and A&R consultancy deal, which led to a 13-year stint with the company. He was later named head of A&R and worked closely with some of the biggest stars of the next decades, including Cyrus, Gomez, the Jonas Brothers and many others.
Lind is survived by his wife, music executive Susan Drew; his daughters Jenny and Joanna; stepchildren Daniel D’Astuges and Catherine Jones; and three grandchildren.