Cynthia Weil, Grammy-winning Songwriter, Dies at 82

Along with Barry Mann, her husband of 62 years, she wrote some of the most iconic songs of the 20th century.
June 6, 2023
Songwriters Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil pose for a portrait circa 1967. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Songwriter Cynthia Weil died June 1 at the age of 82. From the 1960s to the 1990’s, Weil, with her husband of 62 years, Barry Mann, wrote over 80 chart-topping songs for some of the most iconic singers in the world,

Weil was born in New York on October 18, 1940. Her mother, Dorothy Mendez, had Sephardic roots that may have dated back to the Spanish Inquisition; her father, Morris Weil, was the son of Orthodox Polish immigrants and owned two furniture stores.

They married in 1929 and lived in Manhattan. In Scott R. Benarde’s  2003 book, “Stars of David: Rock ‘n’ Roll’s Jewish Stories,”  Weil remembered growing up in “a kosher home with big Shabbat dinners and celebrating holidays at a Conservative synagogue.” Weil was eight when her father died, and religion became less of a force in her life. She attended Sunday school  but did not enjoy it, and promised herself  that “no child of [mine] would ever have to go through the same.”

Weil and Mann married in 1961. That same year,  Tony Orlando had a #15 hit with their song, “Bless You.” As part of the New York-based songwriters based out of the Brill Building (where they worked alongside other songwriters including Carole King and her husband, Gerry Goffin, Burt Bachrach and Hal David, Mike Lieber and Jerry Stoller, Jeff Barry and Elle Greenwich, Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman) they were one of the songwriting teams writing songs produced by Phil Spector on his Philles record label: The Crystals (“Uptown, 1962, #18, “He’s Sure the Boy I Love” 1962, #11), The Ronettes (“Walking in the Rain” 1963, #23) and probably their best-known song, “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” which topped the charts for the Righteous Brothers in 1964. They also wrote hits for Eydie Gorme (“Blame it on the Bossa Nova, 1962, #7), The Drifters (“On Broadway,”  a #9 hit, written with Lieber and Stoller in 1963, and later a #7 hit for George Benson in 1978).

Mann and Weil’s ability to write in different styles allowed them to thrive in the post-Beatles pop world. The Animals took their “We’ve Gotta Get Out of This Place” to #13 in 1965. That year, Paul Revere and the Raiders had two of their biggest his with Mann-Weil songs: “Kicks” (#4) and “Hungry” (#6), and wrote another chart-topping hit for the Righteous Brothers, “(You’re My)  Soul and Inspiration.” In 1968, they had a #22 hit with “The Shape of Things To Come,” performed by Max Frost and the Troopers, written for the teensploition cult favorite “Wild in the Streets.”

Weil and Mann’s songs were also recorded by Dusty Springfield, The Monkees, The Partridge Family, B.J. Thomas (“”I Just Can’t Help Believing,” a #9 hit in 1970, recorded a year later by Elvis Presley, and “Rock and Roll Lullaby,” a #15 hit in 1972),  The Grass Roots, and Blood Sweat & Tears. They had one of their biggest hits with Dolly Parton’s “Here You Come Again” (#3 1977), and in 1986, Linda Ronstadt and James Ingram had a #2 hit with their “Somewhere Out There,” written with James Horner for the movie “An American Tail.”

Their songs ranged in style from dreamy pop to hard rock, from country lilt to jazzy swing. Weil, who was the lyricist of the team,  was also one of the first songwriters to confront modern themes: Racism in “Uptown,” drugs in “Kicks,” and in “Broadway,” the hard road to success.

Weil and Mann were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1987.  In 2010, they were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame where they received the Ahmet Ertegun Award, which is “given to non-performing industry professionals who, through their dedicated belief and support of artists and their music, have had a major influence on the creative development and growth of rock & roll and music that has impacted youth culture.”

In her acceptance speech, Weil said the award was “twice as sweet [because] my greatest teacher, my greatest inspiration, my greatest collaborator has always been my husband and partner Barry Mann … I think what’s held  us together has been this great bond of creativity,  it’s been rock and roll. So I want to thank the music for giving us our life together.”

Weil is survived by husband Mann, now aged 84, and daughter Dr. Jenn Mann, a psychotherapist in Los Angeles.

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