The Greatest Love of All: Happy Birthday Linda Creed
Grammy Award winning songwriter Linda Creed was born today (December 6, 1948) in the Mount Airy section of Philadelphia.
Creed was a 20-year-old French Jew and an aspiring poet/songwriter who got the bug to be in the industry after seeing Smokey Robinson & The Miracles perform on Dick Clark’s Philadelphia-based show, American Bandstand.
Linda Creed got involved in the Philly Soul scene after she met Thom Bell in 1969 through Randy Cain, a member of Philadelphia soul group, The Delfonics.
She immediately hit it off with Bell, who was the third member of the Gamble & Huff publishing company Mighty Three Music.
Linda Creed’s first song was published in 1970, after she linked Gamble, Huff & Thom Bell for Dusty Springfield’s song “(I Wanna Be A) Free Girl.”
Despite working with mostly black musicians, Creed was welcomed by all at Gamble & Huff’s Philadelphia International’s offices.
“We never saw her as a real live girl, a female that could be in love and cry,” Thom Bell said. “She was just as rough as any of us. No one even called her ‘Linda’ around us. That didn’t even sound right! She was just Creed. She’d been around us so long that no paid any attention to her.”
Creed’s husband, Stephen “Eppy” Epstein saw things different.
In the book A House on Fire: The Rise of and Fall of Philadelphia Soul, Epstein said there were rumors that Creed and Thom Bell were having an affair, until their success together proved they were simply partners.
(It’s important to note that Epstein dabbled in the music industry, most notably as the manager for Philly drug gang/rap group The R.A.M. Squad.)
In 1971, the famous Thom Bell-Linda Creed songwriting team kicked off with The Stylistics’ “Stop, Look, Listen.”
If you listen closely, you can hear Linda Creed singing background vocals with Thom Bell and Barbara Ingram on the Stylistics’ track “You Are Everything.”
With Thom Bell or other song writers, Linda Creed penned a number of soul classics including “Betcha By Golly Wow,” “Stop Look and Listen,” “Ghetto Child” and “Living Just A Little,” by The Spinners.
Tragically, Creed died on April 10, 1986 at the age of 37, after a ten-year battle with breast cancer.
Her song about breast cancer, “The Greatest Love of All,” was originally recorded by Georgia Benson and turned into a #1 smash by Whitney Houston the same month she passed in 1986.
In addition to her songs, Linda Creed’s legacy is carried on through the Linda Creed Breast Cancer Foundation.