The Greatest Love Of All

Album: Whitney Houston (1985)
Charted: 8 1

Songfacts®:

  • This was written by songwriters Michael Masser and Linda Creed. Linda Creed was recovering from breast cancer when they wrote the song in 1977. Originally recorded by George Benson, his version went to #24 in the US. In 1985, the song was revived by Whitney Houston, and on May 17, 1986, it went to #1 for the first of three weeks.

    Creed's cancer claimed her life on April 10, 1986. She was later inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame on the strength of this song and the many hits she co-wrote for The Spinners, The Stylistics, and other acts on the Philadelphia International label. Phil Hurtt, who also wrote for the label, told us, "There are thousands of ways to say I Love You, and the difficulty is trying to find a nuance, a new way to say what's been said thousands of times, and Linda Creed is someone who was able to do that."
  • Masser and Creed wrote this for the 1977 film biography of Muhammad Ali, The Greatest, and the song first appeared on the film's soundtrack recorded by George Benson. Ali played himself in the movie, essentially recreating his defining moments intercut with clips of his actual fights. Ali was the heavyweight champ at the time of the film's release. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Johanna - London, England
  • Houston's version was originally the B-side of "You Give Good Love" but the amount of airplay it received persuaded Arista to release it as a single.

Comments: 11

  • Cristina Bingham from California Sadly I just discovered people at Jonestown in Guyana South America were singing this song the night before their mass suicide/mass murder the following day. See It. https://youtu.be/Qm7k2Eq-vD0
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn this day in 1977 {September 23rd} George Benson performed "The Greatest Love of All" on the NBC-TV late-night musical variety program, 'The Midnight Special', he was also that night's guest host...
    At the time the song was at position #27 on Billboard's Top 100 chart, two weeks later it would peak at #24 {for 1 week} and it spent fourteen weeks on the Top 100...
    And on September 4th, 1977 it peaked at #2 {for 2 weeks} on Billboard's Hot R&B Singles chart, the two weeks it was at #2, the #1 record for both those weeks was "Float On" by the Floaters...
    Between 1975 and 1998 the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania native had twenty five records on the Hot R&B Singles chart, ten made the Top 10 with one* reaching #1, "Turn Your Love Around", for one week in 1982...
    George Benson will celebrate his 77th birthday come next March 22nd, 2020...
    * He just missed having two more #1 records when two of his records peaked at #2, the above "The Greatest Love of All" and his covered version of "On Broadway", it spent two weeks at #2 in 1978, the two weeks it was at #2, the #1 record for both those weeks was "Too Much, Too Little, Too Late" by Johnny Mathis and Deniece Williams...
  • John Hudson from Flint,miI recall George Benson talking about the guy who wrote this song. He said a guy who just got his butt kicked in a club he was playing at, limped up to the stage and gave him the lyrics and the tune on cassette to the greatest love of all and asked George to listen to it. Just wonder if anyone else heard that story…
  • Esskayess from Dallas, TxThis song sounded good at first, but after seemingly endless replays on every station it got very, very grating. 'The children are our future?' Well, duhhhhhh!
    I just hope her child was taught a few things other than the repeated acts of a fool that ultimately killed her and silenced one of the greatest singing voices ever. Why are so many famous people so stupid?
  • Sara from Silver Spring, MdGeorge Benson also had a hit with this song too. His version features guitar by Lee Ritenour rather than Benson's usual jazz guitar.
  • Jeff from Austin, TxI think Randy Watson and Sexual Chocolate's version of this song is the best.
  • Guy from Woodinville, Wa"No matter what they take from me,
    they can't take away my dignity." No, Whitney. Only you can do that, as you've proved so thoroughly. How sad. So inspirational to so pitiful.
  • Pat from New York City, NyBateman in the movie American Psycho has a meaningful insight about Whitney Houston. An instrumental of this song is played while he is talking, performed by an orchestra.
  • Tony from Topeka, KsDespite the message in the lyrics, I think this is one of the most depressing songs of all time.
  • David from Nyc, NyIt's a testament to Whitney's unrivalled interpretive ability that this song has become an audition standard. Whitney is the gold standard of vocalists, and so many would-be singers have attempted this song after her on shows such as American Idol, Star Search, Showtime at the Apollo--in fact, it's one of the most performed songs. This is including several celebrities, before they were stars:

    Celine Dion performed this song on a French television show in the 1980s, before she achieved her stated goal of rivalling Whitney's US fame.

    Christina Aguilera performed the song on Star Search in 1988, but didn't win.

    Singer Monica was discovered by her record label after performing this song.

    Spice Girl Scary Spice used this song to audition for the group.

    Singer Brandy performed this song for Arsenio Hall before she hit it big.

    It's so common as an audition song that it's been parodied as such on TV, including Buffy The Vampire Slayer. In Season One, the Cordelia character sang in an audition.
  • Molly from Midway, KyThis was sung by a student during the gradution scene in Say Anything...
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