Michael Masser, a former stock broker turned songwriter, whose hits in the 70’s and 80’s helped propel the careers of Diana Ross, Whitney Houston, and other artists, passed away at his home in California on July 9, The Washington Post is reporting. He was 74.
Masser’s first success as a songwriter came in 1973, with the song “Touch Me In The Morning.” Diana’s Ross recording of the hit song went No. 1 in 1973. Masser would later say that it took him two years to come up with the song; Motown studio chief Barry Gordy would make Masser run through 79 mixes of the song before he, Ross, and everyone else involved was satisfied.
Ross posted a heartfelt message in memory of her friend and collaborator on Twitter.
MICHAEL MASSER so many memories He will live on. through his beautiful songs Touch me in the morning, It’s my turn Theme from Mahogany
— Ms. Ross (@DianaRoss) July 11, 2015
Following “Touch Me In The Morning,” Masser continued to write songs for Ross and other artists. Perhaps his greatest critical success came in the form of the soundtrack for the film Mahogany, which Masser wrote. The theme song “Do You Know Where You’re Going To” was nominated for an Academy Award.
In the 80’s Masser’s songwriting helped make Whitney Houston a star, writing such hits as “Saving All My Love For You” and “The Greatest Love of All.”
Masser described his songwriting style as coming from the “Great American Songbook” tradition, according to The Guardian. Years ago, he spoke of his approach to songwriting, and the advice he learned from lyricist Johnny Mercer.
“The biggest thing I got from Johnny was ‘don’t rush a song.’ the thing I ran up against was everybody wanted a song so fast.”
Since Masser’s death, his friends and colleagues in the music industry have been paying tribute to their friend. Fellow musician and co-collaborator George Benson described Masser’s legacy, via Contact Music.
“Michael Masser was my friend for a lot of reasons. His lyrical genius is evident in everything he has produced as a songwriter and his amazing gift was instrumental in the lives of many well known artists. [His songs] have given me a place in musical history that I could have never imagined. He was and will always remain my beloved friend.”
As of this post, Michael Masser’s cause of death has not been made public.
[Image courtesy of: Getty Images/Mark Cieslikowski]