Linda Creed Epstein – The Woman Behind the Fame
Born in the Mount Airy section of Philadelphia in December 1949, Linda Creed was active in music at Germantown High School. After graduation, Linda decided against college and devoted her energies to writing and producing music. She found her first writing success in 1971 at the age 22 when Dusty Springfield recorded her song “Free Girl.” (Ironically, Dusty Springfield succumbed to breast cancer herself in 1987.)
She moved to Los Angeles and while there managed the group “War” and met her future husband, Stephen Epstein. Eventually she and Stephen, now married, returned to Philadelphia where she connected with Kenny Gamble and teamed up with Thom Bell. In time her work with Thom Bell, initially with The Stylistics and then with The Spinners, brought her huge commercial success and was an integral part of what became known as the “Philly Sound.” She wrote for other notables such as Teddy Pendergrass and George Benson. She was co-writer of “The Greatest Love of All,” theme song for the Muhammed Ali film biography 'The Greatest' and recorded by George Benson.
While her public life was one of fame and success, her private life was one filled with family and friends, the joy of motherhood, and the shadow of breast cancer. At the tender age of 26, Linda was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her indomitable spirit helped her survive ten more years. The private Linda was known for her generous and nurturing heart. She took great joy in her daughters. Despite her illness, she made herself available to her family and friends, helping them in any way she could and was instrumental in helping Teddy Pendergass recover his spirits after his accident.
She died of breast cancer on April 10th, 1986 at the age of 37, survived by her husband Stephen, her two daughters, her parents, a sister, and two brothers. During her ten-year battle with breast cancer, Linda had continued to work and left a prolific legacy. A little over a month after her death, her most well-known song, Greatest Love of All, became a #1 hit for Whitney Houston for three weeks (May 19th to June 6th). Linda was posthumously inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1992.
The year after her death her friends and family founded the Linda Creed Epstein Foundation in her name to honor the private Linda – the caregiver and nurturer. Twenty plus years after her death, her songwriting fame has faded somewhat, but her inner spirit lives on, providing other women access to mammograms and diagnostic tests, breast health education, financial assistance for those undergoing breast cancer treatment, and a chance to influence research funding and policy through advocacy.
Songwriters Hall of Fame