For the second part of my planned five-part series looking at Overshadowed Originals and Classic Covers, we turn to “The Greatest Love of All.” Of course, everyone knows the version recorded by Whitney Houston that became an international hit.
However, the song was originally performed and recorded by George Benson for the 1977 film “The Greatest,” which was about and starred Muhammad Ali. The song was written by the film’s composer Michael Masser and Linda Creed, who was battling breast cancer and wrote the lyrics from the point of view of a young mother dealing with a terminal illness.
Sadly, Creed lost her battle with breast cancer in April 1986 — just as Houston’s version was being released as a single.
Note: Incidentally, Whitney Houston’s cousin, Dionne Warwick, along with Elton John, Gladys Knight and Stevie Wonder (as Dionne and Friends), recorded the AIDS charity single, “That’s What Friends are For,” in 1985. Written by Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager, the song was first recorded by Rod Stewart and played over the closing credits in the 1982 movie “Night Shift” starring Michael Keaton, Henry Winkler and Shelley Long. So making hit records out of songs originally recorded for movies runs in the family.