Tom Whitlock, who won a Best Song Oscar for co-writing the No. 1 smash ‘Take My Breath Away’ from Top Gun and also wrote the film’s other hit single “Danger Zone,” has died. He was 68.
Gorman-Scharpf Funeral Home confirmed that he died February 18 in Gallatin, TN. No cause was given.
Born on February 20, 1954, in Springfield, MO, Whitlock had been a longtime songwriter and performer without much success when he had a chance meeting with Giorgio Moroder in a Los Angeles recording studio. Whitlock told a story about the Italian composer complaining about the brakes on his Ferrari, leading the opportunistic lyricist to picking up some brake fluid and make the repairs.
Moroder — who already had Oscars on his mantel for Original Score (Midnight Express) and Best Song (“Flashdance”) and had produced No. 1 hits for Donna Summer — recruited the hungry Whitlock to pen the lyrics for four Top Gun songs. Among them were the ballad “Take My Breath Away,” which became a chart-topper for Berlin in the States, the UK and other countries, and the rocker “Danger Zone,” which Kenny Loggins took to No. 2 in the U.S. The Tom Cruise film and its soundtrack both were smash hits, with the LP spending five weeks atop the Billboard 200. The disc has gone on to sell more than 9 million copies in the U.S. alone. “Danger Zone” also is featured in last year’s juggernaut sequel Top Gun: Maverick.
The pair also co-wrote the Top Gun songs “Lead Me On” and “Through the Fire.”
Whitlock and Moroder would go on together on about two dozen other movie soundtracks including Beverly Hills Cop II, Rambo III, As Tears Go By and Let It Ride, and co-penned the theme songs for the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul (“Hand in Hand”) and the 1990 FIFA World Cup (“To Be Number One”).
Whitlock also contributed songs to several other films and amassed more than 100 songwriting credits during his career, including tunes done by Ray Charles, Bonnie Tyler and Graham Nash.
He is survived by his sister, Mary Whitlock Schweitzer; his former wife, Hollie Whitlock; and her daughter, Yohanna Sherman.
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