"The Greatest Love of All" is a song written by composers Michael Masser (music) and Linda Creed (lyrics). It was originally recorded in 1977 by American singer and guitarist George Benson, who made the song a substantial hit, peaking at #2 on the R&B chart that year, the first R&B chart Top Ten hit for Arista Records. Eight years later, the song became even more well known for a version by Whitney Houston, whose 1985 cover (with the slightly amended title "Greatest Love of All") eventually topped the charts, peaking at #1 in Australia, Canada and the U.S. in 1986, reaching #1 on the R&B chart, also by Arista Records.
"The Greatest Love of All" was written as the main theme of the 1977 film "The Greatest", a biopic of Muhammad Ali. Michael Masser wrote the music; he was later accused by Gordon Lightfoot of plagiarizing 24 bars of his 1971 hit "If You Could Read My Mind". (Specifically, the part of the song that begins "I decided long ago..." bears a marked compositional similarity to Lightfoot's passage in "If You Could Read My Mind" that begins "I never thought I could feel this way...") Lightfoot eventually dropped the suit out of respect for singer Whitney Houston.
Linda Creed wrote the lyrics in the midst of her struggle with breast cancer. The title "The Greatest Love of All" refers to one's love for oneself. Nine years after the song was written, Creed ended up being the victim of cancer and she died on April 10, 1986 at the age of 37.
The song was further popularized by Whitney Houston under the title "Greatest Love of All". The song was recorded by the American recording artist for her debut album, self-titled Whitney Houston, which was released in February 1985, by Arista Records. The song became a major hit, topping the charts in Australia, Canada and the US, while reaching the top 20 in most countries, including Italy, Sweden and the UK. It remains her third biggest US hit, after "I Will Always Love You" and "I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)". All three songs, in order of their former popularity, re-entered the Billboard Hot 100 chart, after Houston's death, debuting the same week at numbers 7, 35 and 41, respectively, giving Houston three posthumous chart hits.
Clive Davis, founder of Houston's label Arista Records, was initially against Houston recording the song for her debut studio album, Whitney Houston, but he eventually gave in after persuasion from Houston and Masser. It was released as the B-side to the single "You Give Good Love", a previous Top 5 hit by Houston. The song, eventually released as a single in its own right, on March 18, 1986, was the seventh release from Houston's debut album, and spent three weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in May of that year.
Houston's album version features a piano intro, while the single version begins with a keyboard intro. After the single became a success, it replaced the original album version on subsequent pressings of the album. However, the original version was restored for the 2010 Deluxe Anniversary Edition reissue of the album.
Her live performance in 1990 in the 15th anniversary of Arista Records concert in Radio City Music Hall was included in the 25th anniversary deluxe edition of Whitney Houston and the 2014 CD/DVD release, Whitney Houston Live: Her Greatest Performances. File Hashes
HASH2: C921A235005B30C1 (MP3)
HASH2: 5AE084A6FB266349 (FLAC)