Linda Diane Creed (December 6, 1948 – April 10, 1986), also known by her married name Linda Epstein, was an American singer-songwriter and lyricist who teamed up with songwriter-producer Thom Bell to produce some of the most successful Philadelphia soul groups of the 1970s.
Born in the Mount Airy section of Philadelphia in December 1948, Creed was active in music at Germantown High School. After graduation, Creed decided against college and devoted her energies to writing and producing music. Her career was launched in 1970 when singer Dusty Springfield recorded her song “Free Girl.” That same year, Creed teamed with Bell, a staff writer, producer, and arranger at Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff’s record label Philadelphia International Records.
Their first songwriting collaboration, “Stop, Look, Listen (To Your Heart)”, became a Top 40 pop hit for the Stylistics, beginning an extended collaboration that also yielded the group’s most successful recordings, including “You Are Everything”, “Betcha by Golly, Wow”, “Break Up to Make Up”, “People Make the World Go Round”, “You Make Me Feel Brand New,” and “I’m Stone in Love with You” (the latter with Anthony Bell). Creed and Bell also paired on a number of hits for the Spinners, including “Ghetto Child”, “I’m Coming Home”, “Living a Little, Laughing a Little”, and “The Rubberband Man.” Linda Creed also worked with fellow Pennsylvania native Phyllis Hyman on many of her songs, most notably “Old Friend.”
Though diagnosed with breast cancer at 26, Creed kept on working, teaming with composer Michael Masser and writing the lyrics to the song “The Greatest Love of All”, the main theme of the film “The Greatest”, a biopic of the great boxer Muhammad Ali, launched in 1977. The song was originally recorded by George Benson and released as a single in 1977, becoming a big hit, peaked at #2 on the R&B chart. The lyrics of the song were written in the midst of her struggle with breast cancer. The words describe her feelings about coping with great challenges that one must face in life, being strong during those challenges whether you succeed or fail, and passing that strength on to children to carry with them into their adult lives. In December of 1984, the song was recorded by Whitney Houston for her 1985 self-titled debut album and it would top the charts in May of 1986. Weeks before Houston reached number one, Creed died of breast cancer on April 10, 1986, at the age of 37. She was survived by her husband, Stephen “Eppy” Epstein, a longtime music promoter around Philadelphia, and their two daughters, Roni Lee and Dana Creed.
The following year, her family and friends established the Linda Creed Breast Cancer Foundation. In 1992 she was posthumously inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.