The song became Whitney's third #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 and also topped Billboard's adult contemporary chart. The song was successful internationally, topping the charts in Australia & Canada and was also successful in Austria, Finland, Ireland, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, where it reached #8 on the U.K. Singles chart.
Whitney won the American Music Award for "Favorite Soul/R&B Video" and was nominated for a Grammy Award for "Record of the Year" & a Soul Train Music Award for "Single of the Year." It was certified gold in the United States and Canada.
Many critics called the song the centerpiece of Whitney's debut album. Stephen Holden of The New York Times wrote that:
"Houston sings it with a forceful directness that gives its message of self-worth an astounding resonance and conviction" and called the song a compelling assertion of spiritual devotion, black pride, and family loyalty, all at once.
Don Shewey of Rolling Stone wrote that as the song builds, Whitney "slowly pours on the soul, slips in some churchy phrasing, holds notes a little longer and shows off her glorious voice."
Controversy arose in April of 1987 when singer Gordon Lightfoot filed a lawsuit against Michael Masser alleging that "The Greatest Love of All" stole 24 bars from Gordon's 1969 hit song, "If You Could Read My Mind. According to Maclean, Gordon commented:
"It really rubbed me the wrong way. I don't want the present-day generation to think that I stole my song from him."
Song History & BackgroundEdit
The song was originally recorded by George Benson for the 1977 Muhammad Ali film, "The Greatest." Linda Creed wrote the lyrics in the midst of her struggle with breast cancer. The words of the song describe her feeligns about coping with great challenges that one must face in life & being strong during those challenges whether you succeed or fail, & passing that strength onto children to carry with them into their adult lives.
At the time the song was an international hit song by Whitney, Linda passed away from breast cancer in April of 1986 when she was only 36 years old. Clive Davis was initially against Whitney recording the song for her debut album, but eventually he gave in after being persuaded by Whitney and Michael Masser. The song was released as the B-side to "You Give Good Love" and was eventually released as a single in its own right.
Whitney's album version of "Greatest Love of All" begins with a piano intro while the single version of the song begins with a keyboard intro. After the single became a succes, it replaced the original album version on subsequent versions of the album, but the original version was restored for the 20th Deluxe Anniversary edition reissue of Whitney's debut album.
The video was filmed at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York. In the video, Whitney is a successful singer about to perform in front of an audience and reminisces about the time she was a child performing in a talent competition and receiving encouragement from her mother, played by Cissy Houston as herself supporting Whitney as a child.
Song Chart PerformanceEdit
|Australia (Kent Music Report)||1|
|Finland (Suomen virallinen lista)||16|
|Italy (Musica e dischi)||13|
|Germany (Media Control AG)||30|
|Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)||24|
|New Zealand (RIANZ)||12|
|Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)||20|
|UK Singles Chart||8|
|US Billboard Hot 100||1|
|US Billboard Hot Black Singles||3|
|US Billboard Adult Contemporary||1|
|U.S. Billboard Hot 100||41|