Composer and producer Al Kasha earned his greatest fame co-writing the Academy Award-winning themes to two of the biggest disaster films of the early '70s, The Poseidon Adventure and The Towering Inferno. Born January 22, 1937, in New York City, Kasha began writing songs at the age of 17, penning a series of records for R&B legend Jackie Wilson including "My Empty Arms," "I'm Comin' Back to You," and "Forever and a Day." In 1960 Kasha signed as a staff producer with Columbia Records, where he notched a series of hits for crooner Steve Lawrence, most notably "Go Away, Little Girl" and "Don't Be Afraid, Little Darlin'." He also helmed the smash "Blame It on the Bossa Nova" for Lawrence's wife, Eydie Gorme, and collaborated with Aretha Franklin and Neil Diamond. In 1966, Kasha discovered a young Catskills comedian named Rodney Dangerfield, helping the standup shape his immortal "No respect" routine and financing his Decca debut LP, The Loser; he relocated to Los Angeles two years later, working for Clive Davis at CBS's Cinema Center Films for a year before accepting the presidency of National General Corporation's music division.
After National General went belly-up in 1971, Kasha returned to songwriting, establishing a long-running collaboration with Joel Hirschhorn. The partnership soon yielded huge dividends when their song "The Morning After" was featured in The Poseidon Adventure, the Hollywood blockbuster about a luxury liner capsized by a giant wave. Recorded by Maureen McGovern, "The Morning After" proved a major pop hit, and in 1973 won its authors an Academy Award. Hirschhorn and Kasha repeated the trick two years later with "We May Never Love Like This Again," their Oscar-winning theme to The Towering Inferno, an all-star feature spotlighting a high-rise engulfed in flames. The duo also earned Oscar nominations in 1977 for their score to the animated Pete's Dragon, with singer Helen Reddy's version of their "Candle on the Water" also nominated for Best Original Song. In 1981 Hirschhorn and Kasha turned to Broadway with the Tony-nominated Copperfield, a year later receiving another Tony bid for their work on the updated Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.
In all, Hirschhorn and Kasha's songs sold over 90 million records, and they even collaborated on three books: 1979's If They Ask You, You Can Write a Song, 1985's Notes on Broadway, and 1986's Reaching the Morning After. Apart from Hirschhorn, Kasha produced and directed the long-running Las Vegas revue Let the Good Times Roll, and produced the feature film Take This Job and Shove It. He also scored numerous animated productions for film and television. From 1995 to 1998, he served as president of The Family Channel's music division, from there founding his own Broadway production firm, the Kasha Entertainment Company, in addition to working on Rejoice, a musical written in collaboration with Grammy-winning producer and composer David Foster. In 2004, Kasha received the ASCAP Country Award for Sherrie Austin's Christian hit "Streets of Heaven." ~ Jason Ankeny