Wind Beneath My Wings

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"Wind Beneath My Wings" (sometimes titled "The Wind Beneath My Wings" and "Hero") is a song written in 1982 by Jeff Silbar and Larry Henley.[1]

The song was first recorded[2] by Kamahl in 1982 for a country and western album he was recording. Kamahl talked about being the first to record the song in an appearance on Australian TV show Spicks and Specks, but stated it was not commercially released because it was felt he did not suit the country and western style. Instead, Roger Whittaker recorded the song, as well as Sheena Easton and Lee Greenwood. The song appeared shortly thereafter in charted versions by Colleen Hewett (1982), Lou Rawls (1983), Gladys Knight & the Pips (1983), and Gary Morris (1983).

The highest-charting version of the song to date was recorded in 1988 by singer and actress Bette Midler for the soundtrack to the film Beaches. This version was released as a single in early 1989, spent one week at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in June 1989, and won Grammy Awards for both Record of the Year and Song of the Year in February 1990. On October 24, 1991, Midler's single was also certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for shipment of one million copies in the United States. In 2004, Midler's version finished at No. 44 in AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs survey of top tunes in American cinema. Perry Como recorded the song for his final studio album Today, released by RCA Records in 1987. Como wanted "Wind Beneath My Wings" released as a single, but RCA refused; Como was reportedly so angry he vowed to never record for RCA Records ever again.

In a 2002 UK poll, "Wind Beneath My Wings" was found to be the most-played song at British funerals.[3]


Several years earlier, Henley had written a poem with the same title for his ex-wife. One day, when the two men sat down to write a song for Bob Seger, Silbar saw that Henley had written that title on his legal pad, and was inspired by those words to write the song. Apart from the title, the song did not incorporate any of the text of the original poem. Henley wrote the lyrics and Silbar wrote the music.[4]

Silbar and Henley recorded a demo of the song, which they gave to musician Bob Montgomery. Montgomery then recorded his own demo version of the song, changing it from the mid-tempo version he was given to a ballad. Silbar and Henley then offered the song to many artists, which eventually resulted in Roger Whittaker becoming the first to release the song commercially. It appears on his 1982 studio album, also titled The Wind Beneath My Wings.

The song was shortly thereafter recorded by Australian artist Colleen Hewett and released by Avenue Records in 1982. Hewitt's recording became the first version of the song to be issued as a single and to appear on a national chart, peaking at No. 52 on Australia's Kent Music Report chart.

The first year "Wind Beneath My Wings" appeared on music industry trade publication charts in the United States was 1983. Singer Lou Rawls was the first to score a major hit with the song, as his version peaked at No. 10 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, No. 60 on the Billboard Hot Black Singles chart, and No. 65 on the main Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.[5]

Gladys Knight & the Pips also released a recording of the song in 1983 under the title "Hero". Their version peaked at No. 64 on Billboard's Hot Black Singles chart[5] while also reaching No. 23 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary chart.

Singer Gary Morris released a country version of the song in 1983. Morris's version of the song peaked at No. 4 on Billboard's Hot Country Singles chart and later won both the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association awards for Song of the Year.

Lou Rawls version[edit]

"The Wind Beneath My Wings"
Single by Lou Rawls
from the album When the Night Comes
B-side"Midnight Sunshine"
ReleasedMarch 1983
LabelEpic 34-03758
Songwriter(s)L. Henley, J. Silbar
Producer(s)Ron Haffkine
Lou Rawls singles chronology
"Let Me Show You How"
"The Wind Beneath My Wings"
"Upside Down"

Lou Rawls was the first to land the song on a music chart in the US.[6] The up-tempo version by Rawls was released in March 1983 on Epic 34-03758. It was backed with "Midnight Sunshine".[7][8] It appeared on his album, When the Night Comes.[9] It spent six weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and on April 16, 1983, it peaked at no. 65.[10] It also got to no. 60 on the R&B chart.[11] Rawls once performed a twelve-minute live version of the song at a concert in Elgin, Illinois.[12]


Chart (1983) Peak
Canada Adult Contemporary (RPM)[13] 8
US Billboard Hot 100 65
US Adult Contemporary (Billboard) 10
US Hot Black Singles (Billboard) 60

Gary Morris version[edit]

"The Wind Beneath My Wings"
Single by Gary Morris
from the album Why Lady Why
B-side"The Way I Love You Tonight"
ReleasedAugust 6, 1983
LabelWarner Bros.
Songwriter(s)Larry Henley and Jeff Silbar
Producer(s)Jimmy Bowen
Gary Morris singles chronology
"The Love She Found in Me"
"The Wind Beneath My Wings"
"Why Lady Why"

"Wind Beneath My Wings" was recorded by American country music artist Gary Morris and reached the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart. It was named Song of the Year by both the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association.


Chart (1984) Peak
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[14] 4
Canada Country Tracks (RPM) 10

Bette Midler version[edit]

"Wind Beneath My Wings"
Bette Midler-Wind Beneath My Wings.jpg
Single by Bette Midler
from the album Beaches: Original Soundtrack Recording
B-side"Oh Industry"
ReleasedFebruary 1989
Length4:18 (edit)
4:54 (album and 7" version)
Songwriter(s)Larry Henley and Jeff Silbar
Producer(s)Arif Mardin
Bette Midler singles chronology
"Under the Boardwalk"
"Wind Beneath My Wings"
"From a Distance"
Music video
"Wind Beneath My Wings" on YouTube

"Wind Beneath My Wings" was performed by Bette Midler for the soundtrack of the film Beaches and became a US number-one single. Marc Shaiman, Midler's longtime music arranger, was already a fan of the song and suggested it to her when they were identifying songs she could perform during the film.[4] The song was named Record of the Year and Song of the Year at the Grammy Awards of 1990. The song became a worldwide hit; it charted at No. 5 in the UK, No. 2 in Iceland, No. 4 in New Zealand, and No. 1 in Australia. Midler performed the song, with the fictional character Krusty the Clown, on season 4 episode 22 of The Simpsons in 1993. In the days following the September 11 attacks in 2001, she performed the song live at the Prayer for America memorial service held at Yankee Stadium.[15] In 2014, Midler performed the song following the annual in memoriam montage at the 86th Academy Awards.[16]

Critical reception[edit]

AllMusic editor Heather Phares said that Midler turned this "inspirational love song" into "an epic pop song". She also noted Midler's "demonstrative interpretation".[17] Stephen Holden from The New York Times noted in his review of the Beaches soundtrack, that "one is reminded of just how powerful a pop singer Ms. Midler can be when handed the right song and an arrangement that doesn't constrict her brash, larger-than-life personality." He added that "the most effective numbers are dramatic ballads" like "Wind Beneath My Wings".[18] A reviewer from People Magazine wrote that the song "articulates the movie's theme of enduring friendship, and Midler's heartfelt delivery conveys the message a lot more succinctly and satisfyingly than the film."[19] The Stage noted that the song, "a cabaret favourite for several years now", has been "given a new lease of life because it has been recorded by Bette Midler."[20] John Louie from The Stanford Daily called it a "sweet, melodious ballad".[21]

Music video[edit]

The music video for "Wind Beneath My Wings" was made in black-and-white. It opens with a light-haired girl meeting a lonely dark-haired girl under the dock on a beach. They befriend each other and walk along the beach together. Occasionally throughout the video, Midler performs on a stage, dressed in a black dress and long curly hair. Her arms are crossed. The girls dance on the beach until the dark-haired finds a long stick, which she writes in the sand with. The light-haired girl continues to dance alone. Toward the end, the dark-haired girl drops to the sand and starts digging in it. She finds a doll buried in the sand and pushes it to her chest. As the video ends, the light-haired girl goes beyond the horizon. The video was later published on YouTube in September 2014. It has amassed more than 15.2 million views as of October 2021.[22]

Track listing[edit]

Note: Released in 1996



Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[36] Gold 400,000double-dagger
United States (RIAA)[37] Platinum 1,000,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.
double-dagger Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

Other versions[edit]

In the 1990s, two English actor/singers released their versions as singles. Bill Tarmey's version in 1993, from his debut album A Gift of Love, reached No. 40 on the UK Singles Chart,[38] while Steven Houghton's version from his self-titled debut album, reached No. 3 in 1997[39] and No. 21 in Ireland.

Idina Menzel sang "Wind Beneath My Wings" as a duet with Kristen Bell at her successful audition for the 2013 film Frozen.[40] She sang it again for the 2017 film Beaches, a remake of the same film in which Bette Midler's version of the song debuted.[41]


  1. ^ Kawashima, Dale. "Songwriter Jeff Silbar: How He Co-Wrote The Classic Hit, 'Wind Beneath My Wings'". SongwriterUniverse. Retrieved February 11, 2012.
  2. ^ "Spicks and Specks" Episode #6.32 (TV Episode 2010) - IMDb, 8 September 2010, retrieved June 2, 2019
  3. ^ "Midler and Dion top funeral chart". BBC News. August 5, 2002. Retrieved April 1, 2014.
  4. ^ a b Bronson, Fred (2003). The Billboard Book of Number 1 Hits (5th ed.). New York: Billboard Books. p. 731. ISBN 9780823076772. Retrieved 23 December 2020.
  5. ^ a b Billboard, April 13, 1996, p. 106
  6. ^ Who Did It First?: Great Pop Cover Songs and Their Original Artists, By Bob Leszczak - Page 229
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  8. ^ 45Cat - Record Details, Artist: Lou Rawls, Catalogue: 34-03758
  9. ^ AllMusic - Lou Rawls, '"When the Night Comes AllMusic Review by Andrew Hamilton
  10. ^ - Lou Rawls | Chart History, Wind Beneath My Wings
  11. ^ Billboard, April 13, 1996 - Page 106 CHART BEAT, 'I Will Survive' Becomes Savage by Fred Bronson
  12. ^ CMJ New Music Monthly, February 2001 - Page 54
  13. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". 1983-06-11. Retrieved 2021-01-24.
  14. ^ "Gary Morris Chart History (Hot Country Songs)". Billboard.
  15. ^ "'Prayer for America' embraces many faiths". September 23, 2001. Retrieved July 8, 2019.
  16. ^ Harrison, Lily (March 2, 2014). "Bette Midler Sings During Oscars In Memoriam Tribute Honoring James Gandolfini, Philip Seymour Hoffman and More". E! Entertainment Television. Retrieved March 3, 2014.
  17. ^ Phares, Heather. "Bette Midler - Wind Beneath My Wings". AllMusic. Retrieved March 23, 2020.
  18. ^ Holden, Stephen (December 21, 1988). "The Pop Life". The New York Times. Retrieved April 4, 2020.
  19. ^ "Picks and Pans Review: Beaches". People. May 1, 1989. Retrieved March 10, 2020.
  20. ^ "Sing a song in season". The Stage. August 3, 1989. page 10. Retrieved March 29, 2020.
  21. ^ Louie, John (January 18, 1990). "Temptation to pick a winner overwhelms critics". The Stanford Daily. Retrieved April 25, 2020.
  22. ^ "Bette Midler - Wind Beneath My Wings (Official Music Video)". YouTube. September 23, 2014. Retrieved October 9, 2021.
  23. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". 1989-06-19. Retrieved 2021-01-28.
  24. ^ "Eurochart Hot 100" (PDF). Music & Media. July 29, 1989. Retrieved September 25, 2020.
  25. ^ "Íslenski Listinn Topp 10 (25. ágúst 1989)" (PDF) (in Icelandic). Dagblaðið Vísir. Retrieved July 24, 2018. {{cite magazine}}: Cite magazine requires |magazine= (help)
  26. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Wind Beneath My Wings". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved January 28, 2021.
  27. ^ "BETTE MIDLER - WIND BENEATH MY WINGS" (in Dutch). Retrieved July 25, 2021.
  28. ^ "Bette Midler Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  29. ^ "Bette Midler Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard.
  30. ^ "Wind Beneath My Wings by Bette Midler - Music Charts".
  31. ^ "Top Singles - Volume 51, No. 8, December 23, 1989". RPM. December 23, 1999. Archived from the original on September 7, 2017. Retrieved November 22, 2017.
  32. ^ "Year End Singles". Record Mirror. January 27, 1990. p. 44.
  33. ^ "1989 The Year in Music: Top Pop Singles". Billboard. Vol. 101, no. 51. December 23, 1989. p. Y-22.
  34. ^ "Longbored Surfer - 1989".
  35. ^ "Adult Contemporary Songs – Year-End 1989". Billboard. Retrieved March 11, 2021.
  36. ^ "British single certifications – Bette Midler – Wind Beneath My Wings". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved December 15, 2021.
  37. ^ "American single certifications – Bette Midler – Wind Beneath My Wings". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved December 15, 2021.
  38. ^ "BILL TARMEY | full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company".
  39. ^ "STEVEN HOUGHTON | full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company".
  40. ^ "Tangled – Secret Phone Recording Helped Idina Menzel Land New Disney Role". November 1, 2013. Retrieved March 23, 2014.
  41. ^ Hale, Mike (January 20, 2017). "Review: They've, Sob, Remade 'Beaches'". The New York Times. Retrieved December 31, 2019.