This song was written by Dean Pitchford and Michael Gore for the Disco singer Linda Clifford.
She sang the song “Red Light,” which Pitchford and Gore wrote, for the 1980 movie Fame, and the pair wrote this for her 1982 album I’ll Keep On Loving You, which is where it first appeared. Clifford’s version didn’t take off, and the song was recorded later that year by Sister Sledge as a duet with David Simmons. The song became a massive hit when Whitney Houston’s mentor Clive Davis heard the song and had Houston record it.
When we spoke with Dean Pitchford in 2012, we asked him if there was a personal inspiration for this song. He replied: “Michael Gore and I knew we were writing for Linda Clifford, and we wrote the album in the way that you would write any kind of an album, where we had our up-tempos and we had our ballads, and we needed a ballad to balance everything out. So that definitely fulfilled that particular need.
It was a luxury to be able to write an array of songs and try to cover all the bases. You didn’t want to write an album’s worth of ballads or an album’s worth of up-tempo. Linda Clifford had been known as a disco diva – she had a big hit with a disco version of ‘If They Could See Me Now,’ and then she had a hit with our song, ‘Red Light,’ and then even off of that album that Michael and I worked on with her, she had a hit called ‘Don’t Come Crying to Me.’
Her biggest fan base was the dance clubs. But we knew we needed a ballad for her, so ‘All The Man That I Need’ specifically addressed that need.”
When this song became a huge hit, its lyricist Dean Pitchford had been dating a swimmer for about 6 months, who would later become his husband. Said Pitchford: “A lot of his teammates, knowing that he had just met me, joked, ‘Oh, you’ve only known Dean a short time and already he’s written a song about you,’ because it was all over the radio for months and months.”
Pitchford, who is best known for writing the screenplay and the songs for Footloose, decided that he should write a song for his husband, which turned out to be “If I Never Met You,” recorded by Barbra Streisand.
Luther Vandross switched the gender on this song and recorded it as “All the Woman I Need” in 1994.
Vandross had a history with the song’s writers Dean Pitchford and Michael Gore, as he sang backup and did arrangements for the songs in the movie Fame and on Linda Clifford’s original version of this song. It was Vandross who came up with the “remember, remember…” backing vocals on the song “Fame,” which Pitchford and Gore wrote. songfacts.com