Who was Peter Willis?
Peter Willis was the consummate journalist – relentless in pursuit of a story and glittering company on a night out. As well as a beloved friend and colleague, he was an editor who led by experience, having done it all.
He played drums with Prince inside the star’s home, and rode on Michael Jackson’s tour bus as the King of Pop blew kisses to fans out of the window.
Peter Willis, who has died aged 54, knew all the showbiz royalty from Elton John to Cilla Black, met every modern-day PM and was a regular visitor to Highgrove after years of supporting The Prince’s Trust.
Peter Willis Biography, Wiki
Peter Willis was the founder of the Pride of Britain Awards, an extraordinary annual miracle, where inspirational “ordinary” people are celebrated by royalty, Cabinet ministers and global superstars.
Born in London, Peter Willis was the son of teachers Ruth and Stan Willis and brother to twin sisters, Susan and Jennifer. He spent some of his early life in French Guiana, where his parents taught at a mission school. The family moved to Manchester and then Buxton in Derbyshire, where he attended Buxton College and was a regular on hospital radio at the Devonshire Royal in the town.
He left school at 18 to work on the Manchester Evening News. As his school friend Jonathan Brown remembers: “Newspapers were in Peter’s blood.
His story-gathering skills were brilliant, and even if celebrity or political egos were sometimes bruised, they forgave him because of his enormous charm.
He also threw the best office parties, bringing in celebrity DJs. He was so competitive he once gave the features department the afternoon off to get the best fancy-dress outfits for the Christmas party to outdo the newsdesk.
Peter Willis Career
Peter Willis worked at the Sun, the Express and the Star before joining the Mirror in 1997 after being hired by the then editor Piers Morgan as launch editor of the Saturday magazine The Look. It was the start of a 23-year career on the paper, where he found a natural home.
“When everyone were stacking shelves as teenagers, Peter Willis was already getting centre-spreads in newspapers.”
After a long and legendary stint as features editor, he became editor from 2012 to 2018. Later, he was editor of the Sunday Mirror and Sunday People, and most recently was Mirror executive editor.
In 1988, Peter Willis travelled on Michael Jackson’s Bad Tour through Rome and 14 other cities as the Sun’s official Jacko Correspondent, staying with the star’s entourage and travelling with him on his tour bus.
Peter Willis Death, Reason Of Death
Sun editor Victoria Newton said: “Peter is remembered at The Sun as a brilliant story-getter and a kind, much-loved colleague. With his infectious enthusiasm for newspapers, he was always on hand to help those around him. Peter will be sadly missed by all those who knew him.”
Last night, Piers Morgan wrote on Twitter: “RIP Peter Willis.
“He was a brilliant journalist, a loving husband & father, and a loyal, decent, kind & caring friend of mine for 30 years. Heart-breaking news. Thanks for everything Pete.”
Jim Mullen, chief executive of Mirror owner Reach, said: “I am deeply saddened by the loss of Peter and my sympathies go out to his family and friends.”
He leaves wife Nicky and their two boys Theo, ten, and Henry, eight.