Without music, the jokes on "Saturday Night Live" just wouldn't land the same.
McKinnon kicked off the homage, explaining: "Everything at 'SNL' happens really quickly ... Some of the sketches that the writers write are more cinematic in quality, and so they need to be scored more like a movie in order for them to make sense ... The music becomes such an integral part of the sketch."
She then revealed the person behind the music, Willner, only had a few hours to get it done each show.
"We lost him this week," she said before describing him as "one of the coolest and most passionate and good-natured."
Next came Adam Sandler. "We are going to miss you so damn much. You are just a great man, great person," he said.
Sandler's heartfelt speech was followed by more A-list remembrances.
"We're all going to miss his presence and passing him in the hallways," Kenan Thompson said.
"When I was at 'SNL,' he used to come up to my dressing room and just share music with me," Fred Armisen recalled.
“I don’t know why someone who was already friends with Miles Davis had a big enough heart to include me in their life, but he did,” said John Mulaney, who also posted a moving tribute on Instagram.
"He and I talked a lot just about being fathers," shared Bill Hader.
"Hal has always just treated me with open arms," Davidson added. "Just want to say that you will be very well missed, and we're all thinking about you, and we love you very much."
The tribute turned into a tear-jerker as Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Molly Shannon, Ana Gasteyer and more covered Lou Reed's "Perfect Day" in perfect unison.
The 'SNL' video also featured clips of Willner sharing what he loved about working on the show.
"The live thing is what's really exciting to me," he said. "It's cool. It's an amazing gig ... When it's all working, there's nothing like it."
Willner joined SNL in 1980 and also worked as a music producer, collaborating with the likes of Lou Reed, Laurie Anderson and Marianne Faithfull.