Obituaries: Drake Levin, Hart McNee, Twyla Herbert, Tom Wilkes, Allen Klein, Michael Klenfner and Ray Durkee

by  Goldmine Staff and The Associated Press

Drake Levin, the youngest member of the ’60s pop group Paul Revere And The Raiders, died July 4 at the age of 62, losing a battle with cancer that began in the ’90s.

Paul Revere And The Raiders were the first rock group signed to Columbia Records. They released 23 consecutive hit singles from 1962 to 1974 and collected seven gold albums. Guitarist Drake joined the group in 1963 at 16 years of age, having to leave high school to go on the road with the Raiders. His last tour with the original group was April 1967, although a 30-year reunion concert of the four original Raiders came in 1997.

After leaving the Raiders in 1967, Drake, Phil “Fang” Volk and Mike Smith formed The Brotherhood and recorded three albums for RCA.

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Hart McNee, the raspy-voiced bass flutist and baritone saxophonist and a longtime musical fixture in New Orleans, San Francisco and his native Chicago, died July 14. He was 66.

While attending the University of Wisconsin, McNee played sax with both Boz Scaggs and Steve Miller.

After military service, McNee moved to San Francisco, where he played with such bluesmen and revivalists as Otis Rush, John Lee Hooker and Michael Bloomfield.

In 1990, he moved to New Orleans, where he played with groups including the Naked Orchestra, Los Vecinos, the Storyville Stompers, Mas Mamones, Moyuba, Coco Robicheaux and John Boutte.

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According to Lightning Strikes Music, 87-year-old Twyla Herbert, Lou Christie’s writing partner, has died.

The two met when Christie was 15 years old. Their partnership of 50 years produced, among other titles, the hit singles “The Gypsy Cried,” “Two Faces Have I,” “Trapeze,” “Rhapsody In The Rain” and “Lightning Strikes.”

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Album-cover artist and designer Tom Wilkes died June 28 at the age of 69.

In 1967, Wilkes was the art director of the Monterey International Pop Festival. He created all graphics and printed materials for Monterey Pop, including the program book and the festival’s psychedelic and iconic foil poster.

He was the art director for A&M Records in the late ’60s and for ABC Records in the ’70s. Wilkes designed and directed such hit record covers as Rolling Stones’ Flowers and Beggars Banquet, Neil Young’s Harvest and George Harrison’s Concert for Bangladesh and All Things Must Pass.

He received a Grammy Award in 1974 for Best Recording Package for The Who’s rock opera Tommy, as performed by the London Symphony Orchestra & Choir.

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Allen Klein, music-industry manager and founder of ABKCO Music & Records, died July 4 after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer’s. He was 77.

Klein was one of the most powerful figures in the music business in the 1960s but ended up feuding with some of his biggest clients. An accountant known for his brashness, temper and tenacity in tracking down royalties and getting better record deals, Klein’s clients included Sam Cooke, Bobby Darin and Herman’s Hermits.

But he became most famous for signing on The Rolling Stones and The Beatles. Klein represented The Beatles in renegotiations between Apple and EMI in 1969 which resulted in their being granted the highest royalty rate ever paid to an artist up to that time. Both arrangements eventually spurred lawsuits, with some Beatles fans blaming Klein for contributing to the tensions that broke up the group. Following the Beatles split, he continued to work with John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

In 2006, Klein was the recipient of the Abe Olman Publisher Award presented by the Songwriters Hall of Fame in recognition of his career-long leadership position in music publishing.

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Michael Klenfner, a former Atlantic Records music executive who helped transform the Blues Brothers from a “Saturday Night Live” skit into Grammy Award-nominated recording artists, died July 14 at the age of 62.

In the 1970s, Klenfner helped comedians Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi take their “SNL” act about an American blues and soul revivalist band to the top of the charts.

Klenfner later helped steer Cher’s comeback with her 1998 hit “Believe.” He promoted hundreds of other musicians in a career spanning more than 30 years.

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Denver radio personality Ray Durkee died June 28 at the age of 70. Durkee was best known for his syndicated show “Sunday at the Memories,” which played oldies music, old radio shows and even vintage commercials. Durkee began the show at KHOW in 1976; it was carried by 100 stations at its peak.

by  Goldmine Staff and The Associated Press

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