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Music industry obituaries for June 2014

Farewell to lyricist Gerry Goffin, broadcaster Casey Kasem, country artist Jimmy C. Newman, jazzman Jimmy Scott, producer Don Davis, oboist David Weiss and singer Herb Jeffries.

Obituaries by The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Gerry Goffin, 75, the prolific and multi-dimensional lyricist who, with then-wife and songwriting partner Carole King, wrote such hits as “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” and “The Loco-Motion,” died June 19, 2014.

Goffin penned more than 50 Top 40 hits, including “Pleasant Valley Sunday” for The Monkees, “Some Kind of Wonderful” for The Drifters, “Take Good Care of My Baby” for Bobby Vee and “Savin’ All My Love For You” for Whitney Houston.

Goffin’s lyrics could veer from romantic to defiant to silly to sad. His love affair with King, to whom he was married from 1959 to 1968, is the subject of the Tony Award-nominated “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.” Goffin later garnered an Academy Award nomination with Michael Masser for the theme to the 1975 film “Mahogany” for Diana Ross and earned a Golden Globe nomination for “So Sad the Song” in 1977 from the film “Pipe Dreams.”

Goffin was born in Brooklyn in 1939 and was working as an assistant chemist when he met King at Queens College. A whirlwind romance led to a marriage and their first hit, when she was only 17 and he was 20, “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” for The Shirelles, which a pregnant King helped write while suffering morning sickness. Both quit their day jobs to focus on music, and other songs followed, including “Up on the Roof” for the Drifters, “One Fine Day” for the Chiffons and “Chains,” which was later covered by the Beatles. Goffin’s later songwriting efforts include “Tonight I Celebrate My Love,” a duet recorded by Peabo Bryson and Roberta Flack and “Miss You Like Crazy” sung by Natalie Cole.”


Casey Kasem publicity photo.

Casey Kasem publicity photo.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Casey Kasem, 82, the internationally famous radio broadcaster whose cheerful manner and gentle voice made him the king of the Top 40 countdown with his syndicated “American Top 40” show that ran for decades, died Sunday, June 15, 2014. He was 82, and had been in ill health in recent years.

Kasem’s “American Top 40” began on July 4, 1970, in Los Angeles, when the No. 1 song was Three Dog Night’s cover of Randy Newman’s “Mama Told Me Not to Come.” The show expanded to hundreds of stations, including Armed Forces Radio, and continued in varying forms — and for varying syndicators — into the 21st century. In his signoff, Kasem would tell listeners: “And don’t forget: Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.” Kasem stepped down from “American Top 40” in 2004 and was replaced by Ryan Seacrest. Kasem retired altogether in 2009, completing his musical journey with Shinedown’s “Second Chance.”

Born Kemal Amin Kasem in 1932 in Detroit, the son of Lebanese immigrants, he began his broadcasting career in the radio club at Detroit’s Northwestern High School and was soon a disc jockey on WJBK radio in Detroit, initially calling himself Kemal Kasem. He later changed his first name to Casey, because he felt his given first name just didn’t work for a deejay.

He had been doing a run-of-the-mill screaming deejay show in San Francisco in the early 1960s when his boss suggested he talk about the records instead. Kasem became known for introducing countdown records with sympathetic background anecdotes about the singers, and for his long-distance dedications of songs sent in by listeners. Kasem’s legacy reached beyond music. He lent his voice to Shaggy on the cartoon “Scooby-Doo,” and his voice was featured in numerous commercials.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Grand Ole Opry member Jimmy C. Newman, 86, known for mixing Cajun and country music, died June 21, 2014, after a brief illness. He was 86.

Originally from Louisiana, Newman joined the Opry in 1956 and last performed there on June 6, with his band, Cajun Country. His hits include “A Fallen Star” and “Cry, Cry, Darling,” as well as the Cajun-infused “Alligator Man” and “Bayou Talk.”


LAS VEGAS (AP) — Jimmy Scott, 88, a jazzman with an ethereal man-child voice who found success late in life with the Grammy-nominated album “All the Way,” died June 12, 2014. He had battled problems related to Kallman’s syndrome, the same genetic hormone deficiency that gave him his signature high voice.

Jimmy Scott publicity photo

Scott was born July 17, 1925, in Cleveland. His first claim to fame came in 1949 when he recorded the vocals as “Little Jimmy Scott” for the Lionel Hampton Band’s “Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool,” though his name was not on the record.

A dispute with Savoy Records prevented Scott from making an album in the 1950s produced by Ray Charles. The company blocked Scott’s efforts to release new records for nearly 20 years. By then, Scott had returned to Cleveland, where he was working as a hotel clerk and nursing home aide.

At age 67, Scott was rediscovered by a Warner Bros. Records executive, and the result was his 1992 comeback album, “All the Way.” Although it sold only 49,000 copies in the U.S., it earned him cult-like popularity in Europe and Asia, particularly Japan, where he often sold out performances. Scott went on to release several more recordings, including the jazz-gospel album “Heaven,” for the Sire and Milestone labels. He performed with the likes of Elton John, Lou Reed, Michael Stipe and Sting. Despite his youthful sound, Scott brought heavy emotion to his delivery, often dramatically drawing out lyrics and singing far behind the beat and winning praise from his peers.

In 2007, he received the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master Award. Although Scott stopped touring two years ago, he continued recording until about a month before his death.


DETROIT (AP) — Musician, producer, composer and business executive Don Davis died June 5, 2014, after a brief illness. He was 75.

A session musician during the 1960s at Motown Records, Davis later went to work for Memphis, Tenn.-based Stax Records and started the independent Groovesville label. He co-wrote and co-produced “Who’s Making Love,” a 1968 Stax hit for Johnnie Taylor. Davis also served as chairman and CEO of Detroit-based First Independence Bank.


David Weiss publicity photo.

David Weiss publicity photo.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — David Weiss, a world-renowned oboist who also mastered the musical saw, died May 24, 2014. He was 67.

Weiss was principal oboist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic for 30 years. He was introduced to the musical saw at a 1981 New Year’s Eve party.

Using a violin bow and a cross-cut saw, he played everything from the Beatles to Stravinsky and performed at the Hollywood Bowl, Lincoln Center and Disneyland. He appeared on “The Tonight Show’’ with Johnny Carson and the soundtrack to the film “O Brother, Where Art Thou?’’


Herb Jeffries publicity photo.

Herb Jeffries publicity photo.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Singer and actor Herb Jeffries, 100, known for his role as a singing cowboy in a series of all-black Westerns, died May 25, 2014.

Jeffries scored a big hit with Duke Ellington as the vocalist on “Flamingo,” which was recorded in 1940 and later covered by white singer Tony Martin. He also teamed up with Ellington for “There Shall Be No Night” and “You, You Darlin’.”

The only black singing cowboy star in Hollywood history, Jeffries starred as Bob Blake in the “Bronze Buckaroo” Westerns aimed at black audiences from 1937 to 1939. He was teamed up with his horse, Stardusk, the vocal group the Four Tones and character actor Mantan Morelan, who provided comic relief.

Jeffries remained active as a singer into his 80s and 90s, touring and putting out the 1995 CD “The Bronze Buckaroo (Rides Again),” following it up in 2000, with “The Duke and I.” He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2004. GM