Skip to main content
Publish date:

Obituaries: Kingston Trio's John Stewart, Elvis' costume designer Bill Belew and more!

Say farewell to several key figures in music: The Kingston Trio's John Stewart; Elvis' costumer designer Bill Belew; Ames Brothers singer Joe Ames; Roomful of Blues trumpeter Bob Enos; Capitol Records talent scout Ken Nelson and Lowery Music Group co-founder Billie Lowery.

John Stewart, 68, a member of the folk music group Kingston Trio who also was known for writing The Monkees’ most enduring hit, “Daydream Believer,” died Jan. 19, 2008, at a San Diego, Calif., hospital after suffering a brain aneurysm.

Stewart replaced Dave Guard in the Kingston Trio in 1961. Shortly before the Monkees released “Daydream Believer’’ in 1967, Stewart left the trio. He went on to record nearly four dozen solo albums, including California Bloodlines and Bombs Away Dream Babies. He also wrote “Runaway Train,’’ a country hit for Roseanne Cash, and “Strange Rivers.’’


Costume designer Bill Belew, who created Elvis Presley’s jumpsuits and the tight black leather outfit The King wore on his 1968 television special, died Jan. 7, 2008, after battling diabetes. He was 76.

In his nearly 50-year career, Belew designed costumes for many stars of stage, screen and television, ranging from Ella Fitzgerald to Gloria Estefan.


Joe Ames, the deep-voiced anchor and eldest member of the 1950s hit singing group the Ames Brothers, died Dec. 22, 2007, at a hospital, several days after suffering a heart attack He was 86.

Joe Ames and brothers Ed, Gene and Vic were one of the most popular quartets in the decades before the advent of rock ‘n’ roll. For nearly three decades, the Ames Brothers built a career that included eight gold records and regular appearances on TV, in fancy nightclubs and Las Vegas. They had international hits such as “The Naughty Lady of Shady Lane’’ and sang a variety of styles, from folk songs to rhythm and blues. They were Billboard magazine’s best vocal group of the year in 1958.

The group disbanded in the early 1960s. In 1965, Joe Ames moved to Germany, where he produced and managed other talents and conceived and developed musical programs for German public television channel ZDF.


Bob Enos, who played trumpet in the band Roomful of Blues for 26 years, died at a Douglas, Ga., hotel Jan. 11, 2008, while touring with the band. He was 60.

Officials said Enos appeared to have died in his sleep of natural causes hours after playing a concert at the Douglas Country Club. His last album with Roomful of Blues, Raisin’ a Ruckus, recently was released on Alligator Records.

Enos took up the trumpet at 14 and studied at the New England Conservatory of Music. Before joining Roomful of Blues, he toured with The Platters and the jazz-fusion group Channel One.


Ken Nelson, a longtime talent scout at Capitol Records who produced dozens of #1 country music hits and helped push Buck Owens and Merle Haggard to country stardom in the 1960s, died of natural causes on Jan. 6, 2008, at his Somis, Calif., home. He was 96.

A co-founder of the Nashville-based Country Music Association who spent more than two decades in charge of Capitol’s country music division, Nelson produced upward of 100 #1 country hits and signed talent including Roy Clark, Jerry Reed, Rose Maddox and Gene Vincent.


Billie Lowery
, 84, who co-founded Lowery Music Group with her husband, Bill, died Dec. 8, 2007, in Atlanta.

The couple founded the Lowery Music Group in 1952. With a library of nearly 7,000 songs, Lowery was one of the largest independent music companies in America when Sony acquired it in 1999.

Its artists included the