Hatfield of Righteous Brothers Dies at 63 Nov 6, 7:58 AM EST
Bobby Hatfield, whose soaring tenor blended with partner Bill Medley's silken baritone to create the "blue-eyed soul" of the Righteous Brothers, has died in a Kalamazoo hotel, his manager said. He was 63.
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An unearthly voice, and a body of work that included a series of classic recordings produced by Phil Spector.
From today's New York Times.
Bobby Hatfield, a Righteous Brothers Singer, Dies at 63
By BEN SISARIO Published: November 7, 2003
Bobby Hatfield, whose wholesomely passionate tenor carried the upper harmonies of the pop-soul duo the Righteous Brothers in hits like "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'," died on Wednesday in a hotel room in Kalamazoo, Mich. He was 63 and lived in Newport Beach, Calif.
The cause was unknown, said David Cohen, his manager. Mr. Hatfield's body was found in bed shortly before the Righteous Brothers were to perform at Western Michigan University, Mr. Cohen said.
Mr. Hatfield and his partner in the Righteous Brothers, Bill Medley, were deeply influenced by the intimate and expressive style of black soul singers, but unlike most previous white groups they sought to emulate the raw intensity of those singers. In hits like "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'," "Unchained Melody" and "(You're My) Soul and Inspiration," Mr. Medley and Mr. Hatfield channeled an emotional power that had rarely been heard in white pop.
Robert Lee Hatfield was born in Beaver Dam, Wis., and grew up in Anaheim, Calif. He is survived by his wife Linda; his sons Robert Jr., Kalin and Dustin; and a daughter, Vallyn, all of Newport Beach.
Mr. Hatfield attended Fullerton Junior College and Long Beach State University, both in California, and sang in groups that played at proms and fraternity dances. In 1962 Mr. Hatfield's group, the Variations, merged with Mr. Medley's, the Paramours. The men formed a duo later that year and reportedly took their name after a black fan exclaimed at one of their concerts, "That was righteous, brothers."
Unlike Elvis Presley or Jerry Lee Lewis before them, the Righteous Brothers maintained a well-scrubbed image. "Lovin' Feelin' " was a No. 1 hit in 1965 and has become one of the most popular songs in radio history. A spokeswoman for BMI, the music-licensing organization, said that the song had been broadcast more than 10 million times in the United States. But "Lovin' Feelin' " was an unlikely hit. Before it was recorded, the Righteous Brothers had only minimal success; the group's biggest hit was "Little Latin Lupe Lu," which reached No. 49 in 1963.
Phil Spector signed the group to his Philles label in 1964 and wrote "Lovin' Feelin' " for them with his songwriting team of Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. That hit was recorded with Mr. Spector's trademark "wall of sound" technique, with an abundance of instruments, including four acoustic guitars, three basses and three pianos. Mr. Medley sang the verses in a sonorous baritone and Mr. Hatfield joined in on the choruses with soaring harmonies.
Worried that the song was too long to be played by D.J.'s, Mr. Spector listed a false running time on the record's label. Instead of its actual length of 3 minutes and 50 seconds, the last two digits were reversed, so the label read 3:05.
The Righteous Brothers recorded several more hits with Mr. Spector, including "Unchained Melody," "Ebb Tide" and "Just Once in My Life," before signing a million-dollar contract with Verve Records. At Verve the group recorded another Mann-Weil song, "(You're My) Soul and Inspiration," with Mr. Medley as producer fastidiously recreating Mr. Spector's wall of sound. It became a No. 1 hit in 1966. In the mid-60's the group was also a regular act on the weekly television show "Shindig!"
The group broke up in 1968 and for a short time Mr. Hatfield retained the name the Righteous Brothers on tour, with Jimmy Walker filling in for Mr. Medley.
Mr. Hatfield and Mr. Medley reunited in 1974 and had a No. 3 hit with "Rock and Roll Heaven," a tribute to dead rock stars. Mr. Medley retired in 1976, but the two reunited again in 1983. The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland this year.
'Honeymooners' Actor Art Carney Dies Tue Nov 11, 7:52 PM ET
By MATT APUZZO, Associated Press Writer
HARTFORD, Conn. - Art Carney (news), who played Jackie Gleason (news)'s sewer worker pal Ed Norton in the TV classic "The Honeymooners" and went on to win the 1974 Oscar for best actor in "Harry and Tonto," has died at 85.
Carney died in Chester, Conn., on Sunday and was buried on Tuesday after a small, private funeral. He had been ill for some time.
The comic actor would be forever identified as Norton, Ralph Kramden's bowling buddy and not-too-bright upstairs neighbor on "The Honeymooners." The characters appeared in various forms from 1951 to 1956, and the show was revived briefly in 1971. The shows can still be seen on cable.
With his turned-up porkpie hat and unbuttoned vest over a white T-shirt, Carney's Ed Norton with his exuberant "Hey, Ralphie boy!" became an ideal foil for Gleason's blustery, bullying Kramden. Carney won three Emmys for his role and his first taste of fame.
"The first time I saw the guy act," Gleason once said, "I knew I would have to work twice as hard for my laughs. He was funny as hell."
In one episode, Norton and Ralph learn to golf from an instruction book. Told to "address the ball," Norton gives a wave of the hand and says, "Hellooooo, ball!" In another episode, Norton inadvertently wins the award for best costume at a Raccoon Lodge party by showing up in his sewer worker's gear. Another time, the loose-limbed Norton teaches Ralph a finger-popping new dance called the Hucklebuck.
"I loved Art Carney," said actor Billy Bob Thornton (news). "I was a huge fan of `The Honeymooners' and I loved Jackie Gleason, who was a genius. But I was probably more struck by Art Carney than Gleason. You just couldn't wait for him to come through the door again."
Carney told a Saturday Evening Post interviewer in 1961 that strangers were always asking him how he liked it down in the sewer. "I have seasonal answers," he said. "In the summer: `I like it down there because it's cool.' In the winter: `I like it down there because it's warm.' Then I've got one that isn't seasonal: `Go to hell.'"
After "The Honeymooners," Carney battled a drinking problem for several years. His behavior became erratic while co-starring with Walter Matthau (news) in the Broadway run of Neil Simon's "The Odd Couple" in the 1960s. He dropped out of the show and spent nearly half a year in a sanitarium.
His career resumed, and in 1974 he was cast in Paul Mazurksy's "Harry and Tonto" as a 72-year-old widower who travels from New York to Chicago with his pet cat. He stopped drinking during the making of the film.
When it won him his Oscar, Carney wisecracked: "You're looking at an actor whose price has just doubled."
"Art was, and is one of the most endearing men I have ever met," the late actress Audrey Meadows (the caustic Alice Kramden on "The Honeymooners") wrote in her 1994 memoir "Love, Alice." She called him a "witty and delightful companion who went out of his way to help each new actor find his niche" on the show.
Carney was born into an Irish-Catholic family in Mount Vernon, N.Y., on Nov. 4, 1918, and baptized Arthur William Matthew Carney. His father was a newspaperman and publicist.
After appearing in amateur theatricals and imitating radio personalities, Carney won a job in 1937 traveling with Horace Heidt's dance band, doing his impressions and singing novelty songs.
"There I was, an 18-year-old mimic rooming with a blind whistler," he told People magazine in 1974. "He would order gin and grapefruit juice for us in the morning, and it was great. ... No responsibilities, no remorse. I was an alcoholic, even then."
Later he won a job at $225 a week imitating Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and other world leaders on a radio show, "Report to the Nation."
He was drafted into the Army in 1944 and took part in the D-Day landing at Normandy. A piece of shrapnel shattered his right leg. He was left with a leg three-quarters of an inch shorter than the other and a lifelong limp.
Carney returned to radio as second banana on comedy shows, then ventured into television on "The Morey Amsterdam Show" in 1948. That brought him to the attention of Gleason.
Among his movie credits: "W.W. and the Dixie Dance Kings," "The Late Show," "House Calls," "Movie Movie," "Sunburn," "Going in Style," "Roadie," "Firestarter," "The Muppets Take Manhattan" and "Last Action Hero."
Around Westbrook, where he and his wife had a waterfront home, Carney was known around town as "Mr. C."
Family friend Janice Buglini remembered how Carney came to cheer up her 11-year-old daughter, who had leukemia. "He would bring ice cream over for her, and a lobster — anything she wanted," Buglini said.
Carney married his high school sweetheart, Jean Myers, in 1940. After the marriage broke up, Carney married Barbara Isaac in 1966. They divorced 10 years later, and in 1980 he and his first wife remarried.
"We always kept in touch because of our three children," he said in a 1980 AP interview. "After our second divorces, it was sort of like the puppy coming home: `Oh, it's you, come on in.' We decided to give it a go again."
For those of us who grew up in the Chicago area in the 60's and 70's the trio of death is complete. Earlier in 2003 Fred Rogers of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood which was seen on channel 11 locally died. Last week Ray Raynor, a fixture in children's programming in Chicago for years died. It is interesting to note that Ray also played Oliver O' Oliver the clown on Bozo's Circus and Sgt. Pettibone on the Dick Tracey show. I personally had the opprotunity to appear on the Ray Raynor and Friends show. And finally Bob Keeshan who player Captain Kangaroo as noted passed just the other day. Suddenly I feel so much older.
Posts: 902 | From: Joliet,IL.USA | Registered: Oct 2001
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Of course, celebrities die every year, but it seems that 2003 saw the deaths of quite a lot of them. More than most other years. Posts: 61 | From: Sacramento, CA, USA | Registered: Sep 1999
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Another great voice that created memories in the night on the transistor radio next to the bed, in the car or at the shore (That's the beach for you non-Jersey folks.)
From today's New York Times.
Doris Troy, Pop Singer Whose Life Inspired a Show, Dies at 67
By BEN SISARIO Published: February 19, 2004
Doris Troy, the big-voiced soul singer of the 1963 hit "Just One Look," whose life story was the inspiration for the long-running musical "Mama, I Want to Sing," died on Monday in a hospital in Las Vegas. She was 67 and lived in Las Vegas.
The cause was emphysema, said Ken Wydro, her brother-in-law.
Ms. Troy's career bridged gospel, soul and rock music. After singing in the choir of her father's church in Harlem, she began working as a backup singer for Solomon Burke, the Drifters, Chuck Jackson and others. She also wrote her own songs, and one of her first, "Just One Look," released by Atlantic and written with Gregory Carroll, became a Top 10 hit in 1963. The next year the Hollies' version of it reached No. 2 in the British pop charts, and it was later recorded by Linda Ronstadt, Harry Nilsson and Bryan Ferry.
Ms. Troy's other songs for Atlantic during this period — including "What'cha Gonna Do About It?," also recorded by the Hollies — had more success in Britain than in America, and in the late 60's she moved to London. She recorded an album for the Beatles' Apple label in 1970 with a starry group of musicians from the rock world that included George Harrison, Eric Clapton and Billy Preston.
She became a much sought after backup singer for rock bands: her voice is on the Rolling Stones' 1969 song "You Can't Always Get What You Want" and Pink Floyd's 1973 album "Dark Side of the Moon," among many other recordings. She returned to the United States in the 1970's and settled in Las Vegas, singing in the nightclubs there.
In March 1983, "Mama, I Want to Sing," a musical based on Ms. Troy's life, opened at the Heckscher Theater in Harlem. Written by Ms. Troy's younger sister Vy Higginsen and Mr. Wydro, who is Ms. Higginsen's husband, the show told the story of a young woman named Doris Winter who sings in a gospel choir and becomes an international pop star.
The next year Time magazine called it one of New York's 10 best stage offerings, and it has had an extraordinarily long life on tour. Ms. Troy sang the role of her mother, Geraldine, from early 1984 until 1998, toured with it throughout the country and took it to London and Japan. The show is to begin a 20th-anniversary run on Saturday at the Williams C. M. E. Church on Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard in Harlem.
Born Doris Higginson, Ms. Troy took her name from Helen of Troy; for her songwriting credits she used the surname Payne, after her maternal grandmother.
In addition to her sister Vy, of Manhattan, Ms. Troy is survived by another sister, Joyce Davis, of Fort Lee, N.J.