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Patti Page, Eydie Gorme and George Jones among notable singers who died in 2013

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During the year of 2013, there were a number of noteworthy deaths of prominent and influential people in connection with oldies pop music.

Included among the departed notables were Annette Funicello, Patti Page, Eydie Gorme and George Jones, and this article will attempt to recall and pay tribute to the legends who died in 2013 and left their respective legacies for fans of oldies music to enjoy forever.

A number of prominent male country-western vocalists passed away during the past 12 months, including such notables as Jones, Claude King, Slim Whitman, Ray Price and Jack Greene. And other famous male solo singers -- such as Jewel Akens, Alan O'Day and Richie Havens -- are also no longer with us.

In addition, the 2013 departures included members of prominent singing groups, including Ray Manzarek of The Doors, Reg Presley of The Troggs, Rick Huxley of The Dave Clark Five, Richard Street of The Temptations and Virgil Johnson of The Velvets.

Following are capsule summaries about the departed stars, and each report on a solo artist includes a video link to one of their top hit recordings.

Notable female songstresses who passed away in 2013

  • ANNETTE FUNICELLO: The former child star died April 8 at the age of 70 from complications related to multiple sclerosis. Best remembered for her time as a Mouseketeer on "The Mickey Mouse Club" from 1955 to 1957, she lost the ability to walk in 2004, and she lost the ability to speak in 2009. In the early 1960s, she starred in a series of "Beach Party" movies co-starring Frankie Avalon, and her biggest hit as a singer (among 10 Billboard Hot 100 singles) was "Tall Paul" (No. 7, 1959). MUSIC SAMPLE: "O Dio Mio" (No. 10, 1960).
  • PATTI PAGE: Unforgettable songs like "Tennessee Waltz" and "(How Much Is That) Doggie in the Window?" made her the best-selling female singer of the 1950s. Unspecified health problems finally stopped her decades of performing, and she died on New Year's Day in Encinitas, Calif., at the age of 85. At the time of her death, she was just five weeks away from being honored at the Grammy Awards with a Lifetime Achievement Award. MUSIC SAMPLE: "Tennessee Waltz" (No. 1, 1950).
  • EYDIE GORME: The longtime singer and TV performer who rose to prominence when The Steve Allen Show became The Tonight Show, died Aug. 10 at age 81 following an undisclosed illness. She often sang with her partner and husband of more than 55 years, Steve Lawrence. Born Aug. 26, 1931, in New York City, she sang with the Tommy Tucker and Tex Beneke orchestras in the late '40s. She not only spoke fluent Spanish, but she made many recordings in that language. MUSIC SAMPLE: "Blame It On The Bossa Nova" (No. 7, 1963).
  • GLORIA LYNNE: The jazz-style songstress from New York City, who got her start as a gospel singer, died of a heart attack on Oct. 15. MUSIC SAMPLE: "I Wish You Love" (No. 28, 1964).
  • FRAN WARREN: Her original 1947 recording of "A Sunday Kind of Love" (with Claude Thornhill's orchestra) was one of the classic hits of the big band era, and she died of natural causes at age 87 on March 4 at her home in Brookfield, Conn. Her career spanned more than 50 years as a singer and movie actress. MUSIC SAMPLE: "A Sunday Kind Of Love" (No. 15, 1947).

Among male recording artists who died during 2013

  • GEORGE JONES: The legendary C&W performer died April 26 at the age of 81 after being hospitalized in Nashville, Tenn., with a fever and irregular blood pressure. In the midst of a yearlong goodbye tour, he was forced to cancel a number of concerts, which had been scheduled to conclude in November. His long string of C&W chart successes included 14 No. 1s. MUSIC SAMPLE: "White Lightning" (No. 73, 1959).
  • CLAUDE KING: An original member of the Louisiana Hayride who was best known for the 1962 hit "Wolverton Mountain," he died March 7 at age 90 at his home in Shreveport, La., shortly after celebrating his birthday and 67th wedding anniversary. MUSIC SAMPLE: "Wolverton Mountain" (No. 6, 1962).
  • JEWEL AKENS: The R&B singer from Houston, best known for the song "The Birds and the Bees", died of complications from back surgery at age 79 on March 1. MUSIC SAMPLE: "The Birds And The Bees" (No. 3, 1965).
  • RAY PRICE: The Perryville, Texas, native who was raised in Dallas, charted more than 80 singles on Billboard's country-western charts, including 29 that went all the way to No. 1. Price died at his home of pancreatic cancer in Mt. Pleasant, Texas, on Dec. 16, at the age of 87. MUSIC SAMPLE: "For The Good Times" (No. 11, 1970).
  • LOU REED: The founding member of the rock band The Velvet Underground died on Oct. 27 of liver disease at the age of 71. After departing The Velvet Underground, he went solo, recording hits that included "Walk On the Wild Side" and "Satellite of Love." MUSIC SAMPLE: "Walk On The Wild Side" (No. 16, 1973).
  • ALAN O'DAY: The singer-songwriter, whose recording of "Undercover Angel" was a chart-topper in 1977, died in Hollywood, Calif., on May 17 at the age of 72. Among his writing credits was "Angie Baby" (No. 1, 1974) for Helen Reddy. MUSIC SAMPLE: "Undercover Angel" (No. 1, 1977).
  • MARVIN RAINWATER: The country and rockabilly singer, born Marvin Karlton Percy in Wichita, Kan., of Cherokee heritage, died on Sept. 17 at the age of 88. His biggest C&W hit was the crossover "Whole Lotta Woman." MUSIC SAMPLE: "Gonna Find Me A Bluebird" (No. 18, 1957).
  • BOB BECKHAM: The pop-country singer from Nashville, originally from Oklahoma, died on Nov. 11 at age 86. He had a pair of Top 40 crossover C&W hits. MUSIC SAMPLE: "Just As Much As Ever" (No. 32, 1959).
  • LARRY VERNE: The novelty singer from Minneapolis, who had a chart-topping single with "Mr. Custer", died of Alzheimer's disease on Oct. 8 at age 77. MUSIC SAMPLE: "Mr. Custer" (No. 1, 1960).
  • SLIM WHITMAN: The famed country singer died June 19 of heart failure at a Florida hospital at the age of 90. His tenor falsetto and ebony mustache and sideburns became global trademarks. MUSIC SAMPLE: "I'll Take You Home Again, Kathleen" (No. 93, 1957).
  • JACK GREENE: A longtime Grand Ole Opry star who earned fame with the hit "There Goes My Everything", died in Nashville March 14 at 83 from complications of Alzheimer's disease. The songdemonstrated his deep voice, and it earned him the single of the year and male vocalist of the year awards from the Country Music Association in 1967. MUSIC SAMPLE: "There Goes My Everything" (No. 65, 1967).
  • NOEL HARRISON: The British actor and musician who sang the Academy Award-winning ballad "The Windmills of Your Mind" died Oct. 19 at 79. He suffered a heart attack after a performance a few days earlier in southwest England, and died in a hospital. The son of actor Rex Harrison, he was a British champion Olympic skier before becoming a professional musician, and he moved to the U.S. during the British invasion. MUSIC SAMPLE: "A Young Girl" (No. 51, 1965).
  • RICHIE HAVENS: The folk singer and guitarist who was the first performer at the 1969 Woodstock Festival, died April 22 of a heart attack in New Jersey at age 72. Born in Brooklyn, he was known for crafty guitar work and cover songs, including his well-received cover of Bob Dylan's "Just Like a Woman." MUSIC SAMPLE: "Here Comes The Sun" (No. 16, 1971).

Deceased members of prominent vocal groups

  • PATTY ANDREWS: The last surviving member of the famous musical trio The Andrews Sisters, died of natural causes at age 94 on Jan. 30. The group is famous for such songs as "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" and "Rum And Coca-Cola."
  • CLARENCE BURKE JR.: The singer, songwriter, and guitarist for the Five Stairsteps, died at age 62 on May 25. The family soul group, produced by Curtis Mayfield, had their biggest hit with "O-o-h Child" (No. 8, 1970).
  • VIRGIL JOHNSON: The lead singer and organizer of the Odessa, Texas, doo-wop group The Velvets died at the age of 77. The quintet's biggest hit was "Tonight (Could Be The Night)", which reached No. 26 on Billboard in 1961.
  • TONY SHERIDAN: Best known as an early collaborator of The Beatles, he was one of two non-Beatles (along with Billy Preston) to receive performance credit on a record with the group, and the only non-Beatle to appear as lead singer on a Beatles recording. He died on Feb. 16 at age 72 in Hamburg, Germany, after undergoing heart surgery.
  • DICK DODD: The lead singer and drummer of The Standells -- the L.A. quartet most-famous for the song "Dirty Water" (No. 11, 1966) -- died of cancer at age 68 on Nov. 29. He was also an original Mouseketeer.
  • BOBBY SMITH: The R&B singer known best as a member of The Spinners, died at the age of 76 on March 16.
  • DAN TOLER: The guitarist and former member of the Allman Brothers Band died from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis on Feb. 25 at the age of 64.
  • RICK HUXLEY: The bass player for The Dave Clark Five died on Feb. 11 at age 72. He played on the band's signature hits, including "Bits and Pieces" (No. 4, 1964) and "Glad All Over" (No. 6, 1964).
  • RAY MANZAREK: One of the founding members of the Los Angeles rock band The Doors, he died of bile duct cancer at age 74 on May 20.
  • REG PRESLEY: The lead singer on The Troggs' chart-topping "Wild Thing" in 1966 died at his home in Andover, England, on Feb. 4 at age 71 after a year-long struggle with lung cancer.
  • CLEOTHA STAPLES: Her smooth, velvety voice bolstered the family gospel group The Staple Singers. Cleotha was the eldest sister and member of the group founded by her father Roebuck "Pops" Staples in the 1940s, and she died on Feb. 21 at age 78 because of Alzheimer's disease. The Staple Singers had a No. 1 song in 1972 with "I'll Take You There."
  • RICHARD STREET: The former member of The Temptations for 25 years passed away on Feb. 27 at age 70 after a short illness. He joined the famed Motown group in the early 1970s, remaining with the group until the mid-1990s.
  • PETER BANKS: The original guitarist for the British band Yes died of heart failure on March 7 at age 65. He was found in his London home after he didn't show up for a recording session.
  • LEROY "SUGARFOOT" BONNER: The lead singer of Ohio Players and the voice behind such No. 1 hits as "Fire" (1974) and "Love Rollercoaster" (1975) died Jan. 26 at age 69 following a battle with cancer.

[You may subscribe to Bill Herald's oldies music columns -- free of charge -- by clicking on "subscribe" near the top of the column, after which you will receive e-mail notification each time a new item is published].


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