Mike Melvoin was a "first-call pianist and keyboardist since the early 1960s" as well as a composer and the first active musician to serve as national president of the Recording Academy, the LA Times obit says. He died Wednesday at St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank. Melvoin was 74.
Among the numerous sessions in his lengthy resume, Melvoin played on such memorable recordings as Frank Sinatra's "That's Life," Natalie Cole's "Unforgettable," the Jackson 5's "ABC," and "Pet Sounds" and "Good Vibrations" by the Beach Boys.
"It was a marathon," Melvoin said, mentioning the "Good Vibrations" recording dates while describing the ups and downs of life as a studio musician. "Six double sessions," he recalled. "All for one song."
His name turns up with remarkable consistency among the backing players for one varied hit after another, including Helen Reddy's "I Am Woman," John Lennon's "Stand By Me," Barbra Streisand's "Evergreen" and Quincy Jones' all-star collective, "We Are the World."
Billy Strange, who also worked on "Pet Sounds," was a songwriter, arranger and session guitarist who wrote for Elvis Presley, the music for Chubby Checker's hit "Limbo Rock" and was a mainstay on "the Wrecking Crew" group of studio players in the 1960s. He arranged Nancy Sinatra's hits that decade, including "These Boots Are Made for Walkin.'" "I have played every kind of music in the world,” Strange said in a 2010 interview.“I’ve played rock and roll, did all the surf records, played with big orchestras. If they needed somebody in a small group who knew what the hell they were doing in the studio, that was me.” Born in Long Beach, he died last Wednesday in Franklin, Tenn. at age 81.
Lorin Levee, the principal clarinetist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic since 1981, died Wednesday in Los Angeles of a blood disorder. He was 61. His last concert was Jan. 8 at Walt Disney Concert Hall. He did not join the LA Phil's recent trip to Venezuela.