Thursday, July 16, 2015

Ernie Maresca and David Somerville RIP

Sadly, the catalogue of music deaths this year just gets longer and longer. There are two major figures in the world of doowop who have passed on in the last day or two.
Ernie Maresca, 76, wrote many of Dion's early hits including his two biggest Runaround Sue and the
Wanderer. A few years earlier he wrote No One Knows for Dion and the Belmonts and continued Dion's classic run in the early sixties by writing Lovers Who Wander and Donna The Prima Donna. As a performer he was a member of the Desires, who became the Regents and hit with Barbara Ann, but his greatest solo success was in 1962 when Shout Shout (Knock Yourself Out) became a massive US hit. Follow up singles were less successful but as a songwriter he continued to prosper with such hits as Runaround by the Regents and Hey Dean Hey Jean by Dean and Jean.
Another doowop great who has died is David Somerville, lead singer of the Diamonds, at the age of 81. Canadian group the Diamonds were a cover group making successful 'white' versions of R and B hits, but they were among the better cover bands of the time. After winning a talent show they were signed by Mercury records and had huge success with songs such as Why Do Fools Fall in Love, Church Bells May Ring, Silhouettes, Little Darlin' (reckoned by some to be better than the original by the Gladiolas - although not by me), and, a particular favourite of mine, The Stroll. Later records included Eternal Lovers, Kathy-O and She Say. David went on to sing with the Four Preps and also made a career in acting. I saw him perform at the Long Island Doowop Festival last year (pictured) and he was excellent on Why Do Falls Fool In Love, The Stroll, Silhouettes and Little Darlin'.
Other recent music deaths worthy of mention include Wendell Holmes of the Holmes Brothers, who I well remember enjoying at the Watermans Arts Centre in Brentford a few years back, Chris Squire, formerly of Yes, jazzman Ornette Coleman and middle of the road Irish entertainer Val Doonican. A final word too for two of the best known British actors of the last century - Hammer Horror star Christopher Lee and Patrick MacNee, who portrayed the English gent to perfection in The Avengers, one of my all time favourite programmes. The Vinyl Word raises a glass to them all.


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