Musician Ray Kennedy Dies at 67
Singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Raymond Louis Kennedy has passed away at the age of 67. During his long tenure in the music business, Kennedy wrote songs for or with the Beach Boys, Fleetwood Mac and others.
Kennedy started his career as a regular on Dick Clark’s ‘American Bandstand,’ eventually graduating to the member of the “band” who’d mime the saxophone parts of the performers’ songs. After ending his stint on the show, he hit the road as a freelance fill-in performer for a wide variety of acts, ranging from Dizzy Gillespie and Gene Krupa to Little Richard and Otis Redding.
By the mid-’60s, Kennedy was a full-time recording artist in his own right, signing a deal with Atlantic as half of the duo Jon and Ray and working on an LP that — while ultimately unreleased — found Kennedy and partner Jon Misland working with a roster that included producers Phil Spector and Arif Mardin. He closed out the decade as a member of Group Therapy, releasing a pair of albums before the group disbanded and Kennedy pursued a solo career in 1970.
It was during the ’70s that Kennedy found some of his greatest success, co-writing a number of songs covered by other artists (including the Beach Boys classic ‘Sail On, Sailor’ as well as the Babys’ ‘Isn’t It Time’ and ‘Every Time I Think of You’) and co-founding the group KGB with Barry Goldberg and Michael Bloomfield. KGB proved short-lived, lasting only long enough to produce a pair of albums, but Kennedy’s career continued unimpeded; in 1980, he released his second solo LP, ‘Ray Kennedy.’
He spent the ’80s engaged in an eclectic array of pursuits, from contributing to the music for the 1988 Olympics to opening a studio and touring with Aerosmith and the Michael Schenker Group; he also enjoyed a long professional association with Englebert Humperdinck and worked with Wayne Newton before beginning a brief songwriting partnership with Mick Fleetwood that produced ‘These Strange Times,’ the closing track on Fleetwood Mac’s 1995 ‘Time’ album.