Monday, April 13, 2015

Keith McCormack Songwriter Musician Dies

October 19, 1940 - April 10, 2015

Keith McCormack  singer, guitarist and songwriter died April 10th. Keith was best known for the 1961 hit single Wheels. The tune peaked at #3 on the Billboard, it sold over a million copies and was  awarded a gold disc. Keith also wrote another song that was a big hit, Sugar Shack, which was recorded by Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs. McCormack stated in an interview that one night he wrote most of the song Sugar Shack but asked his aunt (Faye Voss) what black skin-tight pants were called. She said 'Leotards' and so they more/less finished the song together.

Keith's grandmother bought him his first guitar when he was 13. Keith and his friends Aubrey de Cordova and Richard Stephens took guitar lessons. Keith's mother saved up enough money for a master tape at the Norman Petty studio. Norman Petty was a record producer who handled Buddy Holly. In 1958 Petty signed the group known as the Leen Teens. Their first release was a vocal called So Shy, which Petty sold to Imperial Records. During one recording session Keith was unable to sing due to a sore throat. Petty suggested they record an instrumental he had written. The tune was Wheels, and Petty sold it to Warwick records, he also changed the name of the group to The String-A-Longs. In September of 1961 the tune hit the hot 100 and ended up being the 8th biggest record of the year.  

Keith loved the outdoors and operated a lawn and landscaping service in his last years. Keith McCormack died of a stroke on Friday in Springfield, Mo., where he lived, he was 74. No funeral services are planned.

The String-A-Longs - Wheels 

Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs - Sugar Shack

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