September 21, 2008 in Nation/World

Norman Whitfield, Motown songwriter

 

Norman Whitfield, who co-wrote a string of Motown classics, including “War” and “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” has died. He was 67.

A spokeswoman at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center said Whitfield died Tuesday at the hospital. Published reports say he suffered from complications of diabetes.

Whitfield was a longtime Motown producer who, during the 1960s and ’70s, injected rock and psychedelic touches into the label’s soul music.

Many of his biggest hits were co-written with Barrett Strong. In 2004, Whitfield and Strong were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

The two won the Grammy in 1972 for best R&B song for the Temptations’ “Papa Was a Rolling Stone.” Whitfield won another Grammy in 1976 for best original TV or motion picture score for “Car Wash.”

LONDON

Richard Wright, Pink Floyd member

Richard Wright, a founding member of Pink Floyd, has died. He was 65.

The rock group’s spokesman, Doug Wright, who’s unrelated, said Wright died last Monday from cancer at his home in Britain.

Wright met Pink Floyd members Roger Waters and Nick Mason in college and joined their early band, Sigma 6. Along with the late Syd Barrett, the four formed Pink Floyd in 1965.

In the early days of Pink Floyd, Wright, along with Barrett, was seen as the group’s dominant musical force. The London-born musician and son of a biochemist wrote songs and played the keyboard.

“Rick’s keyboards were an integral part of the Pink Floyd sound,” said Joe Boyd, a prominent record producer who worked with Pink Floyd early in its career.

Tensions among Waters, Wright and fellow band member David Gilmour came to a head during the making of “The Wall,” when Waters insisted Wright be fired. As a result, Wright was relegated to session musician on the tour of “The Wall” and did not perform on Pink Floyd’s 1983 album, “The Final Cut.”

NASHVILLE, Tenn.

Johnny Hayes, fundraiser for Gore

Johnny Hayes, a prominent Democratic fundraiser who managed finances for the two presidential campaigns of former Vice President Al Gore, died Saturday. He was 67.

His family issued a statement through Deputy Gov. Stuart Brunson saying Hayes died of stomach cancer at his home in Sideview, about 30 miles northeast of Nashville.

Hayes first managed Gore’s campaign finances when he was elected to the U.S. House in 1976 and for his subsequent Senate victories. As a fellow Tennessee native and longtime Gore confidant, Hayes was tapped to lead the finance effort for Gore’s presidential bids in 1988 and 2000.

“He was a great friend and a wonderful ally,” Gore said in a statement. “I never would have been elected to Congress without him. He was the key, for me and for many others.”

After being sworn in as vice president in 1993, Gore also nominated Hayes to become a director of the Tennessee Valley Authority. In 1999, Hayes left the country’s largest public utility to become chief fundraiser for Gore’s 2000 presidential race.

After Gore lost to George W. Bush, Hayes was hired to lobby Congress on behalf of electric wholesaler Enron Corp., which collapsed in late 2001.

Hayes also was known for gathering an extensive collection of political memorabilia, including a copper button from George Washington’s inauguration, a ticket to Andrew Johnson’s impeachment trial and an Abraham Lincoln campaign banner.

From wire reports

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