Thursday, June 9, 2011
Andrew Gold, 1951-2011
Andrew Gold, who died earlier this week, was born to be a pop star: His mother was Marni Nixon, once famous as the most prolific singing dubber in Hollywood. She dubbed Deborah Kerr in The King and I, Natalie Wood in West Side Story, and Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady. Gold's father was the Hollywood composer Ernest Gold. With so much entertainment royalty around, Andrew had a chance to meet the Beatles at the home of the head of Capitol Records in 1964. One thing he noticed was how dark Paul's hair was, and how red John's was.
Andrew joined Linda Ronstadt's band in 1973, and became one of the key players on her huge records of the 1970s. He played almost all the instruments on "You're No Good," for instance, including the guitar solo. Gold also was a crucial collaborator on Art Garfunkel's best album, Breakaway - he played just about everything on that LP, too. Gold's first solo album, 1975's Andrew Gold, didn't have any hits, although Leo Sayer made the song "Endless Flight" the title track to one of his own records. Gold cut his second album, 1976's What's Wrong With This Picture, at the same time as Linda Ronstadt's Hasten Down the Wind, using the same band and same producer (Peter Asher). "We would go in and cut alternating days and nights with Linda," said Gold, who also opened for her on the road.
What's Wrong had Gold's first and biggest hit, "Lonely Boy," which went to Number Seven in 1977. It was quite autobiographical: Gold really was born on a summer day in 1951, and in the summer of 1953, his parents really did bring him a sister. (They brought him another one in 1962.)
In 1978, his "Thank You for Being a Friend" - from his third solo album, All This and Heaven Too - was a more minor hit, peaking at Number 25. But it gained new legs in 1985 when a singer named Cynthia Fee cut an abridged version as the theme for The Golden Girls. With the decline of the scene that Robert Christgau liked to call "El Lay," Gold wasn't doing a whole lot else in the 1980s, so I'm sure the royalties were most welcome.
In the early 1980s, Gold was part of a duo called Wax with one of the guys from 10cc, and they had a few hits in Europe, but nothing here. In the 1990s, he formed a group with several other peripheral members of that 1970s El Lay scene: Wendy Waldman, Kenny Edwards and Karla Bonoff, for whom Gold had written and produced her biggest hit, 1982's "Personally." Gold also wrote and sang the theme song for Mad About You, which was so memorable that I could not for the life of me think of how it goes, until I found it here:
So by the end of his career, Andrew Gold had basically turned into his father, which is a fate that befalls many of us. Andrew Gold was only 59.