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* William Swofford; Had 2 Hit Songs as 'Oliver'

Obituaries

February 18, 2000

William Oliver Swofford, 54, a singer known as "Oliver" and best remembered for two 1960s hit recordings. The North Carolinian burst into popularity in 1969 with "Good Morning, Starshine" from the Broadway counterculture musical "Hair." Many artists recorded the song, but it was Oliver's version that became the hit, climbing to No. 3 on the pop charts. He followed that with "Jean" from the 1969 motion picture "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie," starring Maggie Smith as a Scots schoolteacher. That song hit No. 2 in the United States, giving the unknown singer two gold records in a single year. Oliver began performing as a teenager and continued singing while he was a student at the University of North Carolina. He worked with a campus bluegrass group and a country-rock band called the Good Earth. The latter won a recording contract in New York, and when the band broke up, Oliver inherited the contract. At that time he adopted the single name and made the two hits that guaranteed him three quick appearances on "The Ed Sullivan Show" and a decade of performing engagements across the country. But in 1982 he gave up music, moved to Dallas and worked in real estate and construction and as a sales representative for a pharmaceutical company. On Saturday in Shreveport, La., of cancer.

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