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Obituaries

Dick St. John, 63; Singer in Duo Dick & Dee Dee

December 30, 2003|From Associated Press

Dick St. John, half of the Dick & Dee Dee duo, whose 1961 hit "The Mountain's High" made No. 2 on the Billboard pop singles chart, has died. He was 63.

St. John died Saturday morning at UCLA Medical Center, according to Judith Capps, a family friend.

Capps said St. John died from injuries he sustained after falling from a ladder outside his Pacific Palisades home on Friday.

St. John, born Richard Gosting in Santa Monica, began performing with his friend Mary Sperling in junior high. With St. John as the chief songwriter, the two soon attracted the attention of Liberty Records in Los Angeles, then one of the hottest independent record labels in the country.

St. John and Sperling, who was quickly renamed "Dee Dee" by the label, joined an eclectic roster that ranged from early rock 'n' roll to country music and included such stars as Willie Nelson, June Carter, Bobby Vee, Johnny Burnette, The Rivingtons and Jan and Dean.

Dick & Dee Dee reflected the mixture of influences that characterized the early '60s American pop music scene, combining elements of doo-wop, soul and R&B in their sound. They toured with the Beach Boys and Rolling Stones.

The group's biggest hit was "The Mountain's High," but they also cracked the Top 25 pop singles chart in 1963 with "Young and In Love" and 1965's "Thou Shalt Not Steal." Dick & Dee Dee were semi-regulars on such musical shows as "Shindig" and "American Bandstand."

St. John wrote songs that were recorded by Lesley Gore, Jan and Dean and Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons; he also contributed music to many television shows.

St. John continued to record and perform regularly until his death.

He is survived by his wife, Sandy, who joined him as the "new" Dee Dee in his touring act when Sperling retired in the early 1970s.

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