SYLVIA MOY, MOTOWN SONGWRITER WHO WORKED WITH STEVIE WONDER
Sylvia Moy, a Motown songwriter and producer who collaborated with Stevie Wonder on “Uptight (Everything’s Alright)” and “My Cherie Amour,” and who was a co-writer of hits for the Marvin Gaye-Kim Weston duet and the Isley Brothers, died on Saturday in Dearborn, Mich. She was 78.
Her sister Anita Moy said that the cause was complications of pneumonia.
Sylvia Moy’s arrival at Motown in 1964 coincided with the company’s concerns about the future of Mr. Wonder’s career. A year earlier, “Fingertips Pt. 2,” a mostly instrumental number that showcased the 13-year-old prodigy’s virtuosity on the harmonica, reached No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 and R&B charts.
But his subsequent recordings were not as successful, and Motown executives were uncertain what to do with him as he grew into adulthood.
“There was an announcement in a meeting that Stevie’s voice had changed, and they didn’t know exactly how to handle that,” Ms. Moy said in an interview after her induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2006. “They asked for volunteers. None of the guys would volunteer. They were going to have to let him go.”
Whether Berry Gordy Jr., Motown’s founder and patriarch, would have released an artist as talented as Mr. Wonder is debatable. But Mr. Gordy did not have to make the decision. After the meeting, Ms. Moy beseeched Mickey Stevenson, the head of artists and repertoire at Motown, to give her a chance to work with Mr. Wonder.
She said that she asked Mr. Wonder to play some of the “ditties” he had been working on, but she heard nothing that sounded like a hit. Then, as she was leaving, he played one final snippet of music for her and sang, “Baby, everything is all right.” There wasn’t much more, she recalled, and she told him that she would take it home and work on the melody and lyrics.
With the songwriting help of Henry Cosby, a Motown producer, “Uptight” was completed.
In the recording studio, though, there was no transcription of the lyrics into Braille for Mr. Wonder to read from. So Ms. Moy sang the words to him through his earphones.
“I would stay a line ahead of him and we didn’t miss a beat,” she said in a video interview in 2014 with Michelle Wilson, an independent producer based in Virginia Beach.
“It’s certainly true that Sylvia found his sweet spot with the material,” Adam White, who wrote the book “Motown: The Sound of Young America” (2016) with the longtime Motown executive Barney Ales, said in a telephone interview. “She brought a fresh approach, a musical discipline and a rapport that produced songs of a high caliber.”
“Uptight” topped the R&B chart and rose to No. 3 on Billboard’s Hot 100. It also led to further work for Ms. Moy with Mr. Wonder and Mr. Cosby on songs like “My Cherie Amour” (1969), “Nothing’s Too Good for My Baby” (1966) and “I Was Made to Love Her” (1967), which included Mr. Wonder’s mother, Lula Mae Hardaway, as a co-writer. Ms. Moy said that Mr. Wonder’s title for “My Cherie Amour” had been “Oh, My Marcia,” but she gave it a French twist.
She also collaborated with Mr. Stevenson on “It Takes Two,” recorded by Mr. Gaye and Ms. Weston, which reached No. 14 on the Hot 100 in 1967. She wrote “This Old Heart of Mine,” a No. 12 hit for the Isley Brothers in 1966, with Lamont Dozier and Brian and Eddie Holland, one of Motown’s most prolific songwriting teams.
Sylvia Rose Moy was born on Sept. 15, 1938, in Detroit, where, she told The Detroit Free Press, she “played the piano on the radiator and made musical instruments out of food boxes.” She told Mr. White that her father, Melvin, an appliance repairman, and her mother, the former Hazel Redgell, a homemaker, were the inspirations for “I Was Made to Love Her.”
After high school, Ms. Moy traveled to New York City to promote her songs but found no takers. One rejection from a record company executive stuck to her for decades. “You’re not a bad singer, but I want to give you some advice you can use for the rest of your life,” she recalled him telling her, “You will never be a songwriter.”
When Ms. Moy returned home to Detroit, she sang at the Caucus Club, where Mr. Gaye and Mr. Stevenson invited her to Motown. The label signed her to recording, management and songwriter contracts.
The songs that had been spurned in New York were welcomed at Motown. But she was told that singing would have to wait; songwriting took precedence. She also produced records at Motown, making her its second notable woman producer after Mr. Gordy’s second wife, Raynoma Gordy Singleton, who died last year.
Ms. Moy left Motown in 1973 when the company moved to Los Angeles and signed with 20th Century Records as a singer, songwriter and producer. She also worked as a mentor to young people interested in the arts.
In addition to her sister Anita, she is survived by four other sisters, Angel Moy-Adams, Celeste Moy-Street, Francetta Moy-Johnson and Merrill Moy-Thompson, and two brothers, Melvin and Christopher. She never married and had no children, Anita Moy said.
At Ms. Moy’s induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, Mr. Wonder sang “My Cherie Amour.” In an interview afterward, he praised her for finding “unique ways to take the melodies I wrote and putting them into a lyric that was incredible, that touched many hearts.”
ERIN MORAN, WHO PLAYED JOANIE ON ‘HAPPY DAYS’
The Harrison County Sheriff’s Department in southern Indiana confirmed her death. She was found unresponsive on Saturday afternoon, and the authorities said an autopsy was pending.
Ms. Moran started acting at 5, and got her first taste of television in a commercial for First Federal Bank. She went on to play minor characters in television and film in the late 1960s and early ’70s. At 12, she landed her biggest role: Joanie, the freckle-faced troublemaker and sister of Richie Cunningham, the all-American teenager played by Ron Howard.
Over the 10-year run of “Happy Days,” Joanie transformed from the young teenager who complained about being sent to her room to a major character on the show. In later seasons, Joanie’s love interest with the aspiring musician Chachi Arcola became a major story line.
In 1982, the two characters were given their own show, “Joanie Loves Chachi,” a widely panned comedy that followed their romantic adventures and musical pursuits in Chicago. While “Happy Days” was a No. 1 hit, the spinoff with Ms. Moran and Scott Baio, who played Chachi, lasted only 17 episodes.
The end of the show also ushered in a swift downfall for Ms. Moran’s acting career and her opportunities in Hollywood. She was only 22 when the show ended, but despite minor appearances on other shows, she never held another leading role.
After the shows were over, Ms. Moran opened up about the downsides of growing up on screen and under the Hollywood spotlight. She said that shortly before her 15th birthday, producers on “Happy Days” began to pressure her to watch what she ate and to wear more revealing outfits. “They suddenly wanted me to lose weight and become this sexy thing,” she said in an interview in 1983.
“I wanted time off to reassess my life and career,” Ms. Moran told the newspaper. “I had to ask myself, ‘Do I really want to keep doing this, or do I want to sit back and take it easy for five years, 10 years?’”
Erin Marie Moran was born Oct. 18, 1960, in Burbank, Calif., and raised in North Hollywood with five siblings. She was the second-youngest child of Sharon and Edward Moran. Her father was a finance manager. Her mother encouraged her acting career and signed her up with an agent at 5.
Before playing Joanie, Ms. Moran played an orphan on the show “Daktari” and a daughter on “The Don Rickles Show.”
Later in her life, she moved to Indiana with her second husband, Steve Fleischmann.
A complete list of survivors was not immediately available.
BARKLEY L. HENDDRICKS, PORTRAITIST OF A NEW BLACK PRIDE
Barkley L. Hendricks, a painter who gave new representation to ordinary black men and women, memorializing them in portraits that echoed the grand manner of the old masters, died on Tuesday in New London, Conn. He was 72.
His wife, Susan, said that the cause was a cerebral hemorrhage.
While touring Europe as an undergraduate art student in the mid-1960s, Mr. Hendricks fell in love with the portrait style of artists like van Dyck and Velázquez. His immersion in the Western canon, however, left him troubled. In his visits to the museums and churches of Britain, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands, he saw virtually no black subjects. His own race was, in effect, a void in Western art.
As the Black Power movement unfolded around him, he set about correcting the balance, in life-size portraits of friends, relatives and strangers encountered on the street that communicated a new assertiveness and pride among black Americans.
“Lawdy Mama,” one of his first portraits, showed a young woman with an enormous Afro looking impassively at the viewer. Although her dress was modern, the arched top of the canvas and background in gold leaf suggested a Byzantine icon.
“As an added note of audacity, he paints into the reflections of the mirrored sunglasses the figure is wearing two little cityscapes and what may be a miniature self-portrait of the artist himself at work,” the critic Hilton Kramer wrote of the painting in The New York Times. “It is all quite stunning.”
Mr. Hendricks often used himself as a subject. In “Icon for My Man Superman” (1969), he appeared, arms crossed, wearing a Superman jersey and sunglasses, naked from the waist down. The painting’s subtitle, “Superman Never Saved Any Black People,” echoed a remark by Bobby Seale, a founder of the Black Panther Party.
In his sardonic 1977 painting “Brilliantly Endowed (Self Portrait)” — its title borrowed from Mr. Kramer’s review — he stood naked except for a pair of drooping striped tube socks and a floppy white cap perched on his head. A toothpick at the corner of his mouth, balanced at a jaunty angle, accentuated the relaxed so-what? attitude of the pose.
Mr. Hendricks resisted classification as a political painter, or as a black painter for that matter. The subject of “Lawdy Mama,” he liked to point out, was not a militant, despite the Angela Davis Afro, but a second cousin.
“My paintings were about people that were part of my life,” he told the art newspaper The Brooklyn Rail in 2016. “If they were political, it’s because they were a reflection of the culture we were drowning in.”
Barkley Leonnard Hendricks was born on April 16, 1945, in Philadelphia. His father, also named Barkley, was a construction worker turned contractor, and his mother, the former Ruby Powell, was a homemaker who later worked as a teacher’s aide.
After graduating from Simon Gratz High School in 1963, he enrolled in the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where he studied with the black landscape painter Louis Sloan, earning a certificate in 1967.
At a time when minimalism, abstraction and conceptual art ruled the day, Mr. Hendricks’s work was profoundly out of fashion. “I didn’t care what was being done by other artists or what was happening around me,” he told The Brooklyn Rail. “I was dealing with what I wanted to do. Period.”
He gravitated toward photography and studied for a year under Walker Evans, for whom he produced a portfolio of photographs taken at the Port Authority bus station in Manhattan, as he shuttled back and forth between New Haven and his National Guard post in New Jersey.
Mr. Hendricks remained, throughout his career, a somewhat neglected figure. His 1970 self-portrait “Brown Sugar Vine” was included in “Contemporary Black Artists in America,” a large exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, in 1971. But it was not until 2008, when Trevor Schoonmaker organized the traveling retrospective “Barkley L. Hendricks: Birth of the Cool” at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, that he began receiving his due. The exhibition, with more than 50 paintings dating to 1964, was seen in New York at the Studio Museum in Harlem. He began showing at the Jack Shainman Gallery in Manhattan in 2009.
In the early 1980s, Mr. Hendricks began painting landscapes on annual trips to Jamaica. It was at this time that he married Susan Weig. In addition to his wife, he is survived by his mother; a sister, Arlene Hendricks; and two brothers, Andre and Methun. His younger brother Dwight was murdered in Philadelphia in 1999.
Mr. Hendricks returned to portraits in 2002 with “Fela: Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen,” a tribute to the Nigerian Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti, whom he depicted as a secular saint, resplendent in gold with a halo over his head, holding a microphone in one hand and his crotch in the other. In front of the painting, Mr. Hendricks placed 27 pairs of high-heeled shoes, a reference to the women in Fela’s life.
Some of his most striking portraits followed, notably “Photo Bloke” (2016), depicting a black man in a shocking pink suit and white tennis shoes, posing against a solid pink background; another, the timely “Roscoe” (2016), shows a young black man wearing a T-shirt that makes a profane statement against Fox News.
Mr. Hendricks’s work forms part of the exhibition “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power,” which opens at the Tate Modern in London in July. Speaking to the museum’s curators last year, he said, “I’m just trying to do the best painting of the individuals who have piqued my curiosity and made me want to paint them.”
An earlier version of this obituary misstated the given name of Mr. Hendricks’ wife. She is Susan, not Ruth. It also misstated the year the painting “Steve” was created. It was in 1976, not 1977.SOURCE
CUBA GOODING, SR., SOUL SINGER
Cuba Gooding Sr., a soul singer best known for the 1972 hit “Everybody Plays the Fool,” was found dead on Thursday in Los Angeles. He was 72.
The coroner’s office said that the cause was under investigation. Mr. Gooding’s body was found in a car parked on a busy street in the Woodland Hills section.
Mr. Gooding, the father of the Oscar-winning actor Cuba Gooding Jr., rose to fame as the lead singer of the rhythm-and-blues group the Main Ingredient. The group’s biggest hit, “Everybody Plays the Fool,” reached No. 3 on the Billboard pop singles chart and No. 2 on the R&B chart. It made enough money to enable him to move with his family from the Bronx to Southern California.
Mr. Gooding’s own father had fled Barbados for Cuba — hence his son’s name — before becoming a taxi driver in Manhattan. Mr. Gooding was born in New York City on April 27, 1944, to Dudley MacDonald Gooding and the former Addie Alston.
He joined the Main Ingredient after the group’s original lead singer, Donald McPherson, died in 1971. The group’s other hits included “Just Don’t Want to Be Lonely” and “Happiness Is Just Around the Bend,” both in 1974.
Mr. Gooding left the Main Ingredient in 1977 but returned in 1979 after releasing two albums as a solo artist for Motown. He left again in the late 1980s and released solo albums in 1993 and 2004.