The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Writing hit songs risky business


I've always dreamed about penning a Top 40 hit, although reaching the charts has been a curse for many younger than me.

Greg Arama, bassist for The Amboy Dukes ("Journey to the Center of the Mind"), was killed in a 1979 motorcycle accident at 29.

Lefty Baker, guitarist for Spanky and our Gang ("Like to Get to Know You"), died of cirrhosis of the liver at 29 in 1971.

Charles Fizer of The Olympics ("Western Movies") was killed at 25 in a 1965 race riot.

Bobby Bloom ("Montego Bay") died from an accidental gunshot in 1974 at 28.

Marc Bolan of T-Rex ("Bang A Gong") died at 29 in 1977 when the car he was riding in hit a tree.

Eddie Cochran ("Summertime Blues") was killed in a car wreck in 1960 at 21.

Manuel Fernandez, organist for Los Bravo ("Black is Black") committed suicide at 23 in 1967.

Jesse Belvin ("Goodnight, My Love") died in a 1960 car accident at 27 while making a quick getaway from the first-ever integrated-audience concert in Little Rock, Ark.

The concert had been stopped twice because of whites shouting racial epithets. Belvin had received several death threats before the concert, and there was speculation that his car had been tampered with.

His wife and the driver were also killed.

My cousin, Dennis Vaughn Sloan of Dallas, is currently recording a song that I wrote. Cuz — Please do not make it too catchy.

Contact Wendel Sloan at


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