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Keith Allison, the singer, songwriter and musician who was a member of Paul Revere & the Raiders and performed on songs recorded by Sonny & Cher, Ringo Starr, Harry Nilsson and The Monkees, has died. He was 79.
Allison died Wednesday of natural causes at his home in Sherman Oaks, a family spokesperson announced.
The Texas native also recorded and performed with the likes of Roy Orbison, The Beach Boys, The Righteous Brothers, Chuck Berry, Alice Cooper, Rick Nelson, The Crickets and Johnny Rivers.
Allison was a member of Paul Revere & the Raiders from 1968-75, singing and playing bass, guitar and organ. In 1967, he co-wrote with bandmate Mark Lindsay the bluegrass song “Freeborn Man,” recorded by him, Glen Campbell, Jerry Reed and scores of others over the years.
He contributed to albums by The Monkees, including their self-titled 1966 debut, 1967’s Headquarters and 1968 Head, and he co-wrote “Auntie’s Municipal Court” with fellow Texan Michael Nesmith for another 1968 album, The Birds, the Bees & The Monkees.
Allison played guitar and harmonica on Sonny & Cher’s mega-hit “The Beat Goes On,” recorded in 1966. A year later, Columbia Records signed him and released the album Keith Allison in Action.
In 1976, he recorded “Sail Away” with Nilsson and performed on the singer-songwriter’s albums produced by Steve Cropper. He then played guitar on Starr’s 1978 Bad Boy album and was the drummer’s musical director for his NBC special that year.
Sydney Keith Allison was born on Aug. 26, 1942, in Coleman, Texas, and raised in San Antonio. He teamed with the likes of Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, Doug Sahm and Augie Meyers, then served as the musical director and guitarist for pop singer Ray Peterson (“Tell Laura I Love Her”) from 1962-65. He and his cousin, drummer Jerry Allison, then joined The Crickets.
In Los Angeles for a taping of Dick Clark’s ABC afternoon variety show Where the Action Is, Allison was hanging out with the crew and caught on camera, and viewers mistook him for Paul McCartney. He then became a permanent Action castmember.
Allison scored the Peter Sellers film Where Does It Hurt? (1972) and wrote and sang the title song. He also wrote and recorded four tunes for Dennis Quaid’s The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia (1981).
In the ’70s, he toured with Rivers and the group headlined by Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart.
At the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa, Allison played guitar and sang with The Crickets on their final performance in 2016. He also was a permanent guest member of the Waddy Wachtel Band since 2000.
As an actor, Allison played Captain James J. White in Gods and Generals (2003) and showed up on episodes of Blossom, 7th Heaven and The Love Boat.
Survivors include his wife of 40 years, Tina Stern; children Ryeland, Allison and Brenda; sisters Cherri and Allison; grandchildren Zephyr, Skyler, Gavin, Adrian, Madeline, Isabella, Makyla and Mercedes; and six great-grandchildren.
A celebration of his life is being planned.
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