lost one of its great independent operators a couple of days ago. Bob Keane
died of renal failure at the age of 87. Previously he had conquered lymphoma (at age 80) and survived decades of ups and downs, including battles with drugs, alcohol, the record industry & himself.
His early years were spent as a successful clarinetist and big band leader, at one point taking over Artie Shaw
's band -- he even took a crack at acting. In the early 50's, after a stint in WWII
, he hosted a local variety show on channel 2, but looming in the near future was his true calling.
was started by Keane and John Siamas
& their first hit was a doozy. "You Send Me" by Sam Cooke
made over a million dollars and made an international star out of Cooke. Unfortunately, Keane hadn't any contracts with Siamas and soon Siamas gave him the business and Bob was left to his own devices. Never one to remain passive, Keane turned around and formed Del-Fi Records
, releasing records from Frank Zappa
, Little Caesar and the Romans
, The Lively Ones
, Johnny Crawford
fame), and Brenda Holloway,
as well as an endless list of one off singles. Of course, the biggest Del-Fi sensation was Ritchie Vallens
, but my favorite is the Eden Ahbez
LP. Keane went on to more success and troubles with Bobby Fuller
and eventually helped to kick start Barry White
's career on the Mustang
label. According to Keane, a bullwhip was Mr. White's weapon of choice back in his 50's street gang days.