Good friends like Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard got more credit for their contrary ways and trend-setting ideas, but it was Ray Price who set the precedent for change in country music more than a decade earlier.
Price passed away at his Texas home, having long outlasted most of his country music contemporaries and the prognosis doctors gave him when they discovered his pancreatic cancer in 2011. He was 87.
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"Ray Price was a giant in Texas and country western music. Besides one of the greatest voices that ever sang a note, Ray's career spanned over 65 years in a business where 25 years would be amazing," said Ray Benson of the country music group Asleep at the Wheel.
Price, one of country music's most popular and influential singers and bandleaders, had more than 100 hits and was one of the last living connections to Hank Williams.
Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum historian Michael McCall said Price "was one of his generation's most important musical innovators," popularizing the bedrock 4/4 shuffle beat that can still be heard on every honky-tonk jukebox and most country radio stations in the world.
He reached the Billboard Hot 100 eight times from 1958-73 and had seven No. 1 hits and more than 100 titles on the Billboard country chart from 1952 to 1989. "For the Good Times" was his biggest crossover hit, reaching No. 11 on the Billboard pop music singles chart. His other country hits included "Crazy Arms," "Release Me," "The Same Old Me," "Heartaches by the Number," "City Lights" and "Too Young to Die."
Price was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1996, long after he had become dissatisfied with Nashville and returned to his home state of Texas.
Peter O'Toole, the charismatic actor who achieved instant stardom as Lawrence of Arabia and was nominated eight times for an Academy Award, has died. He was 81.
O'Toole began his acting career as one of the most exciting young talents on the British stage. His 1955 "Hamlet," at the Bristol Old Vic, was critically acclaimed.
He got his first Oscar nomination for 1962's "Lawrence of Arabia," his last for "Venus" in 2006. With that he set the record for most nominations without ever winning, though he had accepted an honorary Oscar in 2003.
A reformed -- but unrepentant -- hell-raiser, O'Toole long suffered from ill health.
Larry Lujack, an immensely popular Chicago radio personality whose sarcasm, grumpiness and sense of humor was unlike anything listeners had heard and who influenced some of today's best-known broadcasters, has died. He was 73.
Lujack's wife, Judith Lujack, said Thursday that he died of esophageal cancer at their Santa Fe, N.M., home Wednesday evening.
Though Lujack's name may not be familiar today, a quarter-century after his 20-year run at WLS-AM and the former WCFL-AM, it would be tough to understate just how big he once was -- the star of a massive radio station with listeners all over the state and beyond. Lujack joked, bellyached and criticized his way through shows in a manner that has become ubiquitous among today's radio personalities.
"The point is that with all the top-40 disk jockeys, these high-energy guys with their fake effervescence, cheerfulness, he was the first one to be real," said Robert Feder, a longtime Chicago media writer who now has a blog. "He paved the way for new style of radio that followed and everyone who became a real personality owes it in some way to Larry Lujack."
Kenneth Schechter, a Korean War pilot who landed his plane on a remote runway while blinded from a wound, has died. He was 83.
The landing was retold in the 1954 movie, "Men of the Fighting Lady" with Dewey Martin as Schechter and Van Johnson as Thayer. In the Hollywood version, though, the pilots flew jets and the landing was on an aircraft carrier.
David Coleman, a British sports broadcaster who covered 11 Summer Olympics for the BBC and six World Cups, has died. He was 87.
Coleman was awarded the Order of the British Empire for services to broadcasting in 1992.
Ned Vizzini, a popular young adult author and television writer who wrote candidly and humorously about his struggles with depression, has committed suicide. He was 32.
Vizzini jumped off the roof of his parents' home in Brooklyn on Thursday, said his brother, Daniel Vizzini.
Ned Vizzini's autobiographical novel "It's Kind of a Funny Story" was adapted into a feature film of the same name.
Vizzini's other books include "Be More Chill" and "The Other Normals," both of which told of young people who feel like outsiders. This year, he and filmmaker Chris Columbus debuted a trilogy of young adult fantasy books, "House of Secrets." The second installment had been completed and is scheduled for March. No decisions have been made about the third book, according to his publisher.
Vizzini also was working on the NBC series "Believe," a project co-created by J.J. Abrams and Alfonso Cuaron. His other TV writing credits include "Teen Wolf" and "Last Resort." A musical adaptation of "Be More Chill" has been in the works.
Sergio Loro Piana, who helped build a six-generation, family-run textile firm into the eponymous luxury brand recently bought by French conglomerate LVMH, has died at age 65.
Yuri Dubinin, the Soviet Union's ambassador to the United States during much of the turbulent 1980s' perestroika period, has died at age 83.
Gen. Jesus Gutierrez Rebollo, a Mexican drug czar disgraced by his arrest and conviction for aiding a powerful drug cartel, died Thursday after a long bout of prostate cancer, his lawyer said. He was 79.
British novelist Paul Torday, who had a surprise best-seller with his debut novel "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen," has died at age 67, his publisher said Thursday.
Torday launched his writing career in his late fifties, publishing "Salmon Fishing on the Yemen" in 2007 -- the story of a rich sheik who dreams of bringing the sport of fly-fishing to his desert country.
The novel was adapted into a 2011 film starring Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt, with Blunt as the sheik's representative and McGregor as a cynical fisheries expert who begrudgingly accepts the challenge.
Bernard L. Shaw, a San Francisco police officer who served as Patty Hearst's body guard and later married her, has died at the age of 68.
Shaw was best known for his relationship with William Randolph Hearst's granddaughter. She made headlines in the 1970s for her kidnapping by a left-wing group and her later imprisonment for bank robbery.
Al Goldstein, the bearded, bird-flipping publisher of Screw magazine who smashed down legal barriers against pornography and raged against politicians, organized religion and anything that even suggested good taste, died Thursday, according to a friend. He was 77.
Of all the would-be successors to Hugh Hefner's sexual throne, no one was as out there as Goldstein. Whether publishing nude photographs of Jacqueline Kennedy, or placing an 11-foot-tall sculpture of an extended middle finger outside his Florida home, Goldstein was a one-man, uncensored army of boiling humor, manic attire, numerous divorces and X-rated visions of peace and love.
"To be angry is to be alive. I'm an angry Jew. I love it. Anger is better than love. I think it is more pure," he said in an interview in 2001. "There's so much to be angry about, because people are ripped off, the election went to the wrong person, the good guys usually lose and society sucks."
In late 2003, the magazine folded and Goldstein filed for bankruptcy protection. On the upside, he lost 150 pounds following stomach stapling surgery the same year and married his fifth wife, a woman 40 years his junior. Things fell so far, though, that he was forced, at times, to sleep in a car and live in a Florida homeless shelter.
Ronnie Biggs, a British thief with a roguish streak who had a minor role in the 1963 Great Train Robbery, one of the more flamboyant crimes in modern history, and who became one of the world's most wanted and unrepentant fugitives, died Wednesday in London. He was 84.
On the night of the robbery, Aug. 8, 1963, the gang altered the railroad signals and climbed aboard the stopped train in rural Buckinghamshire. It turned out Peter was unable to figure out the complex control panel and could not take the train to a less-visible location. The criminals quickly divvied up their spoils -- Biggs' cut was reportedly $350,000 -- and scattered.
Harold Varner, an architect on the design team for Detroit's Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, has died at age 78.
Dr. Janet Rowley, a pioneer in cancer genetics research, has died at age 88.
Rowley spent most of her career at the University of Chicago, where she also obtained her medical degree.
Rowley conducted landmark research with leukemia in the 1970s, linking cancer with genetic abnormalities -- work that led to targeted drug treatment for leukemia.
Graham Mackay, the SABMiller PLC chairman who helped guide the company from a South African industrial conglomerate into one of the world's biggest brewers, has died after suffering from a brain tumor. He was 64.
Mackay helped lead the company, originally South African Breweries, through some of its most dramatic recent moments, beginning in the early 1990s when the late Nelson Mandela's release from prison led to a lifting of sanctions on South Africa and offered the potential for the company to expand internationally. It has grown to own such iconic brands as Miller and Foster's.
A Portland attorney who won a nearly $20 million judgment for a sex abuse victim against the Boy Scouts of America and forced the organization to release secrets on pedophiles contained in its so-called "perversion files" has died. Kelly Clark was 56.
Clark was one of the most prominent American attorneys who fought for childhood victims of sexual abuse -- bringing and winning cases against the Roman Catholic Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Boy Scouts of America.
Harold Camping, the California preacher who used his evangelical radio ministry and thousands of billboards to broadcast the end of the world and then gave up public prophecy when his date-specific doomsdays did not come to pass, has died at age 92.
Romance writer Janet Dailey, whose books have sold more than 325 million copies worldwide, has died at her southwest Missouri home. She was 69.
Born and raised in Iowa, Dailey moved to Branson in 1978 with her husband, Bill Dailey, who was credited with helping build the town into an entertainment mecca.
Dailey's novels included the popular "Calder" series and her Americana series -- 50 books, one set in each state. Her website lists 155 works, including single novels and short story collections as well as the two series.
Audrey Totter, the radio actress who became a silver screen star by playing femme fatales in 1940s film noir including "Lady in the Lake," has died at 95.
Joan Fontaine, who won an Academy Award for best actress in director Alfred Hitchcock's 1941 movie "Suspicion," fanning a lifelong feud by beating her sister, Olivia de Havilland, for the honor, has died. She was 96.
Her Oscar was the only one claimed by an actor in any Hitchcock film. Hitchcock himself didn't win an Academy Award until 1979, when he was cited for lifetime achievement. Fontaine also got Oscar nominations for performances in Hitchcock's "Rebecca" (1940) and in "The Constant Nymph" (1943).
She was the younger sister, by almost 16 months, of De Havilland, who could lay claim to more fame and an overall greater film career.
Actor-writer-director Tom Laughlin, whose production and marketing of "Billy Jack" set a standard for breaking the rules on and off screen, has died at 82.
Audrey Totter, an actress who specialized in playing temptresses, dangerous dames and women harboring dark schemes in a series of movies from Hollywood's film noir period of the 1940s and '50s, has died at age 95.
Totter first set the screen afire with a small but sizzling part in the 1946 noir classic "The Postman Always Rings Twice."
Totter starred in "Lady in the Lake" (1947), directed by and starring Robert Montgomery as Raymond Chandler's jaded private eye Philip Marlowe. In "High Wall" (1947), she was a psychiatrist trying to uncover the secrets of a brain-injured war veteran who falsely confessed to having strangled his wife.
She played the long-suffering wife of Robert Ryan, an aging boxer in "The Set-Up" (1949). In "The Unsuspected" (1947), with Claude Rains, she played a scheming wife in a complicated tale of murder.
Audrey Mary Totter was born Dec. 20, 1917, in Joliet, Ill. Her Austrian-born father was a streetcar driver.