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Paxton, Gary S. (18th May 1939-17th July 2016)

He was a guitarist, singer-songwriter and producer born in Coffeyville, Kansas who studied at the University of Arizona.   Starting his career in the music business in 1956 he joined a country-rock band as a guitarist and within a year he formed his own group that were club performers in Arizona and New Mexico and in the duo Skip & Flip, where he was Flip,  writing and recording the million-selling song “It was I”.

Following that with another successful single, “Cherry Pie”, he moved to Hollywood where he would form the Hollywood Argyles in 1960 who saw major success with another million-seller, “Alley Oop”.  He repeated this success yet again when he produced “Honest I Do” for The Innocents.

In 1962 he produced and recorded “Monster Mash” by Bobby (Boris) Pickett where he was a member of his Cryptkickers along with Leon Russell, Ricky Page and Johnnie McRae.  Once he again he saw major chart success, three times, as it was re-released in 1967 and 1972 and it is currently the only record to sell a million records on three different occasions.

He went to Nashville to write for a while after being ill with alcohol-related liver problems in 1964 but returned to Hollywood in 1965 where he built a recording studio in his home.  Here we would produce such greats as “Along Comes Mary” by The Association and “Sweet Pea” by Tommy Roe and be nominated for two Grammy Awards for Engineering along the way.  He built a new studio and continued his affiliation with Tommy Roe and The Association and after producing “Cherish” and the accompanying album he was nominated for yet another Grammy Engineering Award.

Widening his business enterprises he opened a further two studios and a music store, ran his own house rental business and took over ownership of a mountain hotels, 26 cabins and a marina.  Sadly he lost everything in 1970 due to alcoholism and drug addiction and went to Nashville where he experienced a life-changing conversion and wrote 150 songs in his first year there.

More songs would follow that would produce the hits “Travelin’ Light”, “One Day at a Time”, two of Roy Clark’s successes, “The Great Divide” and “Honeymoon Feelin'”, and the Grammy Award nominee “Woman, Sensuous Woman”.  Gospel artists such as the Blackwoods, the Bill Gaither Trio, The Imperials and Sammy Hall would also perform many others of his works and in 1975 he signed up as a country artist where Chet Atkins would produce him.

In 1975 he opened up his own NewPax Records who would play host to artists such as Farrell and Farrell, Scott Wesley Brown and Tammy Faye Bakker, with who he was accused of having an affair.

He was gunned down in 1980 by hit-men hired to kill him by someone he was producing but he miraculously survived and later made a trip to the prison to face his failed assassins and forgive them for what they did.  In 1985 NewPax folded as a combination of some bad business deals and his drug habit.

Achieving further Grammy Award successes he was inducted into the Country Gospel Hall of Fame in 1999.  He never really stopped working and continued to write and concentrate on several projects in Branson, Missouri.

He died at home in Branson, Missouri, suffering from liver disease and complications from heart surgery.  He was 77 years old.

R.W. Blackwood Jr. recordings
Memory Go Round (Gary S. Paxton)