Andrew Gold: Musician and songwriter whose collaborators included Ronstadt, Garfunkel and Cher

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The Independent Online

Andrew Gold was part of the outstanding musical scene which developed in Los Angeles in the 1970s and included Linda Ronstadt, the Eagles, Bonnie Raitt and Jackson Browne. Gold, a multi-instrumentalist, played on numerous albums and also had his own hit singles with "Lonely Boy", "Never Let Her Slip Away" and "Thank You For Being A Friend". He could have had, and perhaps should have had, more solo success but his voice was probably not distinctive enough. "I know I can sing," he told me in 2000, "but I also know that I'm not Lennon or Sinatra."

Andrew Gold was born in Burbank in August 1951, the son of two highly musical parents. His father, Ernest, was a film composer who wrote the scores for On The Beach (1959) and Exodus (1960), and his mother, Marni Nixon, had a singing role in The Sound Of Music (1962) and was also Natalie Wood's singing voice in West Side Story (1961) and Audrey Hepburn's in My Fair Lady (1964).

For part of his adolescence, Gold was educated in the UK. His musical talent was soon appreciated and in the early 1970s he was playing in two Los Angeles bands, Bryndle and the Rangers, both with the guitarist Kenny Edwards. While at Oakwood School in Hollywood, he met Linda Ronstadt, then singing with the Stone Poneys.

Both Edwards and Gold were invited to join the Stone Poneys, and his burgeoning talent was soon recognised. Gold sang and played guitars and keyboards on her big-selling and highly acclaimed solo albums, Heart Like A Wheel (1974), Prisoner In Disguise (1975), Hasten Down The Wind (1976), Living In The USA (1978), Mad Love (1980) and Get Closer (1982).

In 1975 Linda Ronstadt had her only US No 1 with a revival of "You're No Good", previously a hit for Betty Everett and the Swinging Blue Jeans. The record was produced by Peter Asher but it was a tour de force for Gold, who played electric piano and drums as well as the guitar solo. Gold sang a duet with Ronstadt on a revival of the Everly Brothers' "When Will I Be Loved", while Ronstadt encouraged him to make solo records and sang backing vocals on his first hit, "Lonely Boy".

Although Gold put personal references in "Lonely Boy" (1975) including his year of birth, he told me that it was not autobiographical: "Maybe it was a mistake to do that but I simply put in those details because it was convenient. I hadn't been a lonely boy at all – I'd had a very happy childhood."

In1978, Gold had a UK Top 10 single with the ultra-catchy "Never LetHer Slip Away". "It's like McCartney meets Brian Wilson," he explained, "I can always tell when I am going into that mode. There's a very cheap synthesiser on that record, but it was right for the song." Gold promoted the single in the UK, admittedly spending much of his earnings in the gambling club, Crockfords. This led to his album track, "I'm A Gambler". He followed up with another Top 20 single, "How Can This Be Love".

Gold had a third hit in 1978 with "Thank You For Being A Friend", which had a new lease of life when it was sung by Cindy Fee as the theme for TheGolden Girls (1985-92). Gold released the albums, Andrew Gold (1975), What's Wrong With This Picture (1976), AllThis And Heaven Too (1978) and Whirlwind (1980). He did, however, refuseto sign contracts with music publishing companies, calling them "banks with real bad interest rates posing as song pluggers."

There is no doubt that Gold was regarded as a very safe pair of hands and he was invited to play on scores of albums. They included Maria Muldaur (1974), Kate And Anna McGarrigle (1975), Jennifer Warnes' Shot Through The Heart (1979) and Stephen Bishop's Careless (1976). He was strongly featured on Art Garfunkel's album, Breakaway (1975) and provided most of the accompaniment on the stunning No 1 single, "I Only Have Eyes For You". Less successful was his support for a Playboy model, Barbi Benton, who was determined to be a pop and country singer.

Among the albums he produced were Rita Coolidge's Heartbreak Radio (1981) and Nicolette Larson's All Dressed Up And No Place To Go (1982).

After Gold had done some session work for the UK group, 10cc, he was offered a place in the group, which at the time wasn't convenient. After 10cc had broken up, he formed the band Wax, with Graham Gouldman. Their most successful album was American English (1987) and they had hit singles with "Right Between Your Eyes" and "Bridge To Your Heart". The duo worked on different projects right up to Gold's death.

There was less session work in the late '80s, but Gold was on Cher's multi-million selling Heart Of Stone (1989).In 1992, the UK band, Undercover, had a Top 10 with a revival of "Never Let Her Slip Away", and he wrote a US country hit for Wynonna Judd, "I Saw The Light". A torch song, "Try Me Again", that he and Ronstadt had written for Hasten Down The Wind, was revived by Trisha Yearwood and was also a country success.

In 1995, Gold, Edwards, Wendy Waldman and Karla Bonoff reformed Bryndle for an album. Gold also made an album, Greetings From Planet Love, as the Fraternal Order of the All which was a tribute by way of original songs to his favourite 60s bands. He moved to Nashville for The Spence Manor Suite (2000) and his co-writers included Raul Malo of the Mavericks. There were some desultory performances though, notably playing Alvin of the Chipmunks on their version of Garth Brooks' "Friends In Low Places". His last solo album was Copy Cat (2008).

Possibly the strangest testimony to his success came in 1996 when his theme song for the TV series Mad About You (1992-99) was used to start Rover, a remote-controlled robot on the Mars Pathfinder space probe.

Andrew Gold, musician and songwriter: born Burbank, California 2 August 1951: married twice (three daughters); died 3 June 2011.