Andrew Gold, 59, one of the founders and shapers of the Southern California pop/rock sound which dominated pop music in the 1970's, died on Friday at his home in Encino, California of cancer and/or a heart attack.
Guitarist and pianist Andrew Gold was barely out of high school when he joined Linda Ronstadt's band, The Stone Poneys, later playing on and arranging many of her albums, including her breakout 1974 album, "Heart Like a Wheel". Gold became a much-sought after musician who worked with singers such as James Taylor, Carly Simon, Maria Muldaur, Art Garfunkel, Paul McCartney, Cher and Jackson Browne. Along with Waddy Wachtel and Kenny Edwards, Gold helped to define the Southern California sound made popular by Ronstadt, The Eagles, J.D. Souther, Karla Bonoff, The Doobie Brothers and Boz Scaggs, among many others. Gold is typical of the type of musician who never became a household name, yet within the music industry was a certifiable superstar. For a great example of Gold's "anonymous" work, listen to Linda Ronstadt's first #1 hit, "You're No Good", on which Gold is doing all the guitar work.
In addition to his instrumental, arranging and back-up vocal work for other artists, Gold also had hits of his own. In 1977, he scored a #7 hit with "Lonely Boy", and the following year made it to #25 with "Thank You For Being a Friend", which later became the theme song for the t.v. show, "The Golden Girls".
It was probably inevitable that Gold would find a career in music. His father was Ernest Gold, who wrote the Oscar-winning score for the movie "Exodus", as well as scores for "Judgment at Nuremberg" and "Ship of Fools". Gold's mother is Marni Nixon, a classically trained soprano who performed on Broadway and with the New York Philharmonic, but is best known for dubbing the movie singing voices of Natalie Wood in “West Side Story” and Audrey Hepburn in “My Fair Lady.” Oddly enough, Andrew Gold never learned to formally read music; Gold's mother, Ms. Nixon, said that Andrew played music "by ear".