Walter “Shep” Cooke, the bass participant for certainly one of Tucson’s most promising Nineteen Sixties bands and a member of Linda Ronstadt’s Stone Poneys band that launched her nationwide profession, died early Monday, Nov. 7, at his Tucson dwelling.
Cooke died from problems of throat most cancers simply weeks after he elected to cease therapies and go into dwelling hospice, mentioned his longtime good friend and roommate Stephen “Sandy” Laemmel. Cooke was 76.
“He was one in one million actually,” mentioned Laemmel, a former drummer who had identified Cooke for 50 years and had been his roommate for the final 20. “He was form of a personal man. I feel that his time within the limelight was a giant a part of his persona, but it surely wasn’t one thing he wanted.”
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Cooke is maybe finest identified for taking part in bass in The Dearly Beloved, the Nineteen Sixties Tucson band that was on the verge of a nationwide breakthrough when their lead singer was killed in a automobile accident exterior Yuma in 1967.
Cooke was born in Philadelphia and grew up in Tucson, graduating from Catalina Excessive Faculty in 1964. He studied artwork on the College of Arizona as a method to keep away from being drafted, in line with the bio he penned on his web site (shepcook.com).
He joined The Dearly Beloved in 1965, simply because the band was beginning to make a reputation for itself regionally and was on the verge of signing a nationwide recording contract.
“Shep was, for my part, simply the perfect musician within the band,” mentioned Dearly Beloved founder and guitarist Terry Lee. “I feel he was among the finest gamers in among the finest bands. … He was simply the form of torchbearer of the music of the Nineteen Sixties.”
After the death of the band’s lead singer, Larry Cox, Cooke went on to file and tour with Ronstadt, who had been making an attempt to get him to hitch her band for a few years.
“I turned in all probability the one individual ever to show down a suggestion from Linda Ronstadt TWICE and STILL get employed,” he wrote in his on-line bio.
Cooke was solely with Stone Poneys for a number of months, touring the nation and showing on a pair of nationwide TV exhibits, earlier than he left “somewhat disillusioned about ‘the massive time,’” he wrote.
He spent a lot of the Seventies and ‘80s as a session musician, bouncing between Los Angeles and Tucson, the place he lived in the identical midtown home the place he grew up. He performed in just a few Tucson bands together with with Bobby Kimmel within the short-lived however profitable trio the Floating Home Band, and had a strong solo profession that included enjoying exhibits at LA’s well-known McCabe’s Guitar Store.
Cooke’s longtime supervisor and producer Mark “Jeff” Reed digitized a collection of cassette recordings from these McCabe’s performances and launched “Stay at McCabe’s” in 2014. Two years later, Reed produced Cooke’s closing solo launch, “On a regular basis Hero.”
Cooke bought his guitars and stopped performing greater than a dozen years in the past, when his listening to began to fail him. He supplemented his retirement by working half time as a college crossing guard with Tucson Unified Faculty District, the place he labored for greater than a decade.
“He had a 1972 Toyota Corolla that he would have parked on the nook. It had flames on the entrance of it with passengers that had been dummies that may journey with him within the automobile,” Reed recalled. “He would cross out his CDs to the children and different folks he would meet on the cross stroll.”
Cooke was an solely youngster and has no survivors. Laemmel mentioned there aren’t any providers deliberate.
Contact reporter Cathalena E. Burch at email@example.com. On Twitter @Starburch