Multi-Talented Gary Paxton Also Produced Monster Mash
Despite a largely troubled life, Gary Paxton accomplished much during his 77 years. Paxton passed July 17 in Branson, Mo where he was still writing and performing , now as a Christian artist known as Grandpa Rock. But it was his unexpected hits of ‘It Was I’ (Skip and Flip) and ‘Alley Oop’ (Hollywood Argyles) that topped the list of of many accomplishments – including surviving to 77 amidst a plethora of medical and other issues. He also was involved in the production of ‘Monster Mash’in 1962, performed by Bobby (Boris) Picket, who also passed not long ago.
The New York Times News Service
Published Thursday, Aug. 04, 2016 6:50PM EDT
Last updated Thursday, Aug. 04, 2016 6:50PM EDT
Gary Paxton, who began his career as a teenager in the singing duo Skip & Flip, produced the hit pop singles Alley-Oop and Monster Mash, composed hundreds of songs and ended his career as a Grammy-winning gospel musician who also performed as the masked Grandpa Rock, died July 16 in Branson, Mo. He was 77.
The cause was complications of heart surgery and liver disease, his wife, Vicki Sue Paxton, said.
Mr. Paxton’s professional trajectory as a songwriter, record producer and sometime performer coursed from rock ‘n’ roll to contemporary Christian music. His personal life resembled a gangsta rap video that mixed violent, comic and counter-cultural overtones and ended with an inspirational beat.
“I was molested when I was 7,” he wrote in the testimony section of his ministry’s website. “I started writing songs when I was 10. I had spinal meningitis at 11. We moved to Arizona when I was 12 years of age. I had my own rock ‘n’ roll band by the time I was 14. When I was 16 years old, I wrote my first million-seller, recording it at age 17.”
After surviving adolescence, Mr. Paxton was buffeted between sudden stardom and abject poverty. Twice, he was delivered to mental institutions because of drug and alcohol abuse. He was accused of driving a wedge between television evangelist Jim Bakker and his wife, Tammy Faye Bakker, as scandal broke over reports of extramarital affairs. He was shot three times by hit men said to have been hired by a disgruntled singer. And after his business partner died, he wandered into a church and was baptized, turned to gospel music and went on to win a Grammy Award for best inspirational performance.