Other Notable Deaths


Deaths Elsewhere

November 28, 2005

Fritz Richmond, 66, a folk musician considered one of the world's finest players of the jug and washtub bass, died of lung cancer Nov. 20 in Portland, Ore.

Born in Newton, Mass., he became a key figure in the Boston folk music scene, where he worked as the house bassist at Club 47. Drawing on his expertise as an Army helicopter mechanic, he strung the washtub bass with a steel cable, turning it into a usable instrument. To play it, he developed his own steel-and-rawhide gloves.

Mr. Richmond won national attention in 1963 with the Jim Kweskin Jug Band. He moved to Portland in 1977, but still taught recording classes and played in the Metropolitan Jug Band and Fritz Richmond's Barbecue Orchestra. He appeared on A Prairie Home Companion and toured with John Sebastian's J-Band. The Smithsonian has one of his washtub basses in its collection.

James King, 80, an American tenor whose powerful voice made him a favorite in leading roles on opera stages around the world during the 1960s and 1970s, died of a heart attack Nov. 20 in Naples, Fla.

Mr. King, who taught music and voice at Indiana University from 1984 until 2002, made his professional debut as Don Jose in Bizet's Carmen with the San Francisco Opera and rose to international prominence in 1961 singing the role of Cavaradossi in Puccini's Tosca at Florence's Teatro della Pergola.

But he won his greatest renown in the German repertory, specializing in the operas of Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss. At the Metropolitan Opera, he sang 113 performances over 30 years, beginning with his debut in 1966 as Florestan and ending with the character role of Aegisth in Strauss' Elektra.

The Rev. Albert J. Sloan, 62, the president of Miles College who brought the historically black institution back from the brink of closing, died Friday in the coronary unit of a hospital in Birmingham, Ala.

Mr. Sloan, a Methodist minister, was the 12th president in the school's 100-year history but the first to be chosen from among its ranks. He came to Miles, in Fairfield, Ala., in 1971 and earned a law degree.

He became interim president in 1989, and later president, as Miles came close that year to closing amid a financial and management crisis. Under his leadership, the college stabilized its enrollment, improved its finances and strengthened its academic programs.

Wilson "Lit" Waters Jr., 74, a member of the Grammy-winning gospel group the Fairfield Four, died Thursday at his Nashville home after a battle with cancer.

He also performed and recorded with the gospel group the Skylarks, which included future Fairfield Four members James Hill and Isaac Freeman. During Mr. Waters' time with the group, The Fairfield Four won two Grammy Awards and recorded with John Fogerty, Elvis Costello and others.

The group also contributed to the film and soundtrack of O Brother Where Art Thou, which won a Grammy in 2002. The Fairfield Four won its first Grammy in 1998 for the album I Couldn't Hear Nobody Pray.

Joseph J. Thorndike, 92, a former managing editor of Life magazine who in 1954 helped found American Heritage magazine, died of congestive heart failure and complications from Alzheimer's disease Tuesday at his home in Harwich, Mass.

Mr. Thorndike, the longtime editorial director of American Heritage, started the magazine with two Life colleagues.

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