other notable deaths

December 21, 2007

BILL STRAUSS, 60 Capitol Steps founder

Bill Strauss, who founded the political satire group Capitol Steps, died Tuesday at his home in McLean, Va., the musical troupe announced. He had been battling pancreatic cancer since 1999.

Mr. Strauss, a Harvard-trained lawyer and Senate subcommittee staff member, got the idea of forming Capitol Steps in 1981 after hosting a party that ended with a jam session around the piano in which partygoers did parodies of Reagan-era newsmakers. Months later, the group made its debut at the office Christmas party of Mr. Strauss' employer, Sen. Charles H. Percy, an Illinois Republican.

Capitol Steps initially consisted of Senate staff members who set out to satirize the people and places that employed them. They regularly performed for free at parties and in church basements. Today, Capitol Steps is a $3 million-a-year industry with more than 40 employees who sing and satirize at venues nationwide. The group has recorded 27 albums.

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