Left Banke Co-Founder Michael Brown Dies at 65
Michael Brown, the keyboard player and songwriter whose brief tenure with the Left Banke produced the band's classic hits "Walk Away Renee" and "Pretty Ballerina," has passed away at the age of 65. (He is on the left in the above photo.)
The news was reported on the band's Facebook page by bassist Tom Finn, who wrote, "It's my unfortunate duty to inform you that our leader Michael Brown died this morning." Brown's cause of death has not been shared yet.
As The Oregonian's obituary for Brown notes, his time with the Left Banke was short and turbulent; although he was the primary songwriter for the group's 1967 debut album, Walk Away Renee / Pretty Ballerina, he left prior to the release of 1968's cobbled-together Left Banke Too, contributing to the quick dissolution of a once-promising band whose admittedly minor commercial success would eventually be eclipsed by the influence its baroque-pop sound has continued to exert over scores of younger acts during the ensuing decades.
Brown -- who was just 16 when he co-wrote the group's biggest hit -- continued to perform and record in the years immediately following his departure from the Left Banke, working with the band Montage and joining up with bassist and singer Ian Lloyd to form Stories, scoring a No. 1 hit with a 1974 cover of Hot Chocolate's "Brother Louie." The late '70s brought a single self-titled effort from Brown's next band, the Beckies.
The Left Banke reunited without Brown in 2011, although he resurfaced to join them on a handful of occasions. Below, you can check out fan-shot footage of one such occasion: Brown's return to the stage in 2012 for a rendition of "Pretty Ballerina" that marked his first public performance with the band since 1967.
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