Songwriter P.F. Sloan Dies at 70
P.F. Sloan – a prolific songwriter who wrote hit singles for the Grass Roots, Barry McGuire, Johnny Rivers and the Turtles – has died at the age of 70. According to a press release sent out by his publicist, Sloan passed away yesterday (Nov. 15) at his home in Los Angeles after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer several weeks ago.
Sloan, who was born Philip Gary Schlein in New York City, is best known for writing McGuire's No. 1 1965 hit "Eve of Destruction." But his list of songs from the mid-'60s goes deeper than that. He also penned Herman's Hermits' "A Must to Avoid," the Turtles' "You Baby," the Grass Roots' 'Where Were You When I Needed You" and Rivers' "Secret Agent Man," which hit No. 3 in 1966.
When Sloan was 13, he signed a deal with Aladdin Records. The next year, he released his first single (under the name Flip Sloan), "All I Want Is Loving," though the label folded soon afterward. In the early '60s, he became part of the songwriting staff at the Los Angeles-based Screen Gems, where he became a guitar player on Jan & Dean's records (and allegedly that's Sloan singing the falsetto part on the group's Top 10 song "The Little Old Lady From Pasadena").
By the mid-'60s, Sloan had become an in-demand songwriter, penning cuts for Dunhill Records artists as well as producing many of their singles and albums. He also was a busy session musician, playing guitar with the famous Wrecking Crew, and was signed as a recording artist with songwriting partner Steve Barri, with whom he formed the Grass Roots. (The session group eventually turned into an actual band, with Sloan serving as its songwriter and producer.)
Since the end of the '60s, Sloan has recorded sporadically and has battled "physical and mental illnesses" (as USA Today once reported) over the years. His most recent album, My Beethoven, was released last year. He also published a memoir in 2014, What's Exactly the Matter With Me?, which chronicles the ups (he met Elvis Presley when he was 13) and downs (he pretty much disappeared from the public eye for two decades starting in the early '70s) of his long career.
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