Gold died Friday in his sleep at his home in Los Angeles, said his sister, Melani Gold Friedman. He had cancer but had been responding well to treatment, she said.
He played several instruments, did arrangements and sang on such Ronstadt albums as "Heart Like a Wheel" in 1974, "Prisoner in Disguise" in 1975 and "Hasten Down the Wind" in 1976.
His versatility also made him a highly regarded session player for such folk-rock musicians as James Taylor, Carly Simon, Loudon Wainwright III and J.D. Souther as well as the producer of recordings by Stephen Bishop, Nicolette Larson and others.
Singer-songwriter famed for the 1970s chart hit Lonely Boy
Monday 6 June 2011
Best known for his 1970s solo hits Never Let Her Slip Away and Lonely Boy, Andrew Gold, who has died of a heart attack aged 59, was an accomplished all-round musician, composer and arranger. His skills in the recording studio helped to propel Linda Ronstadt to stardom, and he worked with a long list of top-flight artists from the Eagles and Jackson Browne to John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Cher and Celine Dion.
A musical career seemed almost inevitable from the moment he was born, in Burbank, California. His parents were Marni Nixon, the singer who dubbed the musical performances of Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady, Deborah Kerr in The King And I and Natalie Wood in West Side Story, and the composer Ernest Gold, who scored the movie Exodus. Andrew recalled living in Laurel Canyon as a teenager: "My father had this little studio with a piano and all his awards. When he was working on a movie he'd go up there and compose. I'd wake up to this piano music over and over. I was always going to be a musician, and my parents encouraged me."
He first met Ronstadt as a high school student in the 1960s, when he saw her perform with her band the Stone Poneys ("My girlfriend was pissed off at me cos I kept checking out Linda's legs," he confessed.) When the group split up in 1967, Gold teamed up with their guitarist Kenny Edwards and singer-songwriters Wendy Waldman and Karla Bonoff to form Bryndle (the "y" in the name was in homage to The Byrds). The group secured a recording deal and made an album, though it was not released.
Bryndle split up, and Edwards and Gold joined Ronstadt's new band. Gold was a crucial contributor to her 1974 breakthrough album, Heart Like a Wheel, adding the celebrated guitar solo to the Billboard chart-topper You're No Good. He stayed with Ronstadt until 1977, playing on her next four albums.
Even before leaving the Ronstadt fold, he had branched out into a solo career, releasing his first album, Andrew Gold, in 1975, and following it up with What's Wrong With This Picture? (1976). Lonely Boy gave him his first big hit, in 1977, cracking the US top 10 and reaching No 11 in Britain. Gold revealed that the song was partly inspired by Ry Cooder's version of How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live, adding that "I thought it should be an eight-minute opus, but I got bored after three and a half." The following year brought a streak of further hits with How Can This Be Love, Thank You for Being a Friend and Never Let Her Slip Away, the last of these gaining far more recognition in the UK than in the US (it also featured Freddie Mercury on backing vocals).
Gold now began to exhibit his skills across a broader canvas. He played all the instruments on Art Garfunkel's I Only Have Eyes for You and made numerous instrumental contributions to Garfunkel's 1975 album Breakaway. He played the drums and guitar on Eric Carmen's album Boats Against the Current (1977), which included the hit She Did It. He co-wrote the chart-topping single I Saw the Light (1992) for Wynonna Judd, and produced the top 20 hit Personally for Bonoff. He worked with all the ex-Beatles except George Harrison, and with Don Henley, Brian Wilson, James Taylor and many more.
Having collaborated on three songs with 10cc, Gold was invited to join the group, but was prevented from doing so by other commitments. However, when 10cc split in 1983, Gold teamed up with Graham Gouldman in Wax, which scored several big hits including Right Between the Eyes and Bridge to Your Heart, before splitting up in 1989. In the 90s, he reassembled Bryndle with its original members, and the group finally managed to release its debut album.
The mid-90s found Gold essaying several whimsical solo projects, such as the Halloween album Halloween Howls (1996) and a set of 60s pastiche tracks called Greetings from Planet Love, released under the pseudonym of the Fraternal Order of the All (1997). He also pursued a fruitful sideline in music for commercials and movie and TV soundtracks. His song Thank You for Being a Friend was used as the theme for the television series The Golden Girls, in a version by Cynthia Fee; and also cropped up in episodes of The Simpsons and Saturday Night Live.
"I think the 60s and 70s were the peak period for the singer-songwriter, for sure," Gold commented in 2000. "Nowadays it's a slightly different thing, with the recording and arrangement more important than the song. But I'm not bothered by it. It's a phase and it's new. I don't want to be like my grandparents, saying 'This isn't good like in our day!'"
Gold is survived by his wife, Leslie; his daughters, Emily, Victoria and Olivia; his mother; and two sisters.
• Andrew Maurice Gold, singer, composer and arranger, born 2 August 1951; died 3 June 2011