PASSINGS: Manuel Galban, George Kimball, Josef Suk

Manuel Galban

Award-winning Cuban guitarist


Manuel Galban, 80, a Grammy-winning Cuban guitarist who rose to international fame as a member of the Buena Vista Social Club, died Thursday of a

heart attack

in Havana.

Born in 1931 in Gibara, in the eastern province of Holguin, Galban made his professional debut in 1944, according to his publicist. In 1963 he joined Los Zafiros, Spanish for "The Sapphires," which fused styles as varied as bolero, calypso and rock with Cuban


music, which comes from the word "feeling."

The group became one of the island's most popular until it disbanded in 1972.

Galban spent the next three years as head of


national music ensemble, then formed a group known as Batey.

In the 1990s he became part of the

which involved a group of elderly, sometimes retired, musicians who were living quietly in Cuba before

brought them together.

Their album was an international smash hit and later the subject of a


In 2003 Galban teamed up with Cooder to record

It won a Grammy the following year for best pop instrumental album.

Galban follows others from the Buena Vista Social Club who have already died, including Compay Segundo,

and vocalist Pio Leyva.

George Kimball

Boston sports columnist, raconteur

67, a longtime Boston Herald sports columnist, boxing writer and raconteur, died of esophageal cancer Wednesday at his home in

New York City

, said his wife, Marge Marash.

He worked for the newspaper from 1980 to 2005, and wrote and edited several books on boxing, including 2008's well-regarded "Four Kings," about the great fighters Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler,

Thomas Hearns

and Roberto Duran. He also edited with John Schulian "At the Fights: American Writers on Boxing," a 2011 anthology that

called "lovingly rendered" and "a treasure chest."

Kimball was born Dec. 20, 1943, in Grass Valley, Calif., and his family moved frequently following the postings of his Army officer father. He attended a series of colleges, went to jail for protesting the

Vietnam War

and other minor offenses, took jobs and lost them. He ran for sheriff of Douglas County, Kan., then wrote about his unsuccessful campaign for the countercultural journal the Realist.

After moving to

New York

in the 1960s he worked for a literary agency and wrote poetry and pornographic fiction while also filing nonfiction assignments for the Village Voice, Rolling Stone, Playboy and other publications.

He also began writing a sports column for the Boston


alternative weekly before joining the Boston Herald, where he wrote a general sports column in addition to covering boxing.

Kimball was married four times, with the last ceremony conducted by former heavyweight champion

George Foreman


Josef Suk

Czech violinist founded Suk Trio

Josef Suk, 81, a Czech violinist who was the great-grandson of composer Antonin Dvorak, died Wednesday in


after a lengthy illness, a spokesman for the Prague Spring festival said.

Suk was popular in the United States and in Canada as well as Japan and Europe, and worked with a number of major orchestras around the globe.

The award-winning concert violinist, born in Prague in 1929, specialized in chamber music and founded the Suk Trio, named after his grandfather, in 1951 and the Suk Chamber Orchestra in 1974.

-- Los Angeles Times staff and wire reports