PASSINGS: Lolly Vegas, Ron Banks

Lolly Vegas

Redbone musician

Lolly Vegas, 70, the lead singer and guitarist for Redbone, a Native American rock band that had a million-selling hit in 1974 with the bouncy “Come and Get Your Love,” died in his sleep Thursday at his home in Reseda.

He had lung cancer and had been in poor health since suffering a stroke 15 years ago, said the band's manager, Michael Stone.

Redbone rode the tight, driving style of "Come and Get Your Love" to No. 5 on Billboard's pop singles chart, but most of the band's songs had less of a dance feel and more of a swamp-rock sound. The band first gained notice with “Maggie” in 1970 and “The Witch Queen of New Orleans” in 1971.

In concert, Redbone often dressed in traditional Native American attire, and some of the group's songs, including “We Were All Wounded at Wounded Knee,” emphasized the members' Indian background.

Vegas was born Oct. 2, 1939, in Coalinga, Calif., and grew up in Fresno. He and his brother Pat, a singer and bassist, were session musicians who performed together as Pat and Lolly Vegas in the 1960s at Sunset Strip clubs and on the TV variety show "Shindig!"

The brothers were also prolific songwriters whose "Niki Hoeky" was covered by Aretha Franklin, Bobbie Gentry and P.J. Proby.

Ron Banks

Founder of R&B group Dramatics

Ron Banks, 58, whose silky falsetto helped give the Dramatics one of the most enduring careers in R&B, died Thursday at his home in Detroit after apparently suffering a heart attack, said Billy Wilson, president of the Motown Alumni Assn.

Banks was one of the founding members of the Detroit vocal group, which formed in the mid-1960s and continued to play for avid audiences around the country.

Banks' sweet voice and smooth choreography helped distinguish the Dramatics, particularly in Detroit's post-Motown scene of the 1970s, when the group enjoyed crossover pop success with songs such as “Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get” and “In the Rain.”

Born May 10, 1951, in Detroit, Banks was tall and strapping, with a vocal delivery inspired by the Temptations' Eddie Kendricks. He was among a group of teenagers who formed the Sensations in 1964 and then changed their name to the Dramatics the next year.

After signing with Stax Records in 1971, they released "Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get," which reached No. 3 on the R&B charts and No. 9 on the pop charts, and the atmospheric "In the Rain," which went to No. 1 on the R&B charts and No. 5 on the pop charts.

The band later had top-10 R&B hits with “Me and Mrs. Jones,” "Be My Girl" and "Shake It Well" on the Los Angeles-based ABC label and "Welcome Back Home" on MCA.

-- times staff and wire reports

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