PASSINGS: Johnny Preston, Lina Ron, Krishna Prasad Bhattarai, Jimmy Carnes

Johnny Preston

Singer had No. 1 hit with ‘Running Bear’

Johnny Preston, 71, who had a No. 1 pop single in 1960 with “Running Bear,” died Friday at a hospital in Beaumont, Texas, his son Scott told the Associated Press. The elder Preston had bypass surgery last year.

“Running Bear,” a love song about an “Indian brave” named Running Bear and his “Indian maid,” Little White Dove, reached No. 1 on Billboard magazine’s charts in 1960. The song was written by disc jockey and singer J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson, who died in the 1959 plane crash in which Ritchie Valens and Buddy Holly also were killed.


John Preston Courville was born Aug. 18, 1939, in Port Arthur, Texas. He first performed in a Lamar University group called the Shades in 1957 and was brought to the attention of Mercury Records by Richardson.

Preston also had a hit with “Cradle of Love” in 1960.

Lina Ron

Venezuelan led street groups in support of Chavez

Lina Ron, 51, who led radical street groups in support of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, died Saturday at a Caracas hospital of a heart attack, the government announced.

Ron led groups of Chavez supporters that were involved in attacks on opposition protests. She founded the small political party Venezuelan Popular Union and was a prominent voice in the radical wing of Chavez’s socialist movement.

“Chavez is loved and admired by the people. He will be defended to the death,” Ron told The Times in 2002.

Chavez, who publicly opposed some of her tactics, praised her as a “true soldier of the people.” He once said Ron was “a good woman, but she tends toward anarchy.”


In 2009, a court upheld assault charges against Ron after her group hurled tear gas canisters at the studios of television station Globovision. She also led a group that stormed and temporarily occupied the offices of the Vatican’s representative in Caracas in 2008.

In a protest that drew widespread criticism, she burned a U.S. flag shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

She was born in Anaco, Venezuela, in 1959 and worked in a department store before becoming a volunteer in the mid-1990s on Chavez’s first presidential campaign. She ran the country’s largest Bolivarian Circle, grassroots groups named after 19th century South American liberator Simon Bolivar.

Krishna Prasad Bhattarai, a former prime minister of Nepal who led a popular movement to restore multiparty democracy in 1990, died of multiple organ failure in the capital of Katmandu on Friday night. Bhattarai, who served as prime minister of the Himalayan nation twice — first in 1990 and again in 1999 — was 87.


Jimmy Carnes, U.S. Olympic track and field coach for the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow that the United States boycotted, died Saturday of cancer, said his wife, Nanette. Carnes, the longtime track and field coach at the University of Florida, was 76.

-- Los Angeles Times staff and wire reports