PASSINGS: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Bob Boozer, Jim Abdnor, Chuck Brown, Herbert Breslin

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau

Renowned baritone championed German lieder

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, 86, a renowned baritone who led a worldwide revival in popularity for German lieder, died in his sleep Friday at his home in the southern German city of Starnberg, his family said.

The respected interpreter of classical art songs and opera performed for more than five decades primarily on European stages while also touring worldwide and recording extensively. He became best known for his renditions of songs by Franz Schubert and Gustav Mahler.


“He has deeply moved countless people around the world for more than half a century through hundreds of concerts and recordings,” German Culture Minister Bernd Neumann said.

Neumann said Fischer-Dieskau’s recordings of works by composers such as Mozart, Richard Strauss and Schubert set benchmarks for generations of singers to come, adding that his famous representation of Schubert’s “Die Winterreise” (The Winter Journey) remains unforgettable.

Born May 28, 1925, in Berlin, Fischer-Dieskau studied music until he was drafted into the German army in 1943. After he became an American prisoner of war in Italy in 1945, he gave recitals at military camps.

He quickly rose to prominence after World War II, beginning in 1947 with a concert of lieder, or art songs, and at the Berlin opera. He soon became a fixture at European opera houses.

He also performed at Germany’s annual Wagner opera festival in Bayreuth, and had appeared 123 times since 1951 at Austria’s Salzburg Festival. Fischer-Dieskau ended his long career, during which he also worked as conductor and writer, with a farewell concert in Munich in 1992.

Bob Boozer

Olympic and NBA great

Bob Boozer, 75, a member of the dominating 1960 Olympic basketball team who went on to star in the NBA, died Saturday at an Omaha hospital of a brain aneurysm, said his wife, Ella.

Boozer was a two-time All-American at Kansas State University in the 1958-59 season and played 11 years in the NBA after the Cincinnati Royals drafted him No. 1 overall. The 6-foot-8 forward retired after winning the 1971 NBA championship with the Milwaukee Bucks.

He played with Jerry West, Oscar Robertson and Jerry Lucas on the gold-medal-winning 1960 Olympic team and went on to average 14.8 points and 8.1 rebounds for six professional teams.

Born and raised in Omaha, Boozer returned to Nebraska after his playing days and worked as an executive for the telephone company. He was appointed to the Nebraska Parole Board in the 1990s and volunteered at Boys Town, the home for troubled youths.

Jim Abdnor

South Dakotan defeated McGovern to win a Senate seat

Former U.S. Sen. Jim Abdnor, 89, the South Dakota Republican who ousted prominent Democrat George McGovern from the Senate in 1980 only to lose his seat after one term, died Wednesday, his family said in a statement. Vance Goldammer, Abdnor’s attorney and longtime friend, said Abdnor died of natural causes. He had been in hospice care in Sioux Falls, S.D., since May 6.

Abdnor, the son of Lebanese immigrants, was a four-term congressman when he defeated the 1972 Democratic presidential nominee as McGovern tried to win his fourth Senate term. Abdnor received nearly 60% of the vote, part of the Republican wave that swept Ronald Reagan into the White House.

Abdnor was a farmer, teacher and World War II veteran before jumping into politics. He served on the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee and earned a reputation for working hard to help farmers and win water projects for South Dakota.

When Abdnor lost his Senate seat in 1986 to then-U.S. Rep. Tom Daschle, Reagan appointed him head of the U.S. Small Business Administration and he held the post for two years.

Abdnor was born Feb. 13, 1923, and grew up in the South Dakota ranching town of Kennebec. He received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Nebraska in 1945.

Chuck Brown

Funk band leader known as godfather of go-go music

Chuck Brown, 75, a funk band leader and composer who was regarded as the godfather of the East Coast subgenre known as go-go music, died Wednesday at Johns Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore. The cause was complications from pneumonia, his family said.

Go-go music rose alongside New York funk and hip-hop in the 1970s and ‘80s, and “Bustin’ Loose,” the hit Brown had with his group the Soul Searchers, helped define its sound. The song spent several weeks atop the R&B chart in 1979, and rapper Nelly later sampled Brown’s hit in 2002 for the Grammy-winning “Hot in Herre.”

Brown’s music spawned an underground subculture with distinctive dance steps, and its heavily percussive hard-funk sound became uniquely identified with Washington, D.C. The rhythms he created also became some of the earliest tracks sampled by electronic dance music producers.

With his deep, gravelly voice Brown often led extended call-and-response chants. He once said the music got its name because it “just goes and goes.”

Charles Louis Brown was born in 1936 in Gaston, N.C., and grew up poor. His mother was a housekeeper, and he never knew his father.

In the mid-1950s, he was sent to prison for eight years for shooting a man, an act Brown maintained was committed in self-defense. Behind bars, he traded another inmate five packs of cigarettes for a guitar and learned to play it. After his release, Brown played with other bands and formed the Soul Searchers in 1966.

More recently, Brown performed with his daughter, a rapper known as K.K. Donelson.


Herbert Breslin, the hard-driving publicist and manager who helped propel Luciano Pavarotti to international fame during the 36 years they worked together, died Wednesday of an apparent heart attack in Nice, France, his family said. Breslin, 87, was the co-author of the 2004 book “The King and I,” which detailed his work with the acclaimed tenor.

—Times staff and wire reports