PASSINGS: Johnny Maestro, Cliff Livingston
Johnny Maestro, who sang the 1958 doo-wop hit '16 Candles' with the Crests, dies at 70; Cliff Livingston, an NFL linebacker who played with the Giants and Rams, dies at 79
Cliff Livingston, seen in 1963 when he played with the L.A. Rams, became an actor after he retired from football. (Vic Stein)
'16 Candles' singer with the Crests
Johnny Maestro, 70, a singer who performed the 1958 doo-wop hit “16 Candles” with the Crests and enjoyed a decades-long career with the Brooklyn Bridge, died of cancer Wednesday in Florida, according to Les Cauchi, a friend and original Brooklyn Bridge member.
Maestro was born John Mastrangelo on May 7, 1939, in New York City and grew up on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. He began his career in 1956 as lead singer of the Crests, an integrated doo-wop group that had a No. 2 single with "16 Candles." The group also had success with "Six Nights a Week," "The Angels Listened In," "Step by Step" and "Trouble in Paradise."
In 1960, the band's label, Coed, decided that Johnny Maestro should go solo, although the Crests still backed him. Under that designation they had hits with "Model Girl" and "What a Surprise" before Maestro left the group.
He later joined the Del-Satins, who had backed up Dion, with the Rhythm Method to form the Brooklyn Bridge in 1968. The new 11-member ensemble had a No. 3 single with “The Worst That Could Happen,” a Jimmy Webb song.
Maestro performed at arenas, amphitheaters and casinos throughout the United States and Europe until earlier this year.
NFL linebacker in N.Y. and L.A.
Cliff Livingston, 79, an NFL linebacker who played the first eight seasons of his 12-year pro football career for the New York Giants before ending it with the Los Angeles Rams, died March 13 at his home in Las Vegas from complications of Lewy body dementia, Parkinson's disease and congestive heart failure, said his wife, Linda.
Livingston, who played defensive end at UCLA under Coach Red Sanders in 1950 and '51, became a linebacker and special teams player in New York from 1954 through the 1961 season.
During his time with the Giants, the team won the NFL championship game in 1956 over the Chicago Bears and appeared in three more title games, losing to the Baltimore Colts in 1958 (often called "the greatest game ever played") and 1959 and to the Green Bay Packers in 1961.
The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Livingston was traded to the Minnesota Vikings in 1962 and he retired after one year there. He came back to play for the Rams the next season, when his former Giants teammate Harlan Svare became the Rams' coach. After three seasons, Livingston retired for good.
Born July 2, 1930, in Compton, Livingston served in the Army between his time at UCLA and with the Giants. His older brother Howie also played in the NFL.
When Livingston's football career ended, he capitalized on his rugged good looks by landing minor acting roles in TV shows and commercials.
He married his wife, Linda, a former Playboy bunny, in 1967. They had a daughter, Paige.
-- times staff and wire reports