Webb Pierce, 69, a country music singer who was ranked by one poll as one of the 10 biggest stars in country music history, died Sunday of pancreatic cancer at a Nashville hospital. The Louisiana-born Pierce recorded 97 hits, mostly in the 1950s and early 1960s. His 1954 song, "Slowly," was the first country hit to feature the now standard pedal steel guitar. Among his hits were "There Stands the Glass," "Backstreet Affair," "I'll Go On Alone," "Sparkling Brown Eyes" and "That Heart Belongs to Me." Mr. Pierce co-founded Nashville's large Cedarwood music publishing company in 1953.
Slim Gaillard, 74, a jazz musician whose 60-year career went from Depression-era nightclubs to rap recordings, died of cancer Tuesday in London. The Cuban-born Mr. Gaillard performed with jazz greats, composed music and acted in Hollywood and Britain. Known for his ability to play piano with the backs of his hands, the smooth-voiced Mr. Gaillard also played guitar and acted in the films "Absolute Beginners" with David Bowie, "Roots" and "Planet of the Apes." His best-known songs included "Flat Foot Floogie," "Tutti Frutti" and "Cement Mixer." As the duo Slim and Slam, Mr. Gaillard and bassist Slam Stewart wrote and recorded a series of hit songs in the 1930s in an eccentric "jive talk"slang they dubbed "Vout-Orooni."
Thomas F. Carter, 67, an entrepreneur who won a landmark legal challenge against American Telephone & Telegraph Co., died Saturday of lung disease at a Dallas hospital. In 1959, Mr. Carter patented the CarterFone, a device that connects telephones with private two-way radio systems. The CarterFone can be used to talk over any telephone with radio-dispatched cars and trucks. Soon after his invention, AT&T; threatened to discontinue service to customers who used CarterFone, prompting Mr. Carter's lawsuit. In 1968, the Federal Communications Commission ruled in Mr. Carter's favor, and the next year MCI became the first private company to hook its long-distance network into local phone service.