‘A friend to all’: Guitarist Keith Allison dead at age 79

The music world was rocked this week with the news that legendary guitarist Keith Allison was dead.

According to a statement from his former band Paul Revere and the Raiders, the 79-year-old musician died on Wednesday of unspecified natural causes.

“Keith will always be a Raider”

Spokesperson Alex Hart explained that Allison died at his home in Sherman Oaks, California.

“We all here in the Raider family are terribly heartbroken,” he said, according to Billboard. “Keith will always be a Raider. Our love goes out to Keith’s wife Tina, son Ryeland, daughters Alison and Brenda, and all the grandchildren.”

Expressing the “deep sadness” of those who knew the guitarist, Hart described Allison as “a friend to all” whose “presence will be strongly missed.”

As the New York Post reported, Allison was reluctant to join the band in the late 1960s after he had already been in a number of other musical acts.

His presence in the group, however, helped drive Paul Revere and the Raiders into stardom with hits like Let MeArizonaKicks, and Hungry.

“It’s like a roller coaster”

In addition to his sheer talent, some say his physical resemblance to Paul McCartney added to his charm — especially at the height of Beatlemania.

Allison, who had also been a recurring presence on Dick Clark’s TV show Where the Action Is, remained with the band until 1975. After he left, he released a few solo projects and transitioned into an acting career.

His acting credits included television roles in shows such as Blossom, 7th Heaven, and The Love Boat, as well as a performance as Captain James J. White in the 2003 film Gods and Generals. In his later year, he returned to his musical roots with the Waddy Watchel Band as well as his work on a 2007 Jerry Lewis album.

During an interview after his retirement, Allison took stock of a legendary career that included performances with many of the biggest musical acts of all time, including Roy Orbison, Ringo Starr, Sonny Bono and Cher, The Beach Boys, and many more.

“I’ve had a great time,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed the highs and lows. It’s like a roller coaster. But it’s always been that way, up and down and up and down and up and down.”

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