Steve Martin Caro, the co-founder and original singer of the 60s baroque-pop band the Left Banke, has died at the age of 71 from heart disease.
Caro’s passing was first reported on a fan page run by the band’s original bassist Tim Finn, and was later confirmed by the group’s manager, Marg Finn to Pitchfork.
“It is with a heavy heart that I have to inform you that Steve has passed away last night. Another great voice has been taken away too early. We will all miss him and all that he gave to The Left Banke,” the statement reads.
The note continues, “Say hi to George and Mike for me,” referring to the two other Left Banke members who passed in recent years including drummer and singer George Cameron (in 2018) and keyboardist Michael Brown (in 2015).
Born Carmelo Esteban Martin, he added his family’s surname Caro to set himself apart from comedian Steve Martin.
The New York group is best known for their 1966 hits ‘Walk Away Renee’ and ‘Pretty Ballerina’, which both charted at No.5 and No.15 on the Billboard Hot 100, respectively.
‘Walk Away Renee’ was also included on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list and was later covered by the Four Tops. The single was also cited as the main inspiration for Boston’s Tom Scholz when he wrote that band’s single ‘More Than a Feeling’.
Caro and company recorded two albums together, Walk Away Renée/Pretty Ballerina (1967) and The Left Banke Too (1968) before disbanding in 1969. For the next 50 years, the band members would occasionally would come together for short-lived reunions.
In 1978, Caro, Finn and Cameron recorded an album that was released eight years later as Strangers on a Train in 1986. Cameron and Finn then reformed the group in 2011 with a revamped line-up.
But The Left Banke were more than two-hit wonders, their 1967 debut is considered the foundation of the baroque-pop genre, fusing Beatlesque harmonies with unusual chamber arrangements and soaring melodies courtesy of Caro.
No one could do wistful longing more than Caro’s emotive falsetto voice, which is evidenced on songs like ‘She May Call You Up Tonight’, ‘I’ve Got Something on My Mind’, ‘Shadows Breaking Over My Head’ and ‘I Haven’t Got the Nerve’.
‘I Haven’t Got the Nerve’ was later sampled in the Folk Implosion’s 1995 hit, ‘Natural One’.
“Thank you for the outpour of love and support on behalf of Steve Martin Caro, our voice,” shared the band on Twitter.
“He will be missed but not forgotten. Listen to our music today and celebrate an extraordinary individual.”