August 12, 2009 / 8:01 AM / 10 years ago

Juice Newton collaborator Otha Young dies

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Otha Young, singer, songwriter and longtime musical partner of Grammy-winning country-pop artist Juice Newton, died August 6 at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles after a battle with cancer. He was 66.

As a writer, Young was best known for Newton’s 1980s hit “The Sweetest Thing (I’ve Ever Known).” The song was No. 1 on the adult contemporary and country charts and appeared on the Top 40 pop charts, reaching No. 7.

Young played guitar alongside Newton since their days on the coffeehouse circuit in Northern California in the 1970s. He played and sang on every one of her albums, including her 1981 breakthrough, “Juice,” which featured the hits “Angel of the Morning” and “Queen of Hearts.”

The two first teamed as the folk duo Dixie Peach in Northern California. Their brand of progressive country rock developed as they went on to form the band Juice Newton and Silver Spur. Moving to Los Angeles, they recorded for RCA and Capitol under Newton’s name starting in the mid-‘70s. Young wrote primarily for Newton, though other artists cut his songs.

A Christmas album of standards and originals recently was completed on which Otha served as lead guitarist, writer, producer and vocalist. He was touring until March.

Young is survived by his wife, Brenda, and daughter, Makena.

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