Bobby Keys: That Was Him on Sax in ‘Brown Sugar’

Bobby Keys’ driving, raw tour de force saxophone solo in the middle of the Rolling Stones’ 1971 hit “Brown Sugar” will still raise the little hairs on your neck decades later. But Keys, who died Dec. 2 at age 70 in Franklin, Tenn., was no one-hit wonder. He played frequently with the Stones for most of the group’s half-century of existence and is heard on numerous other songs in their repertoire, from 1969′s “Live with Me” to 1980′s “Emotional Rescue.” You’ve …

Mike Nichols, Director of ‘The Graduate,’ Dies at 83

Mike Nichols, who died on Nov. 19 at age 83 in New York, might have gone down as one of the great directors in Hollywood history based upon his first two films alone. His 1966 adaptation of the Edward Albee play Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? was nominated for 13 Oscars and won five. His second, 1967’s The Graduate, won him the Best Director statuette, and its witty, provocative send-up of upper-middle-class mores — set to a Simon and Garfunkel …

Jimmy Ruffin: What Becomes of the Brokenhearted?

If only a casual fan of classic 1960s soul music, you might easily confuse Jimmy Ruffin with his younger brother David, who rose to much greater fame as lead singer of the Temptations. But it was Jimmy Ruffin, who passed away Nov. 17 at age 78 in Las Vegas, who scored one of the most iconic Motown hits, an anthem of lost love entitled “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted.” It climbed to No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart …

Jack Bruce: The Voice on ‘Sunshine of Your Love’

The first time you heard Cream’s 1968 hit “Sunshine of Your Love,” it wasn’t just the hypnotic da-da-da-da of the central riff, the deft-fingered caterwaul of Eric Clapton’s guitar solo or the driving beat laid down by drummer Ginger Baker that grabbed you. No, it was the way those elements blended so perfectly with the constrained, darkly cool tenor of bassist Jack Bruce, from whose lips the words flowed like a languid river of exultation as he alternates lines with Clapton: …

Ben Bradlee: A Journalist’s Journalist

Former Washington Post executive editor Benjamin C. Bradlee was one of the biggest names in journalism. He was so big that when the world thought of him, it pictured Jason Robards, the actor who portrayed Bradlee in the hit 1976 movie All the President’s Men. That Hollywood retelling of how the Post helped break the Watergate scandal popularized Bradlee, who passed away Oct. 21 in Washington at 93, as a real-life version of TV’s Lou Grant — gruff and relentlessly …

Taking Tea With Oscar de la Renta

Oscar de la Renta (right), the Dominican Republic-born fashion designer who clad the stars for 60 years and died Oct. 20 at 82, was one of my first teachers at Parsons School of Design back in the late 1960s. A devoted fashion-magazine junkie, I had wangled an interview with Vogue editor-in-chief Diana Vreeland, who suggested I become a clothing designer. My portfolio landed me in a class on fashion design taught by Mr. de la Renta, who had launched his …