P.F. Sloan, composer of major hits by Johnny Rivers (“Secret Agent Man”) and Barry McGuire (“Eve of Destruction”) died Nov. 15 at his home in Los Angeles. The singer, songwriter and guitarist performed Oct. 2 at the New Orleans roots-music festival the Ponderosa Stomp.
Sloan, 70, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer several weeks before his death, his publicist reported Monday.
In addition to being the composer of songs recorded by Rivers, McGuire, The Turtles, The Grass Roots, Herman’s Hermits, The Fifth Dimension, The Searchers and others, Sloan played for hundreds of recording sessions. He created the classic guitar intro, for instance, to The Mamas & The Papas’ “California Dreamin’.”
Songwriter Jimmy Webb (“By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” “Wichita Lineman,” “Up, Up and Away”) wrote a song inspired by Sloan’s many years of absence from the music scene.
“I have been seeking P.F. Sloan,” the lyrics of “P.F. Sloan” say. “But no one knows where he has gone. No one ever heard the song that boy set winging.”
Sloan was philosophical about that period of his life as well as the lack of compensation he received his songwriting.
“I had the opportunity to use the gift the divine had given me, to do music,” he said in September. “The money really was secondary. In the end, they took it all, and that’s the way that song went. It took me, like, 35 years to pull it all together with grace. But music’s in my soul, so I’ve got to express that.”