R&B legend and pillar of the Ashe community Greg Carroll died Friday of an aneurysm at his Creston home.
He was 83.
Born John Wayne Carroll in 1928, he figured prominently in the early 1950s doo-wop musical style as a founding member of the Baltimore vocal quartet The Four Buddies, whose Savoy Records hit “I Will Wait” reached #3 during its nine-week run on the charts in the spring of 1951.
The Four Buddies split up in 1955, and Carroll joined The Orioles, one of the most influential R&B vocal groups of the 50s. Carroll sang second tenor on their 1953 hit “Crying In The Chapel.”
When the Orioles split up in 1955, Carroll worked with several other R&B acts, including one of the several groups who toured under the name The Ink Spots.
By the early 60s, he had moved to Los Angeles and crossed over to the production and songwriting side of the music business. With Doris Troy, he co-wrote the 1963 smash “Just One Look,” which was recorded by Troy, Linda Ronstadt and Anne Murray, among others.
Sometime in the early 70s, Carroll came to western N.C. to visit Appalachian State, where his daughter was considering attending college. “He fell in love with Ashe County at first sight and bought a house here,” according to novelist John Stewart, a long-time friend of Carroll’s.
In 1994, he retired and moved to Ashe County full-time, involving himself in his new community where he saw need.
Carroll was instrumental in organizing the Ashe Civic Center, and donated to them their sound system. He also sat on the Ashe County Transportation Authority board, where he helped work out a health insurance program for employees.
Carroll was featured in the 2007 PBS program “An Evening at the River House,” which was filmed over two days at the well-known Ashe County inn and seasonal night spot. His final performance was the Legends show at the Ashe Civic Center in September 2012.
Carroll is survived by his four children and his partner of 38 years, Lois Chrites.
Chrites said Carroll had been in “pretty good health” following an aneurysm in 2007, but opted to forgo a surgical procedure which entailed risk of paralysis. He decided to “leave it in God’s hands,” she said.
“He loved Ashe County and working with and for the people here. This was his life after he retired,” Chrites said.
This sentiment was echoed by Ashe County Arts Council Executive Director Jane Lonon, a friend and associate of Carrol’s. “Greg really made Ashe County his home in all the best senses of the word. He was very generous in giving back to the community,” she said.
“He was a consummate entertainer,” Chrites said, “He loved it more than anything else in his life and he was excellent at it.”
Pianist Emile Pandolfi, a friend of Carrol’s who played with him said, “He loved the audience. He might be sitting there being a grumpy old grouch, which he could be sometimes, but as soon as he (went out to perform) it was all about the audience.”
John Stewart said of Carroll: “He was able to seize an audience quicker than any performer I have ever seen — by the throat. It was unbelievable.”
Country singer George Hamilton IV, who performed with Carroll, said he was a “wonderful man and a great performer. We’ll all miss him.”
He made friends on both sides of the Atlantic. Rev. Bob Evans, Canon of Liverpool Cathedral and a Member of the British Empire, who once shared a stage with Carroll, said a remembrance for Carroll would be held for him at the cathedral next Sunday.
“He was an unlikely man in an unlikely place at an unlikely time,” Lonon said, “but with the best results.”