Ric de Azevedo, a soulful member of the massive King Family vocal troupe, music composer and TV producer, has died. He was 75.
De Azevedo died on March 14 following an undisclosed illness, the King Family and King Cousins said in Facebook post. He died at his home in the Salt Lake City suburb of Fruit Heights, Utah, a spokesperson for the family confirmed Tuesday in an email to The Times.
“It is with great sadness that we share the news that we lost our dear cousin and brother Ric de Azevedo who, surrounded by members of his family, passed away on Tuesday night after a lengthy illness. Even though we knew this was coming, it’s always too soon and we can’t believe he’s gone. Our hearts are breaking,” the March 15 post said.
The group began in the 1930s, assembled by William King Driggs, who was a college voice trainer and a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. His daughters made up the family’s featured performers, the Grammy Award-nominated King Sisters, whose hits included “I’ll Get By” and “In the Mood.” Alyce King, a founding member of the quartet, was de Azevedo’s mother.
De Azevedo also served as an associate or consulting producer on a number of TV projects, including “The Far West,” “California Fever,” “Young Maverick,” “Private Benjamin” and “The Dukes of Hazzard” spinoff, “Enos.” He recorded music along with the King Family and its teen counterpart the King Cousins for Warner Bros. Records, then recorded as a solo artist for Capitol Records. He also served as postproduction executive for Universal Studios and Warner Bros. Television and as a director of film services for Warner Bros. Studios.
Onscreen, he was best known for his performances with TV’s so-called First Family of Song in the 1960s and ’70s and was considered a “cornerstone” in the musical troupe comprising more than three dozen family members. Together, they starred in the ABC musical variety series “The King Family Show,” which aired in 1965, 1966 and 1969. Although the show ended, the family repeatedly returned to national television with 17 holiday specials.
The performance troupe traveled constantly between the 1960s and ’70s and also performed on “The Ed Sullivan Show” and on “The Hollywood Palace” variety show, according to the family’s website. In the 1980s, he joined the Lettermen vocalists — brothers Jim and Gary Pike and Bob Engemann— to record as the newly styled group Reunion andtoured for three decades.
“Christmas With the King Family,” which aired annually for years, was initially broadcast in 1967 at the height of the Vietnam War. De Azevedo had been serving in the U.S. Army at the time and surprised his mother during the broadcast to sing “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” A special leave had been granted and arranged by the Army’s public relations department as a morale booster for families across the United States, the spokesperson said.
“Many of you came to know and love Ric and appreciate his incredible talent through our family’s TV series, specials, records and concerts over the years. Ric was a vibrant part of our family shows and audiences always delighted in his performances and cherished the many memorable moments he was a part of — from singing and dancing in our Top Twenty segments, through his beautiful solos and of course the magical moment he surprised his mom Alyce during our very first Christmas special,” the post said.
“We’re so grateful that these and so many other wonderful examples of his times on stage and screen live on and continue to enthrall generations across the decades.”
The King Cousins, who wrote the Facebook post announcing De Azevedo’s death, described him as a “cherished friend” and “honorable man” offstage.
“While all of us mourn the loss of a cornerstone of our family, we are grateful for the incredible and enduring legacy he leaves us all, and grateful for the love and appreciation that each of you in our extended community of fans and friends have shown Ric and our entire family through the years,” they said.
De Azevedo was born Richard Renato de Azevedo on May 10, 1947, in North Hollywood to Alyce King and Sydney de Azevedo, who died after returning from service in World War II when the musician was 5, the spokesperson said. (King later married actor-producer Robert Clarke.)
De Azevedo is survived by his wife Anna, children Jennifer and Eric and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He is also survived by his brother, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” actor Cam Clarke and his cousin Tina Cole of “My Three Sons.”