Jack Lee, Nerves Singer and Writer of Blondie Hit ‘Hanging on the Telephone,’ Dies at 71

Jack Lee, Nerves Singer and Writer of Blondie Hit ‘Hanging on the Telephone,’ Dies at 71

Courtesy Jensen Communications Jack Lee , who co-fronted the influential L.A. band the Nerves in the late 1970s and saw his songs turn into major hits for Blondie and Paul Young , died May 26 in Santa Monica, Calif. at age 71. His death was revealed Wednesday in a press release, which revealed Lee died after battling colon cancer for three years. Although Lee had not had much public visibility in recent years, “he never gave up on his music,” his family said in a statement, “to the very end. His guitar, right by his side. He lived his songs. One by one they told the of his life. Some dreams die. His never will.” His greatest success as a musician came with a pair of high-profile covers. Blondie recorded an extremely faithful cover of the Nerves' “Hanging on the Telephone” in 1978 that remains one of the group's most instantly identifiable signature songs to this day. (Blondie's version went to No. 5 in the U.K., although, as an FM hit, it never charted in the U.S.) Paul Young found success in 1983 with “Come Back and Stay,” a song the Nerves wrote but never recorded; it first appeared on a Lee solo project a couple of years before Young had the hit. (The cover reached No. 4 in the U.K. and No. 22 on the Billboard Hot 100.) Young recorded a total of three Lee songs for his Euro-chart-topping debut album that year. Jack Lee and Debbie Harry (Courtesy Jensen Communications) Although Lee wished he'd had a hit with “Hanging on the Telephone,” too, he relished the idea that it had become a success. “I remember the day vividly,” Lee told Mojo magazine learning the Blondie song was becoming a hit. “It was a Friday. They were going to cut off our electricity at 6 o'clock, the phone too.” It went on to be covered as well by Def Leppard, Girls Aloud and other artists. Even the original Nerves version occasionally surfaces, as it recently did on the series “Outer Banks.” “Even people who hated me […]

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