Andrew Gold may not have been a household name, but you probably know all the words to at least one of his songs.
The musician and songwriter, who had a top-10 hit with "Lonely Boy" but whose "Thank You for Being a Friend" is forever immortalized as The Golden Girls theme song, died Friday in his sleep. He was 59 and had suffered from renal cancer, but he seemed to be responding well to treatment and may have had a heart attack, according to his family.
Born to a singer mom and composer dad in Burbank, Calif., Gold—already an accomplished musician—approached Linda Ronstadt when she and the Stone Poneys performed at his North Hollywood high school in the 1960s. He went on to become a permanent member of her band and was responsible for the arrangements on the albums Heart Like a Wheel, Prisoner in Disguise and Hasten Down the Wind.
"He could really pick up any instrument and play it," one of his sisters told the Los Angeles Times.
Gold went on to record as a session musician with artists such as James Taylor, Carly Simon, Maria Muldaur, Jackson Browne and Loudon Wainwright III.
While he was behind the scenes more often than not, Gold's first solo hit was 1977's "Lonely Boy," which reached No. 7 on the Billboard singles chart, and the following year he struck gold again with "Thank You for Being a Friend," off of his album All This and Heaven Too.
Millions of people listened to that song every Saturday night for seven years once it became the Golden Girls theme in 1985, sung by Cindy Fee.
He is survived by his wife, Leslie Kogan; mother Marni Nixon; sisters Martha Carr and Melani Gold Friedman; and three daughters from his first marriage, which ended in divorce.
The family said that funeral services will be private but that a public event is in the works.