Larry Hoppen, a founding member of Orleans that sang lead on a number of the band's best known songs, passed away Tuesday (7/24) at the age of 61. Circumstances and a cause of death were not announced pending a medical examination, according to George Gilbert, the attorney for Hoppen. The other Hoppen brother in Orleans, Lance, issued a brief statement expressing his deep sorrow but vowing that the remaining lineup comprising Orleans will carry on with 40th anniversary tour dates following a break to honor his brother. Larry began playing professionally with future Orleans drummer Wells Kelly in a group named Buffalongo in Ithaca, New York. Late in 1971, John Hall recruited Kelly to join his band, which was based in the Woodstock area. When a couple of members bailed on Hall's band the following year, Kelly suggested Hoppen as a guy capable of replacing both. Hall took him up on it and soon after, younger brother Lance Hoppen became the bass player in the band.
The group's first big hit was Let There Be Music, released early in 1975. The success of that song was quickly eclipsed by Dance With Me. Still The One, from the 1976 album Waking and Dreaming, became the best and worst thing that ever happened to the group. After garnering widespread radio exposure, the song was picked-up as a theme song to promote shows on the ABC television network in a campaign that was so relentless that even fans of the band grew to dread the song.
John Hall left the group the following year. Other band members played together sporadically in the ensuing years, but also got involved in other groups - Larry becoming a backing band member for Garland Jeffreys and Kelly going on to play drums with Steve Forbert, Meat Loaf and Clarence Clemons of the E Street Band in his Red Bank Rockers. Kelly's death in 1984 prompted a Orleans reunion and the group played together from time to time until John Hall was elected to Congress in 2006.