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Guitarist Larry Hoppen of Bay Shore dies

Bay Shore native Larry Hoppen, of the pop-rock

Bay Shore native Larry Hoppen, of the pop-rock band "Orleans," died July 24, 2012 at his home in Sanford, Fla. He was 61. Newsday's obituary for Larry Hoppen
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Before Larry Hoppen sang and played guitar for the rock band Orleans as it climbed the pop charts in the 1970s, he was like other Bay Shore teens except for one thing, said his brother Lance: The self-taught musician played trumpet at Brentwood High School's prom.

"He was a brainiac and a musician," said Lance Hoppen, 58, of Nashville, Tenn. "That was his power."

Larry Hoppen died Tuesday at his home in Sanford, Fla. He was 61. A cause was not released.

Orleans, on tour this summer, was scheduled to play Friday at Manorhaven Beach Park in North Hempstead.

That performance has been canceled, but Lance Hoppen said that he and fellow Orleans member John Hall, a former Staten Island congressman, will finish the rest of the band's summer calendar, which picks up again in late August.

Larry Hoppen and another New Yorker, Wells Kelly, formed Orleans in Woodstock in 1972 after Larry Hoppen briefly attended Ithaca College starting when he was 16 in 1967. Hall wrote songs and sang and played guitar with Hoppen while Kelly played the drums, and Lance Hoppen joined the band on bass later in 1972. The group grew to include a second drummer, Jerry Marotta, in 1976.

When the band was becoming popular at clubs and colleges in 1972, Rolling Stone magazine called Orleans "the best unrecorded band in America." In 1975, the band had its first Billboard hit, "Dance With Me," which rose to No. 6 on the charts. "Love Takes Time" was another hit at No. 11 in 1979.

"Still The One," with its catchy chorus -- "We're still having fun, and you're still the one" -- reached No. 5 in 1976. The song lived on in various commercials, from a jingle in ABC's 1977-78 promotions to an ESPN advertisement in 2010. In 2004, Hall claimed the Bush presidential team was playing "Still the One" without permission at events, and the song was removed from the campaign.

"It's my favorite song in the sense that it put my daughter through college," Hall said. "It's a very helpful song."

Lance Hoppen remembers that when his brother was in Ithaca, he joined with Wells Kelly and his brother Sherman Kelly in a band called Boffalongo. That band cut the original of "Dancing in the Moonlight," which Sherman took with him when he joined King Harvest -- the band that made the song a hit in 1973.

Hoppen got married twice in the 1980s. He settled with Patricia Hoppen, now 56, when he met her in the early 1990s in Woodstock. She was "his third and final wife, in his words," said Lance Hoppen. Larry Hoppen was 45 when his twin daughters were born in 1996.

Patricia Hoppen broke the news of her husband's death Wednesday on his Facebook page: "For his fans, I am deeply sorry for YOUR loss," she wrote.

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