Steve Martin Caro — co-founder and original singer of the baroque-pop band the Left Banke, best known for their 1966 hits “Walk Away Renee” and “Pretty Ballerina” — has died at age 71. The band’s manager, Marg Finn, told Pitchfork he died from heart disease.
The band’s official fan page, reportedly created by the group’s original bassist Tim Finn, first revealed the news.
“It is with a heavy heart that I have to inform you that Steve has passed away last night,” the statement reads. “Another great voice has been taken away too early. We will all miss him and all that he gave to the Left Banke.”
The note ends with the sign-off, “Say hit to George and Mike for me,” referencing two other Left Banke members who died in recent years: drummer and singer George Cameron (in 2018) and keyboardist Michael Brown (in 2015).
The Left Banke were formed in New York City in 1965 by Caro, Brown, Cameron, Finn and drummer Warren David-Schierhorst. The band’s lineup shifted numerous times over the years, but Caro stayed in the group throughout their prime ’60s run.
Caro, originally known as Steve Martin, sang lead on the band’s two breakout singles: the flute- and harpsichord-laced “Walk Away Renee” (which reached No. 5) and “Pretty Ballerina” (No. 15). Brown was the Left Banke’s chief songwriter on their debut LP, 1967’s Walk Away Renee / Pretty Ballerina, but he left before their 1968 follow-up, Left Banke Too, contributing to the band’s demise.
The Left Banke reunited multiple times over the decades. In 1978, Caro, Finn and Cameron recorded an album that was released eight years later as Strangers on a Train. Cameron and Finn reformed the group in 2011 with a revamped lineup.