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Music

Bill Burkette of The Vogues vocal group from Turtle Creek dies

Ben Schmitt
| Thursday, March 1, 2018, 4:18 p.m.
William W. Burkette III,
Submitted
William W. Burkette III,

Bill Burkette, the original lead singer of Turtle Creek-based vocal group The Vogues, died Thursday, his wife said.

Burkette grew up in Turtle Creek and lived most of his adult life in Murrsyville. He was 75 and had lymphoma, according to his wife of 54 years, Elaine.

She said he died at 7 a.m. at William Penn Care Center in Penn Township.

"He was always singing," his wife said. "The singing was a great part of his life. That's what he loved to do."

The Vogues, who emerged from Turtle Creek High School, were known for the hit songs "Five O'Clock World," "You're the One" and "Turn Around, Look at Me."

"You're the One" reached No. 4 on Billboard's Top 100.

The four-member, male vocal group famously ascended from day jobs in the Mon Valley to Billboard's Top 100 when they were just a few years out of high school.

The original lineup comprised of Burkette, the lead singer, Don Miller, Hugh Geyer and Chuck Blasko. They were together as a musical act for about eight years, Elaine Burkette said.

"It was a lot of fun," she said. "We traveled and we saw quite a bit of the entire country. We took the kids with us. It certainly was interesting."

When the group formed in high school, it was known as the Val-Aires. Members briefly split up after high school as they joined the military or attended college. They reformed in 1965 as The Vogues.

"Things took off from there," Elaine Burkette said.

The band's commercial success lasted until the early 1970s. After that, Burkette told his wife, "I guess it's time for me to get a regular job," she said, laughing.

He worked as a sales manager for a home improvement company, living in Murrysville.

"Bill taught people how to sell various products," she said. "It was a good living. It got our children through school."

He never fully stopped singing, sometimes performing with another version of The Vogues.

"He had such a great voice," his wife said.

Burkette, born William Burkette III, is survived by two daughters, Lori (Greg) Cinna and Sheri (Scott) Good, and a son William W. (Julie) Burkette, IV; and three grandchildren.

Visitation is Sunday from 2-6 p.m. at the Jobe Funeral Home & Crematory Inc., 118 Shaw Ave. in Turtle Creek. A funeral service will follow at 6 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to American Cancer Society.

Ben Schmitt is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7991, bschmitt@tribweb.com or via Twitter at @Bencschmitt.

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