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Obituaries in the news
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    Larry Levine
    LOS ANGELES — Larry Levine, the recording engineer who helped Phil Spector re-invent rock ’n’ roll with his ‘‘Wall of Sound’’ technique and won a Grammy for his work with Herb Alpert, died Thursday. He was 80.
    Levine died at his Encino home on his birthday, his wife said. He had severe emphysema.
    In a recent interview with The Associated Press, Levine recalled meeting Spector in the 1960s and beginning a collaboration that lasted for many years.
    Levine set out to build the lush sound that Spector created in his head, a process that involved dozens of musicians and instruments, as well as echo chambers.
    Their first collaboration was on the teen anthem, ‘‘He’s a Rebel,’’ which Levine helped Spector record in 1962. It brought stardom to the girl group the Crystals, just as ‘‘Be My Baby’’ would do for the Ronettes.
    Levine was the engineer on such Spector-produced classics as ‘‘Da Doo Ron Ron’’ and the Righteous Brothers’ ‘‘You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feeling,’’ the song cited by BMI as the most played in the history of U.S. radio.
    Levine also worked with Eddie Cochran, the Beach Boys, Sonny and Cher, Wings, the Carpenters, Dr. John, and Alpert. He won a Grammy for best engineered recording for Alpert and the Tijuana Brass’ 1965 hit ‘‘A Taste of Honey.’’
    Robert Rauschenberg
    TAMPA, Fla. — Pop artist Robert Rauschenberg, whose use of odd and everyday articles earned him regard as a pioneer in pop art, died Monday. He was 82.
    Rauschenberg died of heart failure, said his representative at PaceWildenstein gallery in New York.
    One of his most famous works, or ‘‘combines,’’ was ‘‘Bed,’’ created when he woke up in the mood to paint but had no money for a canvas. His solution was to take the quilt off his bed and use paint, toothpaste and fingernail polish for his creation.
    Rauschenberg, also a sculptor and choreographer, didn’t mine popular culture wholesale, as did Andy Warhol (Campbell’s Soup cans) and Roy Lichtenstein (comic books), but his combines — incongruous combinations of three-dimensional objects and paint — shared pop’s blurring of art and objects from modern life.
    He also responded to his pop colleagues and began incorporating up-to-the-minute photographed images in his works in the 1960s, including, memorably, pictures of John F. Kennedy. He even won a 1984 Grammy Award for best album package for the Talking Heads’ ‘‘Speaking in Tongues.’’
    He studied painting at the Kansas City Art Institute in 1947. He later went to Black Mountain College in North Carolina, where he studied under master Josef Albers (who supposedly hated his work). He also studied at the Art Students League in New York City.
    Diana Barnato Walker
    LONDON — Diana Barnato Walker, a World War II veteran who was the first British woman to pilot an airplane at supersonic speed, died April 28. She was 90.
    Her family did not announce a cause of death.
    A granddaughter of Barney Barnato, a co-founder of the De Beers mining group in South Africa, Barnato was a debutante who volunteered to be a Red Cross nurse in France in 1940.
    Though she had less than 10 hours of flying experience, she passed the test in 1941 to join the Air Transport Auxiliary, which recruited civilian pilots to ferry new, repaired and damaged military aircraft between British factories and assembly plants during World War II.
    Her wartime assignments included delivering some 240 Spitfire fighters.
    Walker made her supersonic flight on Aug. 26, 1963, piloting a Lightning fighter jet that reached a speed of Mach 1.65, or 1,262 mph (2,030 kph). Immediately afterward, she spent several months in a hospital being treated for cancer.
    In ‘‘Spreading My Wings,’’ her 1994 autobiography, she wrote about flying upside down in a Spitfire and being unable to right the aircraft.
    It was dangerous work, and Air Transport Auxiliary women flew without navigational aids. Of more than 150 women who served, 16 died in service.

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