'Secret Agent Man' Scribe & Veteran Hit Maker P.F. Sloan Dies After Cancer Battle

18 November 2015 | 2:04 pm | Staff Writer

The songwriting legend was responsible for several key hits of the 1960s

Venerated songwriter P.F. Sloan — the mastermind behind iconic 1960s hits such as Barry McGuire's Eve Of Destruction and Johnny Rivers' Secret Agent Man, among several others — has passed away at the age of 70, it has been confirmed.

According to a statement from Sloan's representatives (via Uncut/Rolling Stone), the songwriter — affectionately known by those who knew him as Phil — had endured a battle with pancreatic cancer ("valiantly", no less) following his diagnosis "several weeks" before his passing on 15 November.

"The world has lost one of its great talents," the statement read.

"Phil was a key element on the music that became the sound of the Sunset Strip. Phil was a true prodigy, signing his first record deal with Aladdin Records when he was 13. He recently published his memoirs, What's Exactly The Matter With Me?, with S.E. Feinberg, and his latest album, My Beethoven, has recently been released on Foothill Records."

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Sloan enjoyed a remarkably prolific decade in the 1960s as the author of several hit songs (as well as spending time as a performer in his own right), getting his writing career under way with 1964's Kick That Little Foot Sally Ann, for Round Robin. He penned a further handful of tunes before cracking his first #1 in 1965 with Eve Of Destruction for McGuire (the song has since been covered by The Turtles, The Grass Roots, D.O.A. and The Screaming Jets).

His next major hit would come in the form of Secret Agent Man (1966), following a run of songs for artists such as The Turtles, The Searchers, Terry Black, Herman's Hermits and The Grass Roots, for whom he would write a further three hits (Only When You're LonelyThings I Should Have Said and Wake Up, Wake Up) before the close of the decade.

Sloan released eight albums over his career, the first three — Songs Of Our Times (1965), Twelve More Times (1966) and Measure Of Pleasure (1968) — all appearing in relatively quick succession before a four-year gap to fourth album Raised On Records (1972). It would be more than 20 years before Sloan would release another album under his name, breaking the silence in 1994 with Serenade Of The Seven Sisters, remaining periodically prolific throughout the early 21st century, having released Child Of Our Times: The Trousdale Demo Sessions in 2001, Sailover in 2006 and recorded his final work, the impending My Beethoven, last year.