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Pianist wrote famous part for ‘Lake Shore Drive’ dies

Updated: January 7, 2012 8:17AM

On the 40th anniversary of the well-known anthem “Lake Shore Drive,” the man who wrote the instantly recognizable piano part for the song has died.

John Jeremiah — known for his sparkling, animated piano playing — died Monday at Memorial Hospital in Chester in downstate Illinois, the funeral home handling the services confirmed Monday. Mr. Jeremiah was 65.

“He had a very unique style of playing,” said Skip Haynes, who played with Mr. Jeremiah in the band “Aliotta Haynes Jeremiah” for the better part of three decades, beginning in the early 1970s. “It was almost honky-tonk, boogie-woogie, very high speed, very melodic.”

Haynes, who lives in Los Angeles, said Mr. Jeremiah had become ill a couple of weeks ago and died of complications from pneumonia.

Mr. Jeremiah spent more than 20 years playing piano with bands at venues across Chicago and the United States, beginning in the early 1970s, Haynes said.

Although he could be a “curmudgeon” off-stage, “On stage, he was extremely animated and a lot of fun. He would dance, he would do Jerry Lee Lewis-like runs on the piano. He was a true piano player.”

In recent years, Mr. Jeremiah had moved back to downstate Percy, where he grew up, Haynes said. Mr. Jeremiah had been helping plan a reunion concert in Chicago for “Aliotta Haynes and Jeremiah,” Haynes said. The concert, which does not yet have a venue, was expected to be a fund-raiser for the Greater Chicago Food Depository. Now, Haynes said, it’s likely to be part fund-raiser and part memorial concert.

Survivors include Mr. Jeremiah’s wife, Eva Jeremiah, the funeral home confirmed.

Funeral arrangements were pending late Monday.

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