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Skip Haynes, who wrote Chicago anthem ‘Lake Shore Drive,’ dead at 71

John Jeremiah (left), Skip Haynes and Mitch Aliotta | File photo

Skip Haynes, who wrote the Chicago anthem “Lake Shore Drive,” died of cancer Monday in California.

Mr. Haynes, 71, had been the last surviving member of Aliotta, Haynes and Jeremiah, whose performance of the jingly-jangly early 1970s song became a hardy perennial of radio.

It gained new exposure this year when it was featured on the soundtrack of the movie “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” which gave him great pleasure, said Rikki Poulos, his partner of 30 years.

When Mr. Haynes grew ill, Poulos told the Chicago native she’d try to see that some of his ashes get scattered on Lake Shore Drive.

“Yeah, that would be the best,” she said Thursday. “I told him that’s what we are going to do, and he smiled maybe just a little bit.”

Skip Haynes. | Laurel Canyon Animal Company

Mr. Haynes, who’d lived since 1988 in the Laurel Canyon neighborhood of Los Angeles, was thrilled about making it onto the movie soundtrack.

Writer-director James Gunn “loved the song and wanted to include it,” Poulos said. “Skip was so excited.”

He went to the Los Angeles opening of the movie with other Chicago expatriates.

“It’s a twist of fate,” Poulos said, that “he’s not going to get a chance to enjoy” some of the money from the soundtrack. “But just having it happen for him, it brought him great joy.”

Mr. Haynes was born Eugene Heitlinger, but a club manager told him early in his career there wasn’t enough room on the marquee for that. His grandfather called him Skippy, so he decided to take the name Skip Haynes, Poulos said.

Bassist Mitch Aliotta and keyboardist John Jeremiah — who’d performed with legendary soul singer Minnie Riperton — were the other members of Aliotta, Haynes and Jeremiah, formed after Mr. Haynes met Aliotta at the old Saddle Club in Old Town.

“We just ended up going back to my place, and we would sing till, like, 8 in the morning,” Mr. Haynes told the Chicago Sun-Times in 2015. “The first time we sang together, it sounded really cool.”

Their big break came in 1970. Mr. Haynes was living at the time above the Earl of Old Town, the legendary folk club at North and Wells.

“John Jeremiah came over to rehearse, and [club owner] Earl Pionke came upstairs and said, ‘My act just quit — can you come down and do something?’ ” Mr. Haynes said. “So we went down and started singing. And we didn’t stop for 12 years.”

When Mr. Haynes composed their signature tune, “I only intended that song to be played once for our manager — he’s the only one that liked the song. We didn’t like it. Two weeks later, we’re in the studio recording it.

In an interview earlier this year posted on YouTube pegged to the release of “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” Mr. Haynes said: “We thought: Why? There’s 10,000 people that live on Lake Shore Drive. What are we going to sell — four records? And we just didn’t want to do it.”

Skip Haynes. | YouTube

Then, Jeremiah disappeared for two days and worked out “this incredible piano part,” according to Mr. Haynes. “We liked the part so much that we started performing the song just to listen to John play the piano.”

The band recorded a demo they used to get financial backing for the professional recording that became the hit.

Mr. Haynes worried, though, that radio stations might view the song’s abbreviation for the lakeside thoroughfare as a drug reference and keep it off the air.

“Right at the very end, Mitch and I were going to do the vocals, ‘Slippin’ on by on L.S.D., Friday night trouble-bound,’ ” he said in the 2015 Sun-Times interview. “Mitch said, ‘Definitely, put the ‘L.S.D.’ in.’ Mitch was a funny guy.”

Aliotta died in 2015. Jeremiah died in 2011.

The song lived on — on radio and iTunes and in commercials, including one in Switzerland.

Poulos said a community memorial for Mr. Haynes is being planned in Laurel Canyon, where he was a well-known wildlife activist and operated Laurel Canyon Animal Company, which created recordings she said some veterinarians use to soothe animals.

He worked to preserve wildlife habitat and fought the use of a rodenticide that works up the food chain from rats to birds and coyotes, according to Poulos, who said he once spent three and a half months trying to find a sick coyote so it could be treated for mange.

Though an animal activist, Mr. Haynes never gave up meat. When he’d get a craving for an Italian beef sandwich, Poulos said he’d drive to Taste Chicago, a Burbank restaurant run by actor Joe Mantegna’s wife Arlene that specializes in Chicago foods.

“Lake Shore Drive” by Skip Haynes

There’s a road I’d like to tell you ’bout, Lives in my hometown

Lake Shore Drive the road is called, And it’ll take you up or down

From rats on up to riches, Fifteen minutes you can fly

Pretty blue lights along the way, to help you right on by

Blue lights shining with a heavenly grace, to help you right on by

And there ain’t no road just like it, anywhere I’ve found

Running south on Lake Shore Drive, Heading into town

Slippin’ on by on L.S.D. Friday night trouble-bound


It starts up north on Hollywood, Water on your driving side

Concrete mountains rearing up, Throwing shadows just about five

Sometimes you can smell the green if your mind is feeling fine

There ain’t no finer place to be, Running Lake Shore Drive

And no peace of mind-er place to be than riding on Lake Shore Drive


And there ain’t no road just like it, anywhere I’ve found

Running south on Lake Shore Drive, Heading into town

Just slippin’ on by on L.S.D. Friday night-trouble bound

It’s Friday night and you’re looking clean

Too early to start the rounds

A ten-minute ride from the Gold Coast back

Makes sure you’re pleasure bound

It’s four o-clock in the morning, and all the people have gone away

Just you and your mind and Lake Shore Drive and tomorrow is another day

The sun shine’s fine in the morning time and tomorrow is another day

There ain’t no road just like it, anywhere I’ve found

Running south on Lake Shore Drive, Heading into town

Just snakin’ on by on L.S.D. Friday night-trouble bound