Gary Sanford Paxton (born Larry Wayne Stevens; May 18, 1939 – July 17, 2016) was an American record producer, recording artist, and Grammy and Dove Award winning songwriter. Paxton was a member of Skip & Flip and The Hollywood Argyles and was the producer of two number one Billboard Hot 100 singles, “Alley Oop” for The Hollywood Argyles in 1960 and “Monster Mash” forBobby “Boris” Pickett in 1962
Born in Coffeyville, Kansas, Paxton was adopted at age three and raised in rural poverty on a farm. He endured a troubled childhood, molested at age seven and afflicted by spinal meningitis at eleven. His family moved to Arizona when he was twelve, and he started his first band by fourteen, playing country and rock ‘n’ roll. He spent his middle teenage years touring the American Southwest with this and other forgotten bands.
Early stardom came as “Flip” in the pop duo Skip & Flip (with Clyde “Skip” Battin), courtesy of a million-selling 1959 smash the two cut in Phoenix, Arizona, “It Was I”. In what became a pattern in Paxton’s early career, the song was recorded first and the group assembled second: after successfully shopping their demo to a label owner, Gary became “Flip” and Clyde became “Skip”, after the man’s pet poodles, a “group” put together just to have a name on the record. According to Paxton, he was up picking cherries on an Oregon farm when he heard the song on a transistor radio and realized it had become a hit. The duo made television appearances, toured with superstar deejay Alan “Moondog” Freed, and soon followed their success with another hit, “Cherry Pie”. After this second chart appearance, the pair split up.
By 1960, Paxton was living in Hollywood, California and was involved in a number of projects, collaborating with others as a performer, writer, producer, label owner, and audio engineer. He played a major role in the making of two novelty hits in the early 1960s and worked with artists like The Association, Paul Revere & the Raiders, The Four Freshmen, and Tommy Roe