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1915 - Pioneer Juan Batista Suraco buried in a family graveyard, currently unmarked, in Bouquet Canyon near Benz Road [story]
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Stephen Stone, hit songwriter, in-demand producer, top music publishing executive, three-time Grammy nominee, devoted family man and longtime Santa Clarita Valley resident, died Tuesday morning, April 3. He was 74.

Stone was the eldest of three sons born to country and western music legend Cliffie Stone and his first wife, Dorothy. Each grew up in the SCV and chiseled his own accomplished career in the music industry over the past several decades.

“It is with inconceivable sadness I regret to share that on Tuesday, April 3, 2018, Stephen Stone went home to be with the Lord,” eldest daughter Amanda Stone wrote in a Facebook post the next day.

“This extraordinary man I called father filled every room with peace and laughter,” she wrote. “This was totally unexpected. He went in for corrective surgery last Thursday to repair damage from colon cancer a couple years ago. The surgery was a success and they confirmed he was cancer free! He was sore but in good spirits and was looking forward to physical therapy and life getting back to normal. He awoke Tuesday and had difficulty breathing and unable to recover which led to cardiac arrest.”

“It’s shocking, not only how many people I’ve heard from, but people who say things like, ‘It’s so weird – I just talked to him last week,'” Amanda Stone said Saturday. “I’ve gotten hundreds of calls. I can’t believe he many people he still talked to. I’m in awe of him. He was pretty spectacular.”

Born Stephen Clifford Snyder Stone on October 24, 1943, at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica, Steve (as he was best known) grew up on the family ranch in Sand Canyon. He graduated from William S. Hart High School in Newhall in 1961, studied at Pacific Life Bible College, and began his music industry career soon after. He had resided in Agua Dulce the past 20 years.

Stone is survived by his wife of 52 years, Ina Jobe Stone; daughters Amanda Stone (of Agua Dulce), Amy Stone (Santa Clarita) and Melissa Stone (Sherman Oaks); brothers Curtis Stone (Nashville) and Jonathan Stone (Sherman Oaks); and sister Linda Hyde (Arcadia).

He is also survived by grandchildren Seth Elmendorf and Abbie Elmendorf (Amanda’s son, from Phoenix, and daughter, from Agua Dulce); and great-grandchildren Shayden, Caydence and Colsen (Seth and Kristynn’s children, Phoenix).

Steve and Ina Stone, Friendly Valley, February 2017.

Steve and Ina Stone, Friendly Valley, February 2017.

Public Memorial, City Council Tribute
The family has planned a public memorial service on Monday, April 16, at the Village Church, 24802 Alderbrook, Newhall 91321, starting at noon.

Longtime Stone family friend Andre Veluzat, a classmate of Steve’s at Hart High School in 1959 and best man at his wedding to Ina Jobe in 1966, will deliver the eulogy. Veluzat and his brother Renaud now own Melody Ranch Motion Picture Studios nearby in Placerita Canyon.

Also slated to share memories at the service is Pastor Jack Hayford, who founded Church on the Way in Van Nuys and Valencia. Hayford was a dean at Pacific Life Bible College when Stone and Veluzat attended in the 1960s.

Pastor Jack is a well-known songwriter as well, and scores of his tunes were published over the years by Mandina Music & Rocksmith Music LLD, a Christian music company Stone later co-founded with Sam Trust.

A Committal service will follow at 2 p.m. at Eternal Valley Memorial Park Mortuary, 23287 Sierra Highway, Newhall 91321.

The Santa Clarita City Council will adjourn its meeting in Stone’s honor this Tuesday, April 10, according to the agenda.

The Stone family has established a memorial webpage, where family, friends and members of the community may send condolences and share memories.

* * * * *

Growing Up in Newhall
“What did I think of Steve? Oh, that’d take a week,” Andre Veluzat said Saturday. Ever the great storyteller, he got right to it.

“We met in 1959,” Veluzat said. “He was going to Hart High School, and that’s when I started at Hart. Everybody said, ‘You’ve gotta meet this guy, Steve Stone.’ ‘Well, what’s he do?’ ‘Oh, he’s big time! He’s in the music business, his dad’s Cliffie Stone and everybody knows him and loves him.'”

Veluzat said it took a few encounters, but eventually, “(Steve) took a liking to me, and we’ve been best friends ever since. We grew up together in high school and then went to Bible college together. I was the best man at his wedding and he was my best man. We just shared a lot of wild stuff in town, partied a lot, and then spent a lot of time in church together. He was a friend you could talk to, confide in, a mentor.

“Back in those days, the ’60s, Steve had money, and I was only making $25 a week, and when we’d go out to dinner or out to do something someplace, he’d always pay,” Veluzat said. “That’s the way he wanted it, so that’s how it was.”

Paul Veluzat with sons Renaud (left) and Andre (right), Melody Ranch, early 1990s.

Paul Veluzat with sons Renaud (left) and Andre (right), Melody Ranch, early 1990s.

The Stone and Veluzat families were very close, Andre said. “We lived together at his folks’ house in Catalina, rode motorcycles, work on our old cars. We traveled to ‘Frisco. Had a great time.

“When we had snow here in Newhall for two or three weeks (January 1962), we’d build toboggan rides. He’d come over to my mom and dad’s house and we’d have breakfast, and we’d have music together. If Steve wasn’t around, something was wrong. We’d say, ‘Where’s Steve? We’d better get a hold of him.’

“I helped him get his wife, at Bob’s Big Boy (where she worked),” Veluzat said. “We prayed and he got that girl that he just loved. We kept going down there and going down there, and finally I said, ‘Well, why don’t you invite her to church? She’s probably thinking you want to take her out to a bar or somewhere…just ask her to church and see what happens.’ So he did, she accepted, and he was flipped out, man. They went to church together and that started everything.”

* * * * *

The Stone Dynasty - Stephen, Jonathan, Cliffie and Curtis at a BMI Awards dinner show in 1989.

The Stone Dynasty – Stephen, Jonathan, Cliffie and Curtis at a BMI Awards dinner show in 1989.

 

A Colorful Career
Steve Stone’s music industry career began at Cliffie Stone’s Central Songs, and from there his path took him to Capitol Records, ATV Music, Mike Curb Productions, Lorimar Telepictures, Warner-Chappell Music, and finally Sony/ATV Music. He also co-owned his own music publishing company, Mandina Rocksmith Music, established in the ’70s and sold by the partners in 2001.

Here’s more about Steve Stone’s colorful professional career from Cliffie Stone’s website:

In the Acknowledgments section of Cliffie’s talent show book (for a BMI Awards show in 1989), he wrote: “My three ‘buddy’ sons – Stephen, Curtis and Jonathan – who followed in my musical footsteps to ‘find their place in the sun,’ and now I’m learning from them. Each of them is successful in their own right in the music business.”

Cliffie always called Steve his “flower child” because he advocated peace, love and acted like he didn’t have a care in the world – a pied piper if you will.

Steve was and continues to be a versatile and multi-faceted talent: he’s a piano player, music publisher, songwriter, producer and a three-time Grammy-nominated finalist.

Music Publisher: ATV Music Group; Central Songs; Mike Curb Productions; Motown; Warner/Chappell; Sony/ATV Music; Lorimar-Telepictures; and a highly successful Christian publishing company that Sam Trust and Steve founded: Mandina Music (BMI) & Rocksmith Music (ASCAP) LLD.

These Christian catalogs include two hundred songs and many of them are written by Steve’s good friend, Pastor Jack Hayford (who founded ‘Church On The Way’ in Van Nuys). Pastor Hayford wrote a classic worship hymn called ‘Majesty’ which most churches worldwide have played at one time or another.

Steve Stone and friends at ATV, mid-1970s.

Steve Stone (right) and friends at ATV, mid-1970s.

Songs: Steve has written over two hundred songs which have been recorded. They include: Perry Como – “Love Looks So Good On You” (Steve Stone & Charlie Williams); Eddy Arnold – “It Ain’t Over Yet” (Steve Stone); Roy Rogers – “It’s Good To Be Home Again” (Steve Stone & Chris Roberts); Dottie West – “The Night Love Let You Down”’ (Steve Stone & Johnny Cunningham); Ronnie Milsap – “Are You Loving Me Like I’m Loving You” (Steve Stone & Johnny Cunningham); Molly Bee – “Big Daddy’s Gonna Bring It on Home to Ma-Ma” (Steve Stone & Bob Duncan); Tennessee Ernie Ford – numerous country and Christian songs including “Come on Down” (Steve Stone & Pastor Jack Hayford).

Producer: Capitol Records (and several independent record companies): Four albums with Tennessee Ernie Ford; one album with Glen Campbell and Tennessee Ernie Ford (“Ernie Sings & Glen Picks”); and three albums with Freddie Hart.

There were numerous albums with artists who include: Dorsey Burnette, Brush Arbor, and Johnny and Joni Mosby.

Along the way, Steve Stone played a movie extra, including one shoot wearing a Navy uniform.

As a young man, Steve Stone was a sometime movie extra, including one shoot decked out in a Navy uniform.

Grammys: Steve was a Grammy-nominated “finalist” three times: (1) Tennessee Ernie Ford’s “Make a Joyful Noise” – “Best Contemporary Christian Album” (Producer, Steve Stone); (2) Michelle Pillar’s “Look Who Loves You Now” – “Best Contemporary Christian Song” (Songwriter, Steve Stone); and (3) Rodney Dangerfield’s “Twist & Shout” – “Best Comedy Recording” (from the motion picture “Back to School” (co-produced by Steve Stone and Linda Goldner Perry).

Although Cliffie was extremely proud of all three of his sons’ accomplishments in the music business, what he was proud of the most was their kindness, honesty, keen sense of humor and what gentlemen they all turned out to be.

Both Cliffie and his first wife, Dorothy, are responsible and are to be commended for instilling these wonderful qualities in all of them. As the saying goes, “An apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree.” In this case, it’s three apples.

* * * * *

In an April 5 homage on Facebook, J. Buck Ford, son of legendary singer, recording artist and TV host Tennessee Ernie Ford, posted the cover of the aforementioned album Steve Stone produced for Ernie and Glen Campbell 43 years ago. Ford recounted his father’s affinity for the project and the man behind the recording console:

Released on May 5, 1975, “Ernie Sings and Glen Picks” was a project that was perhaps closest to Dad’s heart… certainly because of his great respect for Glen, but principally because of the man who conceived and produced the album from its inception through its production; a man Dad said “inspired him to want to sing again,” a man I grew up with… who was more than just a lifelong friend – he was, in every sense of the word, my brother….

It is next to impossible for me to convey how deeply this loss hits home. The Stones and Fords were literally one family for more years than I can count. (Steve) was the big brother I never had, and as true a pal as I’ve ever been blessed to have.

Go rest high, my brother, my friend…the world was a better place with you in it, and your loss will echo across our lives…

This is me, heartbroken.

* * * * *

Steve Stone workin' it at the Palomino in North Hollywood, December 1980.

Steve Stone workin’ it at the Palomino in North Hollywood, December 1980.

Amanda Stone shared a message she sent to her dad via Facebook on Father’s Day 2017:

When I think of my father Stephen Stone I realize that the father he is, is also the man he is: a man of faith. He is gentle and kind ALL WAYS!! (Spelling correct.) He is also his father’s son and if you knew/know them both, you know what that means. Superman!!! Now, now — he’s going to read this and make a face but he knows it’s true!! And YOU KNOW YOU ARE LOVED!!!

My first thoughts are about his Popeye arms :). I always think of his hands and the way he would run his hands through your hair when you’re not feeling well. He rests his hand on your shoulder in passing or nudges you when you’re wrong ;) ah…

And then there’s the furrowed brow when he can’t believe that you said that!!!! In spite of it, in the end, you know you’re OK because you’re his…spouse, child, grandchild, great-grandchild…his family, his friend. He always makes you feel OK. Thank you for that, Dad! Thank you, Dad, for always being the voice of reason and the calm in the storm, and always reminding me that all things are possible with faith. I love you!

Steve Stone and daughter Amy Stone on his birthday in October 2016.

Steve Stone and daughter Amy Stone on his birthday in October 2016.

Comment On This Story
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7 Comments

  1. Sharon Hamer Donaldson says:

    How sad to hear of Steve’s passing. Just saw him last Oct. at a memorial for another long-time Sand Canyon resident, Gene Ruddell.
    I, too, go back to Steve’s Hart High days as I was a good friend of his sister Linda’s and would drive my’41 Chevy from Sand Cyn to Hart with my friends Linda, Steve and Pete Fagerlin accompanying me. Steve’s ever-present smile, infectious laugh, funny stories and positive attitude always made for a fun ride. I’ve seen him a few times over the past nearly 60 years and he never changed. Thanks, Steve, for the good memories and I’m so glad you were in my life.

  2. What a beautiful story/tribute this is. Thank you. My deepest condolences to the family.

  3. Earl P Ball says:

    Every minute I spent in Steve’s Awesome presence from from 1965 thru about 4 years ago when I saw him last was a manifold blessing to me. He helped keep me sane at times and was an understanding friend and cohort. I extend my profound sympathy to his family and many friends.

  4. Pennysimpson says:

    I felt Steve tap me on the shoulder today. So I googled him to see what he is up to. Sad and shocked I found the news exactly 1 year ago he passed. He and I fell in love at the broadmoor hotel in Colorado Springs. He wanted to get married but we were too young 16. We kept in touch over all the years and Steve I will always love you. I stayed in Saugus at the ranch with cliffie and Linda and Curtis and Jonathan and lovely Dorothy. We spent a summer down at Newport Beach. Wonderful memories Steve and I loved your little boat. May you always be hovering around as you are an angel in every way. Love from Penny

  5. David cutting says:

    Hello Ina David here I was in my room today thinking about Steve how much I missed him so I thought I would look up his name see if I can find him and I found out he’s gone home to be with the Lord to send you all my love think about you often you’re in my prayers you and Steven meant so much to me and helped me so much when I needed it so bad I love you guys I’m so sorry he’s gone God bless you.

  6. Joseph Philip D'Onofrio says:

    Hi-
    My name is Joe D’Onofrio and I’m a musician who had the pleasure of spending time with Steve Stone one night at a nice bar in Hollywood in the 1994. He was sitting next to me and I sang a tune I wrote called
    “If You Aint in the Movies It’s the Same Old Show”. He seemed to really like it and invited me up to his studio. Then the Northridge Earthquake came and I moved back east and didn’t get in touch with him- my loss since he was one of the nicest people I ever met (also, I was with another producer at the time).
    May he rest in peace.
    Joe D’Onofrio

Leave a Comment


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