01/08/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

R.I.P. Dennis Yost: Remembering a Beautiful Voice in "Stormy" Times

As I become an aged rock critic, one of life's true pleasures is finding something that I missed in my music exploration, especially something I'm actually too young to remember.

Growing up in the Seventies in New Jersey, I had a few albums by the Atlanta Rhythm Section. ARS was a fantastic band with southern charm and serious chops -- sort of splitting the distance between Wet Willie and Steely Dan. I remember reading that the band featured former members of a band called the Classics IV. The Classics IV had a few big pop hits, namely "Spooky," "Stormy" and "Traces," as well as another slightly smaller and sweeter number called "Everyday With You Girl."

ARS covered the first song, Santana the second, while "Traces" and "Everyday With You" were favorites of Gwen, the Jamaican maid who helped raise me, so I was vaguely familiar with the stunning voice of Dennis Yost, the frontman of The Classics IV, even though I wouldn't even know the man's name for many years to come.

A couple years ago, I ordered a few Classics IV compilations and discovered an undervalued band that organically combined a real pop sense with a nice, mysterious sense of the "Spooky" -- sort of like a less ambitious, American Zombies. Yost's sweet but somehow elusive voice was the central force in the group, and I only wish now I had taken the time to see him sing live. Now I read that Yost had been seriously ill for a few years, but his music had never really gone away -- in fact "Spooky" had become nearly hip, having been prominently sampled for John Legend's 2006 song "Save Room."

For Dennis Yost, there may be no Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, right or wrong, but there ought to be some measure of appreciation for a lovely voice that probably touched you whether you know it or not.