Harvey Geller, lyricist and a former sales executive for Billboard magazine in a music career that began in the mid-1950s, died Thursday (March 12), after a brief illness. He was 86.

A Tarzana resident for 50 years, Geller also worked as writer, was the West Coast editor of Cash Box magazine and had a stint with Daily Variety. Geller’s songs were recorded by groups such as the Kingston Trio, the Brothers Four and the River City Ramblers and included such compositions as "Blue Water Line," "Charleston Town" and "Mark Twain." He was recognized as an authority on the history of popular music dating back to the "Big Band" swing era and served for many years on various selection committees of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

In addition, Geller founded several publishing companies, including Clarinet Music Publishing, and was a prolific writer of liner notes for album jackets. In retirement, he contributed to various news publications and thrilled at making it into Steve Harvey's columns in the Los Angeles Times with humorous quips. He never ate at a restaurant without a discount coupon and saw as many as three movies in a day.

Born June 29, 1922, in New York and raised in New York City, Geller served in Gen. George S. Patton’s U.S. Third Army in the Battle of Argentan two and a half months after the D-Day invasion in 1944 and was part of the division that liberated Paris later that year. After the war, he graduated from New York University and began his music career as a song plugger before moving to California in 1958 and becoming promotion manager for Bobby Darin.

He is survived by a daughter, Alix Geller of Sonoma County, Calif.; a son, Steven Geller of Las Vegas; brothers Marty and Bert Geller of New York, and six grandchildren.

Burial will be in the Geller family plot in Long Island, N.Y., with a memorial celebration for family and friends at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 22, at the family residence in Tarzana.

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