Colleen Walker
LPGA golfer

Colleen Walker, the former LPGA Tour player who won nine times during her 23-year career, died of cancer Dec. 11 at her home in Valrico, Fla. She was 56.

The Ladies Professional Golf Association Tour announced the death. Ms. Walker was diagnosed with breast cancer in January 2003 and returned to the tour that September. Late last year, cancer resurfaced in her hips and pelvis and spread throughout her body.

Ms. Walker played the LPGA Tour from 1982 to 2004. She had a career-high three victories in 1992 and won her lone major title in 1997 in the du Maurier Classic in Canada. In 1998, she won the Vare Trophy for the lowest scoring average and finished a career-high fifth on the money list.

Ms. Walker was born in Jacksonville, Fla., and attended Florida State University. Her 16-year-old son Tyler Walker Bakich is a top junior golfer who won his age group in July in the Florida State Golf Association Junior Match Play Championship.

Ed Cassidy
Spirit drummer

Ed Cassidy, the drummer whose musical background influenced the jazz-tinged sound of the band Spirit, which emerged in the late 1960s as one of the West Coast’s premier rock groups, died of cancer Dec. 6 at an assisted living home in San Jose. He was 89.

The death was confirmed by his ex-wife, Beverley Cassidy.

He had already jammed with such jazz greats as Dexter Gordon and Chet Baker before teaming with Randy California, his guitar-playing stepson from another marriage, to form what became Spirit.

The quintet was known for playing “a challenging, sweeping blend of rock, jazz, blues and other musical strains,” the Los Angeles Times reported in 1991, and had a “power and subtlety” fostered by living communally in Topanga Canyon. Singer Jay Ferguson, pianist John Locke and bassist Mark Andes rounded out the group.

The band was known mainly for its albums, including 1970’s “Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus,” but had a hit single with 1969’s “I Got a Line on You.”

Edward Claude Cassidy was born May 4, 1923, in Harvey, Ill., and raised in Bakersfield, Calif. He was considerably older than the other band members — and relished the musical freedom the band provided.

“Rock ‘n’ roll music really saved my bacon musically,” he told the Times in 1991. “What I wanted was a band with no categories that could attempt anything, any style, and make it their own.”

Spirit quickly developed a significant fan base and a following among other musicians. Jimi Hendrix incorporated Spirit guitar solos into performances and fans took notice of similarities between Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” and Spirit’s “Taurus,” which was released first. When Led Zeppelin played its first gig in the United States in 1968, the band opened for Spirit.

Despite their quick assent to moderate fame, band members were pursuing independent ventures by the early 1970s. As the musicians reassembled in various configurations over the decades, Mr. Cassidy was called “the world’s oldest performing rock ‘n’ roll drummer.” He had long been nicknamed “Mr. Skin” for his bald head.

— From news services