Skip to main content

Passings: Gary (Lane) McMillan, Bass Player for the Standells (1938 - 2014)

Gary McMillan, known professionally as Gary Lane, died on Thursday morning at the age of 76 after battling lung cancer. He was the original bassist for the band the Standells.

While Gary was not the first bassist in the group, he was there when the band was reformed by keyboard player Larry Tamblyn (brother of actor Russ Tamblyn), guitarist Tony Valentino, drummer Gary Leeds (later known as Gary Walker in the Walker Brothers) and Lane on bass.

They recorded their first single, You'll Be Mine Someday / Girl in My Heart in 1963 for Linda Records and moved on to Liberty the next year. Dick Dodd, a former Mouseketeer and member of the Bel-Airs, joined the group as the new drummer and they began to see some minor success including an appearance on the series The Munsters but they weren't able to break through on the charts.

For the next two years, they bounced around labels (Vee Jay, MGM) and continued to make guest appearances on TV shows until, in 1965, the signed with Capitol and recorded Dirty Water which would become their only major hit in 1966 going to number 11. The single continues to be in regular rotation on classic hits radio and is included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's "500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll".

Lane left the group in 1966 but rejoined in 2000.

Larry Tamblyn wrote a touching tribute to McMillan on the band's Facebook page:
Gary (Lane) McMillan

September 18, 1938 - November 5, 2014

It is with profound sorrow that I announce the passing of former Standells bassist Gary (Lane) McMillan. Gary had been suffering from lung cancer, which was first diagnosed eighteen months ago. He passed away in his home on November 5, 2014 at 9:30 am. This was less than one year after former member Dick Dodd had succumbed to esophageal cancer (Nov. 29, 2013).

Gary was the Standells original bassist who performed on such hits as “Dirty Water” and “Sometimes Good Guys Don’t Wear White”. He was also part of the Standells when we performed on the Munsters and Bing Crosby TV shows, plus the movie “Get Yourself a College Girl”. He was perhaps one of the most underrated bass players, whose unique solid style of bass playing is an inspiration to many rock musicians today. A quiet and humble man, Gary was a GIANT in my book.

More importantly, Gary was a wonderful person and good friend. I am tearfully reminded that I had lately been saying that we needed to pay Gary and Edie a visit. Talk is cheap. Unfortunately, Standells business has kept me very occupied. Gary and Edie gave their wholehearted approval of the present Standells, and expressed their happiness that the group was still keeping the name alive. Ironically, up until I heard the news that his condition had worsened, I had considered honoring Gary at the next Standells concert as a “special guest”.

As some of you know, my father passed away from brain cancer when I was only fourteen years old. Several years ago, I had prostate cancer and I am fortunate to say that I beat it. So cancer affects me greatly on a personal level. I must plead with each and every one of you to get regular cancer screenings, regardless if you’re a smoker or not. I had one friend who passed away from lung cancer and had never smoked a day in his life. As Edie McMillan expressed it, Gary would want the Standells to continue to rock on. We’ll abide by Gary’s wishes as long as we can.

We will miss you, Gary. Rest in Peace!

Your friend forever, Larry
This is the second member of the Standells to pass in the last year. Dick Dodd died last November.