NEW YORK (AP) - Rich Cronin, whose band LFO sang the breezy summer hit “Summer Girls” that name-checked Abercrombie & Fitch, has died after struggling with health setbacks including leukemia and a stroke. He was 36.
Cronin _ who co-wrote “Summer Girls,” LFO’s biggest hit _ died in a Boston hospital Wednesday, former bandmate Brad Fischetti said.
“Last summer, when we did our reunion tour, he was certainly having health problems, but he was cancer-free at that time,” Fischetti said Thursday. “I don’t think it was cancer that took him yesterday, but certainly it all started with cancer.”
His manager, Melissa Holland, said he died of complications from the leukemia.
“Rich was an incredible fighter, and every opportunity when his health was in good condition, he was living his life to the fullest, especially in music,” she said. “He just always seemed to bounce back, and this time, it got the best of him.”
Fischetti said he last exchanged text messages with Cronin about 10 days ago, when his bandmate went into the hospital. He recalls Cronin telling him about how people were asking for his autograph and talking to him about “Summer Girls.”
“He said, ‘Listen man, people still care about us,’” he remembered.
Despite its sophomoric lyrics _ “New Kids on the Block had a bunch of hits, Chinese food makes me sick” _ “Summer Girls” was an instant favorite with teens and got heavy rotation on MTV. It’s also known as the “Abercrombie & Fitch” song because its chorus celebrates women who wear the retailer’s clothes.
LFO came to prominence around the same time as the Backstreet Boys and ‘N Sync, when boy bands were exploding on the pop scene. LFO _ an acronym for Lyte Funky Ones _ consisted of Cronin, Fischetti and Lima.
The group mixed singing and rapping with a distinct pop feel; Cronin rapped on “Summer Girls,” which was top five hit in 1999. Its self-titled debut album, which also included the hit “Girl on TV,” sold more than a million copies.
But the group would not have the same impact on the charts as their more popular peers, then faded from the limelight and disbanded.
Cronin put out a solo album, and in 2007 starred in the VH1 reality series “Mission: Man Band,” in which former members of boy bands came together to form a new group.
“He actually filmed that almost immediately after coming out of the hospital for the (stem cell) transplant,” Holland said.
Sometime after that, LFO decided to attempt a reunion. Last year, it went on tour despite Cronin’s weakened condition.
“He was having trouble walking. … We let him have the whole back of the bus so he could rest all day long while Devin and I did press and sound check, and then we would get him up from the show. A couple of times we had to help him get onto the stage because he was having trouble walking,” Fischetti said.
However, Cronin was happy to be on tour again. “I don’t think he ever thought he’d be able to play another show. … It was emotional, seeing him up on that stage,” Fischetti said.
The last time he saw Cronin was summer 2009, during the reunion tour. He had sent him a text message a few days ago, suggesting they perform some shows around Christmas, but he didn’t respond.
“I was pretty surprised, because usually Rich would reply to something really quick,” Fischetti said. “I said to Devin, ‘Something doesn’t feel right.’”
Cronin wasn’t married and didn’t have children, but Fischetti said survivors include his parents, a brother and a sister.
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