Van Allen Clinton McCoy was from Washington, D.C., and was born in 1940, according to his website. He played the piano and his older brother, Norman Jr., played the violin. Singing and playing music was all part of his growing years with family and friends in D.C. and South Carolina. They sang in school and church. When Van was taught how music had its own language, he found he enjoyed writing songs.

Music helped Van fit in with classmates through high school and in to college. He was also a very good student.

The Starliters were formed by Van -- who wrote many of their songs -- his brother and some classmates. The group would appear in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and Apollo in New York. Singer of the group Sweethearts of Rhythm, Vi Burnsides, took The Starliters on tour.

When The Starliters disband because of marriages, college and the military draft, Van went on to Howard University. He was unable to join due to a skin condition. Van eventually moved to New York to further his music career.

He would write songs and many hits for Chad and Jeremy, Barbara Lewis and Ruby & The Romantics. Van was also part of Peaches and Herb at the start. He continued to write songs for many artists such as Aretha Franklin, Tom Jones, Nat Cole and more.

He appeared many times on The Tonight Show and The Mike Douglas Show. Van also formed the Soul City Symphony. In 1975, he recorded the album "Disco Baby" and it was nominated for a Grammy. His Gold single, "The Hustle" was a Grammy winner. From there Van went on tour and his life was never able to slow down after that.

Van McCoy died of heart failure in 1979 at 39.

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