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Saturday, Nov 17, 2018
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Local musician Karen Deal dead at 57

TAMPA - Local musician Karen Deal, wife of Jefferson Airplane singer Marty Balin and daughter of former WFLA newscaster Arch Deal, has died. She was 57. Joey Donovan, a longtime friend and Deal's band mate in The Mod Squad, said Deal died about 2:15 a.m. Friday after an illness. Deal's mother, Margaret Lane of Hickory, N.C., is a church organist.
"Karen must have gotten her musical talent from her mother," Arch Deal said. Deal said his daughter learned the classics but was able to play by ear as well. "Music was everything to her," he said. "She loved her keyboards." A 1971 graduate of Tampa Catholic High School, Deal was playing keyboards with local entertainer Johnny Charro's band when she and Donovan met in the mid-1970s. "That was my first experience with her, buying PA equipment from me," said Donovan, who was working at Paragon Music and now runs Donovan Audio. The pair became friends and in 1987 formed The Mod Squad, a trio specializing in '60s material, with drummer-singer Rodger Stephan. The group was a regular at Selena's in Old Hyde Park Village, and also scored opening slots for acts such as Spirit, Savoy Brown and Balin. Balin and Deal became romantically involved and eventually married. "He took her off to California," Donovan said, although the couple split time between Marin County and Carrollwood. The Mod Squad gigged sporadically until the mid-1990s. The trio reunited for a show at Skipper's Smokehouse in October. "It was phenomenal," Donovan said. "She was half the band, playing bass parts with one hand and keyboard parts with the other." Deal is survived by Balin; her daughter, Delaney; her father and mother; two sisters, Diane and Shari; a brother, Doug; and a half-sister, Michelle. A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Tuesday at Blount & Curry Funeral Home, Carrollwood Chapel, 3207 W. Bearss Ave. The family will receive visitors an hour before the service.
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