Vaughn Meader, who gained fame satirizing the presidency of John F. Kennedy in the multimillion-selling album “The First Family,” died October 29 in Auburn, Maine. He was 68.
Meader had been battling chronic emphysema and other ailments.
When it came out in late 1962, poking gentle fun at JFK’s wealth, large family and “vigah,” “The First Family” became the fastest-selling record of its time, racking up 7.5 million copies and winning the Grammy for album of the year.
Compared with today’s bare-knuckled political humor, the satire was tame, but it tickled the funnybone of the Kennedy-obsessed public.
The Maine native, recruited to play the president on the album after he began throwing Kennedy impressions into his musical act, had to tweak his own New England accent only slightly to sound just like the Massachusetts-bred president.
Even the president was said to be amused, picking up 100 copies of the album to give as Christmas gifts. He once opened a Democratic National Committee dinner by telling delegates: “Vaughn Meader was busy tonight, so I came myself.”
Meader’s career was stopped short by news that Kennedy had been assassinated. It was also that day that Vaughn Meader died, he would say. He began going by his birth name, Abbott.
Meader turned to bluegrass and country music, and became known for his honky-tonk performances in bars in Maine.