'Girls Just Wanna Have Fun' Songwriter Robert Hazard Dies at 59

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Robert Hazard, a songwriter and musician from Philadelphia who wrote the 1983 Cyndi Lauper hit "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun," has died. He was 59.

Hazard died Tuesday after a brief illness, his record label, Rykodisc, said in a statement.

Hazard's wife, Susan, told The Philadelphia Inquirer her husband died unexpectedly after surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

Hazard, born Robert Rimato, led the band Robert Hazard and the Heroes, a fixture in Philadelphia clubs through the mid-1980s. In his 1983 autobiography, he wrote that he got his big break in 1982 when music journalist Kurt Loder, who was in town to review a Rolling Stones concert, happened to stop into a bar where he was performing.

"I stayed up talking with him till 5 o'clock in the morning. The next month, there was a two-page spread in Rolling Stone magazine, pictures and all, raving about the band. Soon after that, we were signed to RCA Records," Hazard wrote.

His song "Escalator of Life" became a hit soon after.

Recently, he has played country music with a band called The Hombres. His latest album, "Troubadour," was released in October.

"Robert had the unique gift of portraying individual moments in life through vivid lyrical imagery," Ruby Marchand, head of A&R at Rykodisc, said in a statement. "His songwriting was timeless and eloquent. As a vocalist, the nuances he brought to his performances were unforgettable."

In recent years, Hazard and his wife ran an antique shop near their home in Old Forge, N.Y.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by a daughter from his first marriage, Corrina, and teenage sons Rex and Remy.

Plans for memorial services were incomplete Wednesday.