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Ersel Hickey, 70, songwriter, rockabilly singer in 1950s

NEW YORK -- Ersel Hickey, a rockabilly singer best known for ''Bluebirds Over The Mountain," has died at age 70, according to a longtime friend.

Mr. Hickey had been hospitalized at New York University Medical Center after surgery to have his bladder removed because of a tumor, according to Johnny Vallis, a friend and sometime publicist for the singer. He died after coming down with an infection, Vallis said.

Mr. Hickey, a native of Brighton, N.Y., started singing in his teens as a solo act and also with R&B groups.

His first record, released in the late 1950s, was ''Then I'll Be Happy/Baby You're No Good."

He is best known for his 1958 hit ''Bluebirds Over the Mountain," which he also co-wrote. It was rerecorded by The Beach Boys a decade later.

He also wrote songs for other artists including Jackie Wilson's ''The Millionaire" and LaVern Baker's ''A Little Bird Told Me So."

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