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USA: Craig Vinton, entrepreneur, 65, dies; Electric car & solar energy enthusiast who popularized lip-sync in Seattle

Mr. Vinton was featured in three West Seattle Herald stories

By Steve Shay
West Seattle resident Craig Vinton, 65, died suddenly of heart complications Aug. 1. The West Seattle Herald wrote three articles about Mr. Vinton, focusing on his knowledge and fascination of electric cars, and his entrepreneurial spirit. Many of us saw J.P. Patches ride in Vinton’s electric roadster, the one pictured above, in the 2009 parade. He operated AllStar Entertainment! and pioneered lip sync and DK Karaoke in Seattle.

Craig was preceded in death by sisters Jean and Rebecca. He is survived by sisters Jan and Heather.

The West Herald was saddened to learn of his passing, and offer our condolences to his family and friends. While his heart was aided by a lithium-powered pacemaker, it was the power of his big heart that those close to him seemed to admire most about him. We asked a few to share their thoughts about him for this article. Each was humbled to do so and insisted he had numerous other friends who were also very close to him, and who he also influenced positively.
Norm Smith, Torrance, CA.

“Life is what happens when you are waiting for it to start but Craig did not wait,” said Norm Smith, a WSHS Class of ’68 grad who is a retired aerospace salesman. He described Vinton as a “magnanimous, generous caring person.”

“Craig jumped in with both hands and both feet, sometimes to extremes,” Smith said. “He and I were friends, part of a clique. We all hung out at Alki.

“I tend to graduate toward those people who are the nucleus of a number of circles of friends,” Smith added. “Craig was famous for throwing big parties at the West Seattle VFW Hall, and 50 or 100 people would show up. There’d be 10 different groups of people, and ‘never the twain shall meet’, you know? Some were the entertainers. We had nothing in common, but there were enough old school friends there and we could gather. Craig was kind of the nucleus, the binding force of the different groups.

“He was kind of like Mr. West Seattle.” said Smith. “He put on talent shows in Lincoln Park, at the West Seattle Street Fair, and have floats in the parade. Some of them were held together with tape and spit. His knowledge was so broad on so many topics, music, entertainment, plumbing. On a practical note, I urge people to have emergency contact information in their wallet, on their frig, and cell phone because when Craig died it took a while before we all knew what was going on.”

Sandra Dee, friend & entertainment business owner

“Craig was my mentor, and a father figure to me,” said Sandra Dee of Woodenville, owner of Positive Promotions, a Kirkland-based entertainment company. She began her career working for him. He lent me $5000 to start when I was only 24.

“Craig brought lip-sync to Seattle,” she said. “He lip-synched on the TV show ‘Puttin’ on the Hits’ in the ’80’s, then brought lip sync contests to Seattle hotels, bars, and parties. it was huge. He also introduced the DK Karaoke System at a Seattle Center event. it wasn’t in the bars yet.”

She revealed that he preferred lip sync to karaoke because “the music was better since you would hear the actual stars sing.”

“I had a passion for entertainment and so did he,” she said. “He taught me the trade. My entertainment company books musicians, recognizes talent, and helps artists achieve their dreams. I think Craig and I were kindred spirits in that way because he helped me achieve my dream.”


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