Steve Kramer, left, with playwright Kevin Kling, wrote and performed a show called "Of Mirth and Mischief" at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul in 2011. Photo by Tom Wallace

Steve Kramer, who fronted the beloved 1980s Twin Cities band the Wallets, died in his sleep while attending the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. He was 59.

Kramer, who went on to form an advertising agency with the band's manager, Bob Hest, and wrote commercial music for clients including Target, was reportedly in good health. An autopsy is pending.

The Wallets, whose other members were Jim Clifford, Max Ray, Rod Gordon and Erik Anderson, developed a loyal following in the mid-1980s with quirky songs like their biggest hit "Totally Nude," mixing new-wave sound with polka and synth rock.

Kramer was working on "The Best Summer Ever," a new musical for the Children's Theater. with playwright/storyteller Kevin Kling, with whom he had previously collaborated on the 2011 stage show "Of Mirth and Mischief."

"It’s a serious loss for everyone,” Hest said in a statement. “Steve always took care of himself and was very health conscious, especially of late. He was diligently doing Bikram Yoga, or Hot Yoga, and he was really looking forward to completing the new show with Kevin Kling at Children’s. In many ways, he had come full circle going back to writing songs for the stage and capturing it all splendidly after years of penning 30-second pieces and capturing it all splendidly in that setting as well."

"This is very hard for all of us in the family and for Cathy Young, his longtime partner of 30 years," said his sister Phyllis Dozier ."They were finally planning to get married officially."
Kramer is survived by Young, stepdaughter Bobbie Young, Dozier, other siblings Jennifer Kramer and Jean Kramer-Johnson, parents Margaret Shryer and stepfather Davis Shryer, and nephews Jonathan and Cutler Dozier, all of Minneapolis.
A memorial service celebrating Kramer’s life will be held 6 p.m. Sunday at Lake Harriet United Methodist Church, 4901 S. Chowen Av., Minneapolis.
See  a story on Kramer and Kling's previous collaboration here: