The Triology of JayandtheAmericans | Bios


Jay Reincke

Jay Reincke was born in Chicago, Illinois on April 6, 1954. Actually  John was his birth name but since his dad was also John Reincke, his parents, wanting to avoid confusion in the house, immediately nicknamed him Jay.  How prophetic . He began performing in theater groups in the Chicago area while in grade school. By the time high school rolled around, he was singing & playing the guitar. In college, Jay, a theater arts major, started a tribute band playing 50’s and 60’s music that quickly became a well known,  and popular part of the Chicago music scene. Their success was based greatly upon the strong vocals Jay sang so seemingly effortlessly. Favoring the music of his personal idols , such as Roy Orbison, Elvis, Gary Puckett, Gene Pitney, Johnny Maestro and of course his very favorite, Jay and the Americans. His band successfully played the Chicago scene for thiry years. 

And then it happened, it took him by surprise

One day in october of 2006, Jay got a phone call...A long distance call from new york. It was Sandy Yaguda ( an original member of his favorite band). Hi Jay, I've heard you like our music and I've also heard you sing it quite well.are you playing this weekend? Howie  (another member of  J & A ’s ) & I would like to hear you sing & we’d like to fly out & see you perform.

He was...they did...and the rest is butter!

Sandy Deanne                               Founding member Jay and The Americans

I had the good fortune to be born in Brooklyn  NY, 10  blocks from Ebbets Field (home of The Brooklyn Dodgers) at a time when the boys of summer were playing ball. It was a privilege, & they were my first Rock Stars. But then came the music….

Music started early for me. I was five, and my older sister was on the way to becoming  a professional singer. She was taken every day after school by my mom to the city, (NYC) for all kinds of singing and dancing lessons. I was dragged along  because there was no one to watch me. I loved every second of it. When we came home,  my sister would practice and I would practice with her. She stood me on top of the toilet seat and taught me to sing harmony  with her. That was it. I was hooked. She played all kinds of  records in the house. Bessie Smith, Mel Torme, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, The Pied Pipers featuring Frank Sinatra,, Lena Horne, The Four Freshmen , were all  played constantly Also a lot of blues, we both loved the blues. I soaked it up like a sponge.  My friends and I would go to an ice cream parlor on Flatbush  Ave and  we pumped quarters into the jukebox . Played  “Whispering Bells” by the Del Vikings over and over. Then we’d go outside and sing that song in a storefront with glass windows  to get the echo. I was now 13 ,and  we moved from Brooklyn to the suburbs. Belle Harbor in Queens.  Sadly I left my best friend Howie behind. We’d known each other since birth.  I made new friends of course but nothing  was as important as the music. I was into listening to the  radio and discovering my own taste . Buying records and playing guitar and singing and writing songs.  Sitting in the candy store cutting classes ,  I heard Dion & The Belmonts  singing “I Wonder Why”, and  I thought to myself,  I want to do that…  So I put my first group together. Far Rockaway High School. Five kids who had white dinner jackets, and weren’t tone deaf. The white jacket was the qualifier. Actually, three of us were talented. Sydelle, co-captain of the cheerleaders, who also played piano and sounded like Cyndi Lauper, was terrific. Kenny who could sing a  high or low harmony as good or better than anybody I’ve ever heard. And me, the guy who sang back up with Kenny to Sydelle’s lead vocals, and I  also wrote the songs. We recorded as The Harborlites. We actually got signed and had our records  played on the radio quite a bit locally. “Is That Too Much To Ask” was my favorite. Funny thing, but the guy who signed The Harborlites, passed on the guy who auditioned right before us. That guy went  across  the street to Columbia Records and got signed that day. His name was Johnny Mathis and the first album he released was “ Wonderful Wonderful.”...Ooopps.

That Harborlites record still sounds good, even after all these years,and , believe it or not, that group evolved into Jay and The Americans. Kenny and I, after playing some rock shows with other rock groups, wanted to feel more macho and emulate the other groups who were all male. Our manager, Jim Gribble, managed all of these boy groups, “The Mystics” were one of those  and Jay, the lead singer was  unhappy  with the way the guys were treating him. He joined Kenny and I, and I immediately called Howie to complete the  group. That was the beginning of  Jay and The Americans. We were smart enough or lucky enough to audition for Lieber & Stoller. They were the best and hottest song writers and record producers in the business. They.wrote for and recorded amongst others, The Drifters, who were our favorite group. Other than Elvis, who they wrote for, we were the first white act they signed and produced records for. They were brilliant and just being around them and the people who walked in and out  of their office was a college education in  rock music. From Burt Bacharach & Hal David to Carole King and Jerry Goffen,  Phil Spector The Coasters, Doc Pomus and Mort Schuman and on and on.

I remember sitting in the cafeteria at Hofstra College and hearing our first  big hit “She Cried” being announced as  # 3 on the top 10 charts. I promptly got up from the table, and dumped my text books into the trash and  broke my parents hearts. They had hopes of my  becoming a doctor. Later on with the success of the band they were proud of  us. I  was proud of  us too. Over the years,the name Jay and The Americans has not always been considered hip, but  I kind of think, its not so corny to be patriotic.

Sandy Yaguda  a/k/a Sandy Deanne      


Howie Kane                            Original Member of Jay and The Americans

They say opportunity doesn’t knock twice, but in this case it really does. At the young age of 17, I never expected, that I’d go from singing in my best friends basement in Rockaway, on a trip that still hasn’t ended.

Just as I was starting college, Our group Jay and The Americans was formed. Our music became a quick sensation and I was saved from entering the family funeral business as a mortician. ( a real life “Six Feet Under” )

Working with Jay and The Americans offered fast fame and some fortune. I sang, traveled the world, and enjoyed many successes with the group but unfortunately I left them to pursue other interests ( Really, I had to leave due to a severe drug and alcohol addiction )

Ironically, after sobering up and entering a 12 step program, I went back to college.  I have worked for nearly 20 years counseling adolescents and adults who suffered from similar addictions.

Married 16 years to my second wife, I have three children ( ages Justin 33 who lives in California, Sam age 15, and newly adopted Sarah who is 5 years old and has been dubbed the group’s mascot).

I retired last year feeling the need to stop taking care of others and start focusing on my own family.

Although I remained in touch with band buddies Jay Traynor, Kenny Vance, and Marty Kupersmith, it was the dream of my oldest and best friend Sandy Yaguda that we try to reunite and take our name back. Through the years, we periodically met, performed locally, and even sang all together at a reunion concert when we were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall Of Fame in 2002..

And then, as if someone heard our dreams, opportunity knocked once more when a situation presented itself and presto  we now have our name back, fair and square.

For me personally, the idea of working again with my best friends is not only exciting, but it’s a chance to share our hit records ( 12 top ten records ) and new music as well  with our oldest and newest fans..

Howie Kirshenbaum aka Howie Kane

Marty Sanders                              Original Member of Jay and The Americans

Being born in Brooklyn at a time when only AM radio existed, didn’t afford me many choices in the music I listened to, but the radio was always on & Mom played the piano & sang.. Dad, by his own admission was tone deaf.. I can remember harmonizing in my crib.. 

One day while searching the dial on the radio, I was held captive by the plaintive honesty of a guy singing a country song. His name was Hank Williams &  I became an instant fan, giving up my piano lessons for a pawn shop guitar (to my mom’s consternation). I became somewhat of an anachronism wandering around on my bike, guitar on my back committing attempted sideburns & looking for other like-minded kids or trying to make converts.

At about the same time, another form of music was being born out of the Black Race Music & kids my age were singing their versions on street corners, subways and hallways. Some were actually making records with local and sometimes national success. I  sang along with these kids & started a duo with my neighbor Dave and some other 4 & 5 piece groups.. Most sang acapella but with my guitar they had an added benefit so I was always welcomed.

Simultaneous to getting a record deal with Dave as the “Two Chaps”, there was another group “The Harborlites”, with Sandy, Kenny, & Sydelle signed to the same label, Ivy Records. We never crossed paths at that time but… that time John, Jay Traynor was filling in as a “Mystic”…

Howie K & I were friends and fellow college students & he was now singing with his old neighborhood buddy, Sandy along with Kenny and J. Traynor on leads. One day Howie invited me  (or I invited myself.. who remembers?) & my guitar to his folks apartment for a rehearsal with the as yet un-named group & I insinuated myself therein.. I had already gotten a songwriting contract with Hill & Range music. Hanging out with Tony Orlando, Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman. My young career seemed rosy, but war was looming on several fronts & I was in danger of being drafted. I got some sage advice from Barry Mann… join the reserves..6 months instead of 18 or more.So late spring of 1961 I joined. Basic training at Fort Dix then on to Colombia South Carolina (Ft Jackson). While down there I got a letter from Howie saying  he & the guys had been signed by our heros, Lieber & Stoller & given the name “ Jay & The Americans” and their first release was Tonight from West Side Story. I remember laughing out loud at the name but I also remember that he said I could rejoin them upon my release from the reserves. When I got out I started hanging out at the Brill Bldg pursuing songwriting and playing with J & A’s. Tonight wasn’t a hit but Lieber & Stoller didn’t give up & I wound up singing with them on their recording of  the She Cried Album though my picture isn’t on the jacket and I  have no name credit..

WE were doing local record hops and TV shows when we got word that a Baltimore DJ  Fat Daddy had broken She Cried. When he saw us at our first out of town gig at the Rocket Room in DC he said “I thought you guys were black”. It was at this time that I was asked to be a full partner in Jay & The Americans by their manager Danny Kessler. I was touched & honored until I discovered that I would be earning less money than as a hired hand! Of course with our continued success this became a non-issue……..

Marty Kupersmith  aka Marty Sanders