Jay and the Americans
biography is a Trilogy
Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3
You Tell Her - Your Never Never Never Never Never Gonna Part
David Blatt • Marty Sanders • Sandy Deanne
Howie Kane • Kenny Vance
Meanwhile (back in the jungle ) The Americans were without a lead singer. While minus a lead, The Americans sang backup vocals on Bobby Goldsboro’s “See The Funny Little Clown” Marty Sanders who had been with the group off & on as a guitar/background vocalist (on salary for live gigs ) and who had also sung some backup on the “She Cried” album was now a full member of the group. This had happened when they were performing in Washington D.C. at the Rocket Room. Traynor was still singing lead & Danny Kessler ( their manager) had suggested it since he was making more than the rest of them as a paid musician. Marty was thrilled “til he figured out the math. Anyway he was with them at a rehearsal at Howie’s house when a bulb lit up over Howie’s head. Hey Marty he said, “what about that guy you sing with”. Who, Dave Blatt? Marty replied. He‘s married with a kid and he works full time selling shoes at Thom McCann, so I doubt if he’s interested, but I’ll call him anyway, ’cause ya never know.
So he called David Blatt his neighbor and singing buddy and tells him J & A’s are looking for a lead singer. You know they sing “She Cried”. Dave says, “I can sing that easily“. He was a really great mimic and sounded exactly like Traynor when he later did that song on stage. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Marty and Dave sang together in “The Two Chaps”. The Two Chaps. also had been signed to Ivy Records at the same time as The Harbor-lites, though they never crossed paths. They recorded “ Please Forgive Me “ on Atlantic label and later recorded with the Empires on Epic Records. One record only was released. Written by Marty & Dave called “Time And A Place”, with Dave singing lead b/w “Punch Your Nose” with Marty singing lead. This too was a short lived group.
Anyway, Dave skeptically drives from Brooklyn to Belle Harbor. Queens (The Rockaways ) for an audition at Sandy’s parents home. He pulls up with rope tying down the hood of his car, since the latch had been broken.
They are waiting in the basement to meet this guy that Marty says can really sing. When he gets there Sandy says “why don’t you sing something that you are comfortable with, that will show us how you sing. Marty plays one chord on his guitar and Dave sings “Cara Mia” acappella and blows all of them off their chairs. At the end of the song they are all laughing because they look at the staircase leading into the basement and its filled with Sandy’s parents and several neighbors who came running in to hear who was singing.
It was obvious that Dave wasn’t Dave anymore, he was Jay # 2. The first recording with the new Jay was “Only In America”, and the story behind it is fascinating.
Lieber & Stoller were having great success with their other acts (Drifters and Coasters) and the choice material was going to them. J & A’s felt they were getting leftovers and were quite unhappy. They were in L&S office one day and heard a master of the new Drifters’ record “Only In America” ( a Mann &Weil composition) playing. They immediately complained to them. How could you not give a song named Only In America to us. What would make more sense or be more natural than J & A’s singing a great song titled “Only In America”. Jerry Lieber looked them in the face, shrugged his shoulders and said” that’s the way it goes”. But timing is everything. At that moment, L&S received word from Atlantic Records that they would not release that record because firstly, it was outrageous for a black group to be singing about becoming President in those pre Civil Rights days and second, a bomb had blown up a church in Selma Alabama within weeks of this happening and three little girls had been killed. L&S had thought it would be a good social comment but Atlantic was firm about how they felt. L&S said they could get the song for J&A’s if they wanted it. They of course did and L&S called Atlantic and offered to purchase the master track for the cost of the session. Atlantic agreed and J&A”s went into the studio and overdubbed their voices in the key that it was recorded in for the Drifters. It was then sped up to get into a groove but to this day J&A’s claim they sound like the chipmunks on the record and perform it live a whole key down from that of the record. Many people think this is another song from West Side Story but unlike their recording of “Tonight” it is not. It is still a great record. Now with a hit from both Jays, the group was starting to perform live again. Only problem being, Dave was so nervous every time they would announce “Here they are Jay and The Americans”, he would be puking in the nearest men”s room. The guys took turns, wiping it off his boots and leading a shakey guy by the elbows onto the stage. Once there however he was worth the price of admission since Cara Mia was part of their live act.
Again J&A’s were being treated like redheaded stepchildren by L&S. They were so very busy with other acts that they turned to an outside producer Artie Ripp, then of Kama Sutra Productions (later to become Kama Sutra Records). The first record he did with the guys was “Come A Little Bit Closer”. Not bad for starters. Followed with “Lets Lock The Door” and “Think Of The Good Times“. This resulted in them going on the Beatles first American tour in 1964, which also included the Righteous Brothers, as well as playing with the Rolling Stones at Carnegie Hall. After three and a half years of singing Cara Mia in their live act, they finally recorded it after much arguing with the powers that be. That started a whole new phase for the group. ”Some Enchanted Evening” came next and the boys had solidified themselves as a group with longevity. The group was also the first to have a hit with a Neil Diamond song. ”Sunday & Me”. After “Sunday & Me” Dave cut a solo record for UA- “What Will My Mary Say”. He also cut a solo album but somehow the master tape was lost. Finally in 1969 the group formed its own production company (JATA) and took control of their own recording. The first album - “Sands Of Time” is a tribute to Alan Freed and all the songs J&A’s loved and listened to as youngsters. The album ends with Alan Freed’s last sign off of his radio show. It was truly the first rock revival album and was a labor of love. They felt this was their greatest effort. The resulting single “This Magic Moment” was their largest selling hit.
They said they were recording it white but feeling it soul. Two other singles from that album charted, “When You Dance” originally by the Turbans and “Hushabye” originally by The Mystics. The next and last album “Wax Museum” also remakes, had a hit originally by “The Ronettes”- “Walking In The Rain” .
Their last chart record was “Capture The Moment” 1970, and their last release was “There Goes My Baby” another Drifters remake. In 1974 the group disbanded.
To this day David still performs. Kenny has his own group, “ The Planotones” Marty still records and performs and is a successful songwriter, having written “Bad Reputation” with Joan Jett and “Words” with Sandy and F.R. David. Sandy directed “Beatlemania” on Broadway & in Los Angeles, became A&R Director of ABC Dunhill Records. He also owns a fashionable ladies clothing boutique with his wife. Howie is a well known and respected social worker and heads a drug & alcohol program. He is a consultant and speaker on these subjects. And that’s it...OR IS IT.
Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3