Gary: “I was coming home from the Golf Course and listening to The Sixties On 6, Sirius (satellite) Radio, and I heard a song that conjured up all kinds of interesting situations. First off, Jay Traynor left the group after their first significant success. Now he was replaced by David Black, who changed his name to Jay Black to fit in with the group.
I’m not finished; one of the founding members was Kenny Vance. I discovered him again in the Nineties and just love what he has done, and is doing. So let’s get on with —–
Jay & the Americans
Jay Traynor lead, later replaced by Jay (David) Black) November 2 1938
Sandy Yaguda, January 31, 1940
Kenny Vance, December 8, 1943
Marty Sanders, February 28, 1940
Howie Kane, 1940.
Hometown New York
1. She Cried/ United Art 415/ 4/7/62/ #5 Billboard
2. Come a little bit Closer/ United Art 759/ 10/3/64/ #3 Billboard
3. Let’s Lock the door (and throw away the key) / United Art 805/ 1/16/65/ #11 Billboard
4. Cara Mia/ United Art 881/ 6/19/65/ #4 Billboard
5. Some enchanted Evening/ United Art 919/ 9/25/65/ #13 Billboard
6. Sunday and Me/ United Art 948/ 12/4/65/ #18 Billboard
7. Crying/ United Art 50016/ 6/11/66/ #25 Billboard
8. This Magic Moment/ United Art 50475/ 1/25/69/ #6 Billboard
9. Walkin’ In the Rain/ United Art 50605/ 1/17/70/ #19 Billboard
Jay and the Americans were a pop music group popular in the 1960s. Their initial lineup consisted of Howard Kane (born Kirschenbaum), John (J.T.) Traynor, Kenny Vance (born Rosenberg), and Sandy Yaguda.
They were discovered while performing in student venues at New York University in the late 1950s. They auditioned for Leiber and Stoller, who gave the group its name.
They first hit the Billboard charts in 1962 with the tune “She Cried”; its highest charting was #5.
The next two singles didn’t fare nearly as well, and John Traynor left the group. David Black (né David Blatt) of The Empires took his place (after first agreeing to adopt the name Jay Black), and Empires guitarist Marty Sanders also joined. Black sang lead for the rest of the group’s existence.
They returned to the charts in 1963 with “Only In America”, a song originally meant for The Drifters. Other notable hits for the Americans were “Come a Little Bit Closer” in 1964, which hit #3, and “Cara Mia” in 1965, which hit #4.
The Americans also recorded a commercial for H.I.S. Slacks, and a public service announcement for the Ad Council, featuring a backing track by Brian Wilson and Phil Spector.
In 1968, they recorded an album of their favorite oldies remade fresh, called Sands of Time, and its single was “This Magic Moment”, which also came through the Drifters. This was the last Top Ten record for the Americans, although a follow-up album, Wax Museum, did yield the #19 hit “Walkin’ In The Rain”, first recorded by The Ronettes.
Their next singles failed to chart, and the band grew apart, but the demand for appearances remained. While the other members moved on to solo musical careers, Jay Black continued to perform as Jay and the Americans until the 1980s, with a variety of musicians, including Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, who would later found Steely Dan.
The group reunited in the 1990s for special performances, most notably the 45 Years of Motown special on PBS.
As of 2006, Black and his current band continue to tour as “Jay Black and the Americans.”(lastfm)
Now I discovered Kenny Vance by accident. One of my favourite songs is “For your Precious Love” by Jerry Butler and the Impressions, via 1958. I was listening to a version by “Kenny Vance & The Planotones” and my wife, who just listens to background music, said “That’s a beautiful version of that Song”.
Now my wife does not listen closely; a station could have static on it, but she would not notice; it’s just background. But she loved this version, so since then I have more music by Kenny Vance and the Planotones, own the Movie “Looking for an Echo“, his voice, his music.
The man has a very impressive resume and I did not know that he supplied the “get up and go” to one of my favourite movies “American Hot Wax“.
So here is a little bit about a man, I will probably never get to see perform, because he mainly stays in the New York area, but if my wife “Birgit”, likes him, he really has to be something special. Here is a little on —–
2. Looking for an Echo/ Kenny Vance and the Planotones
3. Hushabye/ Kenny Vance and the Planotones
4. I’m so Happy/ Kenny Vance and the Planotones
Now, here is Kenny Vance with Frankie Lymon’s Original Teenagers in a parking lot singing acapella I’m so Happy:
5 Those Oldies But Goodies/ Kenny Vance and the Planotones
6. I only have eyes for You/ Kenny Vance and the Planotones
As Jay and the Americans wound down in the early 1970s, Kenny Vance went into doing recording session work, singing background vocals on such albums as Yusef Lateef’s Part of the Search (1971), Don McLean’s Homeless Brother (1974), and David Forman’s David Forman (1976). He also began producing, handling the board for albums by Toni Basil, Danny O’Keefe (American Roulette, 1977), and Diane Keaton.
In 1975, he released his debut solo album, Vance 32, on Atlantic Records.
Then in 1978 Vance launched a new phase in his career with the release of the film American Hot Wax, which depicted events in the life of rock ‘n’ roll radio pioneer Alan Freed.
Vance wrote “Hot Wax Theme” for the score; he appeared in the movie as Professor La Plano and led his fictional group, The Planotones, in a performance of “Rock and Roll Is Here to Stay.”
He also produced the soundtrack album, which made the Top 40. Within months, he was represented again in movie theaters with National Lampoon’s Animal House, producing the soundtrack album, which also made the charts.
The twin successes of American Hot Wax and National Lampoon’s Animal House gave Vance a continuing career in the movies, both as a composer, musical director, soundtrack producer, and as a character actor.
He went on to contribute to the music for The Warriors (1979), The Hollywood Knights (1980), Eddie and the Cruisers (1983), which produced a triple-platinum soundtrack album, Streets of Fire (1984), Ishtar (1987), Hairspray (1988), Eddie and the Cruisers II: Eddie Lives! (1989), Heart of Dixie (1989), Cobra (1992), Hard Promises (1992), Into My Heart (1998), Sunburn (1999), The Story of a Bad Boy (1999), and Pinero (2002).
He also worked on several television movies and was the musical director of Saturday Night Live in 1980-81. As an actor, he had bit parts in Eddie and the Cruisers, Billy Bathgate (1991), and Hurly Burly (1998), and he became a particular favorite of director Woody Allen, joining Allen’s informal stock company and appearing in Manhattan (1979), Stardust Memories (1980), Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989), Husbands and Wives (1992), Everyone Says I Love You (1996), and Deconstructing Harry (1997).
Vance is credited as “mentor” on Peter Himmelman’s 1987 album Gematria, and his friendship with Himmelman led to the long overdue to follow-up to Vance 32, Vance’s second solo album Short Vacation, released on Gold Castle Records in 1988; Himmelman served as the album’s producer.
In 1992, Vance re-formed The Planotones, his fictional group from American Hot Wax, as a real group to sing the doo wop music he loved. The group consisted of other music business veterans with similar taste: Murray Weinstock (formerly of the Fifth Avenue Band); songwriter Garry Bonner (co-author of the Turtles hit “Happy Together“), who joined in 1994; Angel Rissoff; and Johnny Gale. The group’s first album, Teenage Jazz, was released in 1994. The 32 Jazz label issued a second Vance & The Planotones album, Looking for an Echo, in May 1996.
In 1999, Looking for an Echo was the title of a film for which Vance served as musical director and which spawned a soundtrack album released in November 2000 consisting entirely of Kenny Vance & the Planotones performances.
In October 2001 Varèse Sarabande Records released Out of This World: Live at the Bitter End, followed in August 2002 by Kenny Vance & the Planotones on Collectables Records.
A new studio album, Lovers Island, was released in October 2005, and included interpretations of such standards as “Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool,” and “Stormy Weather.”
The next Kenny Vance & The Planotones album was Countdown to Love, released in October 2007.
In January 2008, the group released its first DVD, Live, through Alpha Video. ~ William Ruhlmann