Jay Black (born David Blatt; 2 November 1938) is an American singer, also known as "The Voice," whose height of fame came in the 1960s when he was the lead singer of the band Jay and the Americans.
Black was born in New York and grew up in Brooklyn in the neighbourhood of Boro Park. He first recorded one single in 1958 for Atlantic Records with Marty "Sanders" Kuppersmith as The Two Chaps before joining the doo-wop group The Empires, (see photo) where he had sung lead on their 1962 lone Epic Records single "Time And A Place". He then became the second, and more widely-known Jay to lead the band Jay and the Americans, the first being Jay Traynor.
With Jay Traynor singing lead, Jay & The Americans first hit the Billboard charts in 1962 with the tune "She Cried," which reached #5 (later covered by The Shangri-Las, Aerosmith, and others). David Black (né Blatt) took his place (after first agreeing to adopt the name Jay Black), and Empires' guitarist Marty Sanders (né Kupersmith) also joined. Black sang lead for the rest of the group's major hits. They returned to the charts in 1963 with "Only In America," a song originally meant for The Drifters. Other notable hits for Jay and the Americans were "Come a Little Bit Closer" in 1964, which hit #3, and "Cara Mia" in 1965, which hit #4.
During the group's heyday, they made countless television appearances, on shows such as Shindig, Hullabaloo, Where The Action Is, Johnny Carson, Mike Douglas, Merv Griffin, Red Skelton, and Sammy Davis, Jr., and in 1966 were featured in the movie "Wild, Wild Winter" singing "Two of a Kind". Jay and the group were the opening act for The Beatles' first appearance in the United States, and they went on to open for The Rolling Stones and other top British acts. In spite of the British invasion, Jay and his boys carried the American flag almost single-handedly through the 1960's with 21 chart singles.
In 1968, they recorded an album of their favourite oldies called Sands of Time, which included "This Magic Moment," which was originally done by the Drifters. The single went to #9 in January 1969. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc by the R.I.A.A. in May 1969. "This Magic Moment" was the last top ten record for Jay and the Americans, although a follow-up album, Wax Museum, in January 1970, did yield the #19 hit single "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
The group split in 1973. All of the members moved on to solo musical careers, with the exception of Jay Black, who continued to perform as "Jay and the Americans." Black continued until the 1980s with a variety of musicians, at one point briefly including the young Walter Becker and Donald Fagen (of later Steely Dan fame) on backup bass guitar and electric organ. The original core group reunited in the 1990s for special performances, most notably the 45 Years of Motown special on PBS.
During the late 1970's casting director Renee Valenti saw Jay perform and, on a hunch, asked him to read for a TV movie she was casting called "Contract on Cherry Street", which starred Frank Sinatra in his only made-for-TV movie. Being a singer, Jay went up for the role cocky and not caring, and he began to change the entire dialog while reading. The casting director, producer and director were so impressed that Jay landed the role of a hit man over 2000 actors trying for the same role. The movie was premiered on NBC on November 19, 1977.
In 2006, Black completed bankruptcy proceedings in Manhattan, after he accrued a $500,000 debt in back taxes to the IRS as a result of his gambling addiction. The IRS initially sought to force him to sell the rights to perform as "Jay Black" as well as the trademark for "Jay and the Americans" in order to satisfy his debt to the IRS. Black did however win a partial victory in the case, which granted him the right to continue to use the name "Jay Black", but he was required to sell the rights to perform as "Jay and the Americans". The trademark to "Jay and the Americans" was sold by the bankruptcy trustee to Sandy Deanne (Yaguda), Black's former band mate and original member of Jay & The Americans for $100,000 to pay Black's debts.
With the name purchase, former members Deanne, Howard Kane, and Marty Sanders reunited, and recruited a sound-alike singer from Chicago, coincidentally nicknamed "Jay." Thus, John "Jay" Reincke became the third "Jay" and the band returned to playing both national and international music venues. Their show covers the history of Jay and The Americans, acknowledging all three Jays and featuring all of the top hits in their original arrangements. Jay Black can no longer perform as "Jay Black and the Americans" and now performs as "Jay Black and the Alley Cats".
In his later career, he has become known for touring New York State and Florida singing, mainly solo, and preceding his singing with a stand-up comedy routine.
(Info mainly edited from Wikipedia & wolfmanjak.com)
Jay Black performing a spot-on version of "Cara Mia" in 2011.