John "Jay" Traynor (March 30, 1943 – January 2, 2014) was an American singer.
Traynor was a star-struck youth who wanted to break into the music business the first time he saw a rock & roll group perform at his high school when he was 15. It took a little bit of time, but his dream started coming together in an inauspicious way when he took up singing in the subway with a group of like-minded pals who called themselves the Ab Tones. Mickey & Sylvia, who ran a production company and had already made a name for themselves with the single "Love Is Strange" in 1957, expressed interest in the fledgling singers, but a recording deal never materialized. Traynor dropped out of the Ab Tones.
After settling in Brooklyn, Traynor lucked into his first professional gig sometime during the late '50s. The Mystics' lead vocalist had quit, and Traynor won the spot not only on the strength of his voice, but also because he could fit into the lead singer's costume. Traynor was the third lead vocalist of the Mystics, singing falsetto on "The White Cliffs of Dover", and lead on "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" and "Blue Star".
He was riding high, enjoying his first professional bus tour along the East Coast, which was orchestrated by the influential Alan Freed, until a misunderstanding put the breaks on his career. The Mystics' manager fired Traynor after he caught the singer going through his desk. Traynor contended that he was looking for a publicity photo of the group to pass along to a friend, but the manager fired him anyway.
Traynor didn't stay down long. He soon got an invitation from Sandy Yaguda, who was putting a group together in New York with help from Kenny Rosenberg. Traynor became part of the Harbor Lites, which later evolved into Jay & the Americans. Traynor sang lead on the group's first hit, "She Cried," which was followed up by the album She Cried. All recordings were produced by Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller, who produced numerous artists and wrote many hits for Elvis Presley, the Drifters, the Coasters, and many more.
Traynor left the Americans, releasing solo records, including "I Rise, I Fall" on the Coral label in 1964. His name on the label was denoted as "JAY ... formerly of Jay & the Americans". Later in the 1960s, he released "Up & Over", produced by Dennis Lambert for Don Costa Productions. The song became a big hit with the UK "Northern Soul" underground dance clubs.
Traynor was replaced in the Americans by David Blatt, who agreed to perform under the stage name Jay Black. After working for Woodstock Ventures, the company that put on the "Woodstock" festival, Traynor began a career working behind the scenes with such 1970s acts as Mountain, West, Bruce & Laing, The Who, Ten Years After, Yes, and gospel singer Mylon LeFevre.
In 1977, Traynor moved to Albany, New York, near his roots in Greenville and worked at WNYT as a studio camera operator. He then performed with cover bands (George and "Friends"), jazz trios, and finally as the singer with the Joey Thomas Big Band, where his love for Frank Sinatra's music began. The Big Band put out a few CDs with Traynor, including Live On WAMC & The Sinatra Show. In 2006, Traynor received a call from Jay Siegel, and he toured with Jay Siegel's Tokens for the remainder of his life.
Traynor died of liver cancer at a hospital in Tampa, Florida on January 2, 2014; he was 70 years old. (Info edited from All Music & Wikipedia)