Thursday, 30 August 2018

Kitty Wells born 30 August 1919

Ellen Muriel Deason (August 30, 1919 – July 16, 2012), known professionally as Kitty Wells, was an American pioneering female country music singer. One of the few country stars born in Nashville, Kitty Wells had a string of hits from the '50s to the early '70s that earned her the title Queen of Country Music.

There had been female singers in country music before – the indefatigably yodelling Patsy Montana; Molly O'Day, all gingham and tears; the regal Sara Carter – but they always required the presence of male protectors: singing husbands or an all-male backing band. In the 1940s and 50s, with the rise of such charismatic performers as Hank Williams and Johnny Cash, country music came to seem more and more like men's business. Wells changed all that with a single song, It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels (1952).

The road to that hit had been a long one. Born Ellen Muriel Deason in Nashville, Tennessee, she left school in her teens, in the Depression-hit early 30s, and took a job ironing shirts. She came from a musical family, had learned to sing and play guitar, and got some experience of performing on radio in a family quartet. In 
1937 she married Johnnie Wright and sang with him and his sister. A couple of years later, Wright and Jack Anglin formed a duet act, Johnnie & Jack, and she toured with them in the then conventional role of the "girl singer". Up to that point she had been using her birth name, but Wright conferred on her the more resonant Kitty Wells, a name drawn from an old song.

After the Second World War, Johnnie, Jack and Kitty secured a place in the cast of the Louisiana Hayride, which at that time was second only to the Grand Ole Opry as a shop window of country music talent. In 1952, after Johnnie & Jack's hit recording Poison Love, the Opry stage was theirs too.

The Louisiana Hayride helped Johnnie & Jack land a record contract with RCA Records in 1949. That same year, Wells recorded some gospel tracks -- featuring Johnnie & Jack as instrumental support -- for RCA, but they were unsuccessful. Following those recordings, Wells was more or less retired for the next few years. 


In 1952, Paul Cohen, an executive at Decca Records, approached Wells to record "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels." Wells recorded the song and it became a smash hit, reaching number one in the summer and staying in that position for six weeks. It was set to the melody of both a tender old country song of
 separated lovers, I'm Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes, and – 
even more incongruously – Roy Acuff's scriptural hit of the 30s, The Great Speckled Bird.  Later in 1952, she joined the Grand Ole Opry.

Wells issued another communiqué from the dark side of town, Paying for That Back Street Affair; sang duets with Red Foley such as One By One and As Long As I Live; and had further hits with Making Believe, I Can't Stop Loving You, Mommy for a Day and Heartbreak USA – songs that skilfully evoked both the lure of sin and the comfort of repentance. "On Wells's records," wrote the country-music historian Mary Bufwack, "sorrowful men and women acted out their emotional dramas through her plaintive vocals accompanied by a crying steel guitar."

By the end of the 50s, Wells had had more than 30 top 10 records in the Billboard country charts, and was billed as the "Queen of Country Music". Decca so valued her that they signed her to a lifetime contract, though after Will Your Lawyer Talk to God (1962) she was less of a presence in the country charts. But this mattered little to the female fans that she had gathered over the past decade: they turned up at her engagements, watched her syndicated TV programme and bought her book of favourite songs and recipes. Unlike some women in country music – and indeed unlike the heroines of many of her songs – she dressed conservatively and had a sober and scandal-
free life.

In 1976, Wells was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, and with good reason. Kitty Wells broke down the doors for female country singers, paving the way for artists like Patsy Cline, Tammy Wynette, and Loretta Lynn. During the '80s, her activity slowed -- in addition to running a museum outside of Nashville, she toured with her husband, Johnnie, and frequently appeared on the Grand Ole Opry. In 1991, she was given a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Grammys. In July 2012 she died at home in Madison, Tennessee, from complications of a stroke; Kitty Wells was 92 years old.

 (Compiled and edited from All Music & The Guardian)

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Charlie Parker born 29 August 1920

Charles Parker Jr. (August 29, 1920 – March 12, 1955), also known as Yardbird and Bird, was an American jazz saxophonist and composer.

At age eleven, he had just begun to play the saxophone. At age twenty he was leading a revolution in modern jazz music. At thirty-four, he was dead from years of drug and alcohol use. Today, Charlie "Yardbird" Parker is considered one of the great musical innovators of the 20th century. 
A father of bebop, he influenced generations of musicians, and sparked the fire of one of the most important and successful American artistic movements.

Born in 1920 in Kansas City, Kansas, Charlie Parker grew up just across the river in Kansas City, Missouri. By age twelve he was playing in the high school marching band and in local dance hall combos. It was then that he first heard the new sounds of jazz. Hanging around the Kansas City clubs, the young Parker went to hear every new musician to pass through. Some of his earliest idols were Jimmy Dorsey, Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Ben Webster, and Louis Armstrong.

As a teenager he married his childhood sweetheart, Rebecca Parker Davis. Living in Kansas City, they had a child, but as Kansas City declined as a center for jazz, Parker longed to leave his hometown for New York. So, just around age twenty, Parker sold his horn, left his family, and hopped on a train to New York, where he was destined to change the face of American music forever.

In New York, Parker had difficulty finding work at first, but playing with Jay McShann’s band he began to develop his fiercely original solo style. Within a short while he was the talk of the town and Dizzy Gillespie and other members of the Earl Hines band convinced Hines to hire him. Gillespie and Parker became close friends and collaborators. Of the time Gillespie recalled, "New York is the place, and both of us blossomed." Leaving Hines, the two moved on to Billy Eckstine’s band, where they were able to expand their range of experimentation.

The seeds of modern jazz, or "bebop," as the new style came to be called, were also being sown by now legendary pianists Thelonious Monk and Bud Powell, drummers Kenny Clark and Max Roach, and trumpeter Miles Davis. All were frequent Parker collaborators on recordings and in the lively 52nd Street clubs that were the jazz center of the mid-1940s. Beyond his amazing technical capacity, Parker was able to invent a more complex and individual music by disregarding the four- and eight-bar standards of jazz and creating solos that were both fluid and harsh.

Though the experiments of jazz were being heard worldwide, in the United States much of the popular media ignored the music and concentrated on the culture -- the berets, horn-rimmed glasses, goatees, and language that characterized the bebop style. Jazz critic

Leonard Feather noted, "There was no serious attention paid to Charlie Parker as a great creative musician ... in any of the media. It was just horrifying how really miserably he was treated. And this goes for the way Dizzy Gillespie was treated -- and everybody." Due in part to dissatisfaction with the amount of critical attention he was receiving and in part to his years of on and off drug use, Parker slipped into serious addiction. On a two-year tour of California, his drinking and drug addiction worsened, and for six months he was in a Los Angeles rehabilitation center.


It was not until his tour of Europe that Parker began to receive the attention he deserved. Visiting Paris in 1949, Parker was greeted with an almost cult status. His European trips also encouraged him to expand his musical arrangements, including backing strings for both touring and recording. 
However, as continuing personal and creative pressures mounted, he went into a tailspin: drinking, behaving erratically, and even being banned from "Birdland," the legendary 52nd Street club named in his honor. Throughout this time, however, one thing remained intact -- Parker’s playing continued to exhibit the same technical genius and emotional investment that had made him great.

In 1954, while working again in California, Parker learned of the death of his two-year-old daughter, and went into further decline. He separated from his then common-law wife, Chan Parker, and was reduced to playing in dives. The cheap red wine he had become addicted to was exacerbating his stomach ulcers, and he even once attempted suicide. 

On March 9, 1955, while visiting his friend, the "jazz baroness" Nica de Koenigswarter, Charlie Parker died. The coroner cited pneumonia as the cause, and estimated Parker’s age at fifty-five or sixty. He was only thirty-four. Though Parker was a titan among jazz musicians of the time, it would take the country at large years to learn that for a short while in the 1940s and 1950s one of the most profoundly original American musicians had walked among them virtually unrecognized. (edited from

Here's Charlie Parker alto sax and Coleman Hawkins tenor sax (date 1950) with: Hank Jones - Piano, Ray Brown - Double bass, Buddy Rich - Drums with an improvisation  of "Ballade.".

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Honey Lantree born 28 August 1943

Anne Margot Lantree (born 28 August 1943, Hayes, Middlesex, England) was a drummer and singer with The Honeycombs. She was one of the only female drummers to come out of the British invasion of the early 1960s.

Anne Margot Lantree, better known as Honey Lantree, was notable as one of the few female drummers to come out of the British Invasion. Additionally, as a member -- and eventually the featured member -- of the Honeycombs, she was probably the best known woman drummer in rock & roll of the 1960s, at least in England. Lantree was not just a visual novelty; she actually could play well, and wasn't a bad singer when called upon in that capacity. The fact that she looked great also helped the band's fortunes immeasurably, and her visual attributes were no accident, either.

She was working in a London hair salon managed by Martin Murray when the latter decided in 1963 to form a rock & roll group. She had played the drums and took to that spot in the band naturally, and her presence gave them a visual edge over almost all of the competition -- with her then-fashionable beehive hairdo, she was an asset to any photo of the band and looked great behind the kit, and the fact that she could play completed the picture. The Honeycombs, as they were later christened -- which only further enhanced the attention paid to Lantree -- were signed up professionally coming out of the three-night-a-week gig at an East End pub, by songwriter/managers Ken Howard and Alan Blaikley, and they hit the number one spot in early 1964 with "Have I the Right," produced by the renowned Joe Meek.


With an international hit to their credit, Lantree became the most well-known female drummer in the world from the tours, and the film and television appearances that followed. 
She also proved her worth as a singer by sharing the lead vocal spot on one of their follow-up hits, "That's the Way"; their second album, All Systems Go, offered her singing a soulful pop ballad, "Something I Got to Tell You," that only confirmed her talents in this area.

No document of their live sound has emerged, but to have been heard amid the inevitable waves of screams that teenagers generated at concerts in those days, Lantree's playing must have been immensely powerful. A little later in the group's history, their managers decided to move Lantree into centre stage, with Pretty Things alumnus Viv Prince taking over the drumming on tour. Her fortunes declined with those of the group, which lost most of its audience after 1965 as music moved on and popular styles changed, and ended up playing in cabaret during their final phase. 
Honey Lantree and the Honeycombs seemed quaintly archaic by 1967, when they split up following Meek's suicide early that year.

Lantree was, by some accounts, one of the inspirations for a young Karen Carpenter to take up the drums, but that was as far as her influence seemingly went. The only other female drummer that anyone remembers from this period, Maureen Tucker of the Velvet Underground, was far better known in underground circles during the late '60s and 1970s, and Lantree wasn't much more than a footnote in what music histories there were. But a revival of interest in the British Invasion in the early '80s led to a rediscovery of the Honeycombs' music and to her discovery by a new generation of young listeners.

Women drummers in all-female bands, such as the Runaways, are a separate matter, but at least one mixed-gender New York band of the early '80s, the Tryfles, seemed to have been inspired by Lantree in their configuration. Their drummer was Ellen O'Neil, whose traditional good looks (balanced by the more stylized appeal of the one other female member of the quartet, guitarist Lesya Karpilov) helped dress up the visual presence of a band that was, by equal parts, otherwise inspired by the Byrds and the Shadows of Knight.
In the 1990s founding member Martin Murray toured the cabaret circuit with a group called 'Martin Murray's Honeycombs' Another line-up including Honey Lantree, Peter Pye and Denis D'Ell also successfully toured from 1991 onwards. John Lantree later rejoined this line-up. In 1999 record producer Russell C. Brennan asked D'Ell, Honey and John Lantree and Pye to record "Live and Let Die", on the Future Legend Records compilation, Cult Themes from the '70s Vol. 2.

Since then, and with the help of various CD reissues of the Honeycombs' work, Lantree has finally gotten her due as a trailblazer in music. She has not participated in work by the revived versions of the Honeycombs.

Honey has been involved with the Joe Meek Appreciation Society and did an interview in 2008 for the film made about Meek. 

(Info mainly from All Music)

Honey Lantree (Anne Margot Lantree), drummer; born 28 August 1943; died 23 December 2018. 
Honey Lantree, who has died aged 75, was that rare thing in a 1960s beat group – a woman. As the drummer of the Honeycombs, who had a No 1 UK hit with Have I the Right in 1964, she disliked being dismissed as “a gimmick”, nor did she buy into the idea of being a pioneer. She just happened to be good on the drums, and that’s the way it was. (The Guardian) 

Monday, 27 August 2018

Juliette Cavazzi born 27 August 1926

Juliette Augustina Cavazzi, CM (née Sysak; 27 August 1926 – 26 October 2017), ,was a Canadian singer and television host.

With her folksy pop style and easy rapport with an audience, big band and country singer Juliette made her CBC Saturday night music variety program Juliette (1956–66) one of Canada’s most popular television shows. Known as “our pet Juliette,” she was the country's most successful television entertainer for more than a decade. She was a Member of the Order of Canada, the BC Entertainment Hall of Fame and Canada’s Walk of Fame. Her sister Suzanne, also known only by her first name as a vocalist, is also a member of the BC Entertainment Hall of Fame.

Juliette Sysak was born in suburban Winnipeg to Polish-Ukrainian 
parents. She sang at the local Ukrainian hall and won a number of amateur singing contests before her family moved to Vancouver when she was 10. After singing at the Kitsilano Showboat, she began performing with Dal Richards's orchestra at the Hotel Vancouver at age 13, under the stage name Juliette. At 15, she made her CBC network debut on George Calangis's radio program Sophisticated Strings.

After spending 1943–44 in Toronto, where she appeared on Alan Young's CBC Radio show and with Lucio Agostini's orchestra, she returned to Vancouver and sang on many other CBC Radio programs, including Burns Chuckwagon (a country music show with the Rhythm Pals), and Here's Juliette. She also appeared at Theatre Under the Stars.]

She married musician Tony Cavazzi, who became her manager, and in 1954 the two moved to Toronto, where she co-starred with Gino Silvi on CBC Radio's Gino and Juliette. She was also a featured guest on CBC TV’s Holiday Ranch and a regular performer — introduced as “our pet Juliette” — on Billy O'Connor's The Late Show (1954–56). In 1954 she was approached by American big-band leader Harry James to be his singer for a gig at the Hollywood Palladium. James was a star — Frank Sinatra was one of his old singers. But she turned him down.

In 1956, Juliette became host of the long-running Saturday night music variety program, Juliette (1956–66), succeeding O’Connor’s Late Show on CBC TV. It was one of the broadcaster’s most popular shows of the day, regularly ranking behind only Hockey Night in Canada and the national news in viewership. As the program followed Hockey Night in Canada, it was often shortened or extended depending on when the hockey game ended, adding an extra layer of spontaneity to the live show. The wholesome, conservative program took place on a living room set and featured Juliette beginning each episode with “Hi there, everybody” and ending it with “Goodnight, Mom.”

           Here's "Matchmaker" from her 1968 album "Juliette"


Despite her popularity with the public, Juliette generally received little love from critics, who typically dismissed her as bland. The ​Globe and Mail’s television critic, Dennis Braithwaite, wrote in 1965 that her show exhibited “an unexciting format, uninspired production, bad writing, unglamorous costuming and a drab image of wholesomeness.” Her show was still ranked in the Top 10 when it fell prey to a new CBC ratings system and was cancelled in 1966.

After appearing in a number of TV and radio specials, Juliette hosted the CBC TV talk shows After Noon (1969–71) and Juliette and Friends (1973–75). She also sang the anthem at the very first home game for the Vancouver Canucks in 1970.

She began winding down her career in the 1980s, retiring to Vancouver and performing at occasional benefits and nostalgia shows. Her husband died in 1988 of Alzheimer's. She later enjoyed a romance with Raymond Smith, a widower and retired president of forestry giant MacMillan Bloedel, who had once been a member of Mr. Richards's orchestra. She rarely performed after the 1990s but during 2004 she made a special appearance at an event marking the 85th birthday of
bandleader Dal Richards with whom she sang regularly up to her retirement.

Juliette recorded two 78s for RCA's “X” label and one with the Rhythm Pals for Aragon in the early 1950s. She later made three LPs for RCA Camden: Juliette (1968), Juliette’s Christmas World (1968) and Juliette’s Country World (1969).She also recorded many transcription discs of the Juliette show. She appeared on a recording of Dolores Claman's musical comedy Timber! (1954) and the compilation album The Saga of Canadian Country and Folk Music (1972).

Juliette died on Oct. 26, 2017 at a Vancouver rehabilitation centre, where she was staying after suffering injuries from a fall. She was 91.  

(Compiled and edited from various sources mainly the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada)

Here’s Juliette & Frank Ifield dueting with “Don’t Blame Me” in this CBC "Show of the Week" from 1968.

Sunday, 26 August 2018

Vic Dana born 26 August 1942

Due to defunct 3rd party add-ons I could not access my blog without being re-directed; so whilst waiting for Blogger help I created another blog

So for today’s birthday go here:

Should be back as normal tomorrow.

Saturday, 25 August 2018

Lalomie Washburn born 25 August 1941

Lalomie Marion 'Lomie' Washburn (25 August 1941 - 18 December 2004) was a talented yet underappreciated  R&B singer and song writer.

Born in Tennessee, but growing up in Omaha, Nebraska, she had shone in the local church choir like a lot of future Soul stars. Also, she had started to become an observant songwriter at a young age. Supported by her sister Thelma (who cared for Lalomie’s children whilst she was away working), she began to make a mark on the local music scene. She worked alongside acts of the stature of Ike and Tina Turner and Ernie Fields Junior and developed her own striking image, complete her trademark white afro.

Despite having a quite wonderful voice, clear, powerful and warm, her first real success would come in providing songs for other acts. She became part of the sextet High Voltage and with this band she got to record for the first time, but they soon broke up when two of the band joined fledgling Funk titans Rufus. For Lalomie this was bittersweet as she provided “I’m A Woman” and “Your Smile” for the third Rufus record. The former, in particular, would play a large part in establishing them and in turn, Chaka Khan too. She would continue to write for Rufus and also Chaka’s solo career, whilst in 1975 she hooked up with the remnants of cult Psychedelic outfit H.P. Lovecraft under slightly adjusted Love Craft name.

Though the album Love Craft produced We Love You Whoever You Are failed to make much of a mark, the disparate styles all concerned brought to the table meant for a one of kind record. Lalomie wrote or co-wrote all the songs and the record traversed Funk, Psych, Soul, Art Rock anything else they could squeeze in. She was what in the 70s would be called a “free spirit” and thrived in the environment of experimentation.

Though Love Craft folded soon afterwards Parachute Records, an off-shoot of Casablanca, snapped her up in 1977 as a solo entity. There she was supplied with top sessionists like Joe Sample and guitarist Wah Wah Watson as a backing band. With Washburn’s ex-Love Craft band mate Frank Capek collaborating with her to produce some top-notch songs, all was set for Lalomie to make the album of her life.” My Music Is Hot.”


Sadly it wasn’t the massive hit record that it so clearly deserved to be. It seems the record label didn’t do much in terms of promotion and the middle 70s were of course the time of maximum market saturation.  
My Music Is Hot couldn’t find its way out of the mountain of vinyl released each week back then. Even so, you wonder why because this LP stands miles out from the crowd. Although it wasn’t a commercial success Lalomie picked up a following in Germany, releasing some good singles including 1991’s Try My Love  which was particularly popular in the U.K

She was a featured vocalist on Quincy Jones's album 'The Dude' (1981) and appeared on Bridgette McWilliams' album 'Too Much Woman'. (1997) 

In 1994, she was a featured vocalist on Misty Oldland's album 'Supernatural'. In 1997, she released a second solo, self titled, album for the European Soulciety label. She also worked with Buddy Miles and the singer D.J. Rogers. She even returned to tour her old Omaha stomping ground, but sadly she passed away on 18th September 2004 from liver cancer in Los Angeles. In 2005 she was inducted into the Omaha Black Music Hall of Fame. (Info compiled and edited from various sources mainly an article by Ian Canty for

Thursday, 23 August 2018

Little Jimmy Dempsey born 23 August 1937

James Clifford Dempsey (23 August1937 - 29 November 1997) was an American singer, songwriter and top session guitarist. Jimmy Dempsey was born in Atlanta Georgia with a rare brittle bone condition. Throughout his life this condition resulted in 74 broken legs, 10 broken arms and a broken back. As a result, Jimmy walked on crutches his entire life. For most people that’s where the story would have ended. But for Jimmy, it was just the beginning.

At the age of 2 1/2 Jimmy began his career in the music business as a child singer and radio personality with an appearance on the Major Bowes National Network Radio Show in New York City. After that appearance he was invited to sing at the famous Stage Door Canteen in Hollywood California with Eddie Cantor, Phil Harris, Alice Faye and Betty Grable. Upon returning to Atlanta at age 5 he began appearing at many live events and singing on 5 radio shows a day. Between the ages of 8 and 11, he traveled on the weekends throughout the south and in his home town of Atlanta, performing on stage shows between the movie serial matinees with most of the major cowboy movie stars of that era such as Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Tex Ritter and The Son's of the Pioneers just to mention a few. He also did appearances with Bob Hope, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, Bela Lagosi, Lon Chaney Jr. and the Three Stooges.

Throughout his teens he continued performing at local events and became a very popular figure in the Atlanta area. He was a favourite fixture for some time on the Atlanta TV Show - Ed Caparal’s Bandstand Matinee where he amazed everyone with his dancing prowess even while on crutches. At age 17 he began his recording career and by the age of 18, Jimmy bought his first guitar. Within a week had taught himself well enough to play his first show as a backup guitarist for the Lanny Frye Combo and then the Cherokee Boys a popular local Atlanta band. Shortly after that, Jimmy put his own band together and started doing local shows and dances in Atlanta and throughout the south.

During the 50’s and 60’s Jimmy had a total of 12 released and 5 unreleased vocal records. In the late 50’s, Jimmy started doing local studio work that led to him recording and working for Bill Lowery, one of music’s biggest producers and executives. While with Lowery, Jimmy did a lot of work with two fledgling artists at that time named Jerry Reed and Ray Stevens.

Some of the other artists that Jimmy worked with through Lowery were Joe South, Billy Jo Royal and The Vogues and on and on. By this time, Jimmy was in high demand as a studio player in Atlanta, even lending his skills on the guitar to rock and soul superstar Little Richard. He also appeared at numerous events around town and throughout the south with a multitude of stars such as Brenda Lee, Connie Stevens, Faron Young, Ray Price, Carl Perkins and so many more.


He became the lead guitarist for the Longhorn Ranch Boys, a popular Atlanta bar band, during the 1950s, and in 1958 began leading the Cherokee Country Boys, with whom he made his recording debut. In 1962, Dempsey left the group to found his own trio. Among his best-known singles were "Bop Hop" and "Rhode 
Island Red," as well as humorous originals such as "Bessie Was a Good Old Cow" and "Betcha Can't Eat Just One." From the late '50s through the early '60s, Dempsey was part of the Ernest Tubb Radio Program; he also appeared on a German show, American Music.

Throughout the 60’s Jimmy also became very popular on the Atlanta nightclub scene, sometimes playing several different clubs in the same night. He might go from working a show with Aretha Franklin at one club to headlining at a jazz club across town with the “Little” Jimmy Dempsey Trio.   

In the 70’s Jimmy found himself in high demand for session work in Nashville. Travelling back and forth from Atlanta to Nashville on a weekly basis became increasingly inconvenient therefore Jimmy made the difficult decision to move his family from his hometown of Atlanta to Nashville. As th 70's drew to a close,

Jimmy, who had worked in the business since age 5, was contemplating retirement. To the shock of all who knew him, in 1980, at the ripe old age of 43, Jimmy simply unplugged his guitar and said his good-byes to Nashville and the recording business. Jimmy and his wife Tena fulfilled their dream of retiring to a big farm. He devoted a number of years to owning and training harness racing horses. 

In September 1997, Jimmy received the “Atlanta Society of Entertainers Musician of the Year Award”. Jimmy received yet another honour by being named as an inductee into the Inaugural Class of the “North American Country Music Hall of Fame”.

Jimmy died from a heart attack at his home 29 November 1997

(Edited mainly from

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Ron Dante born 22 August 1945

Ron Dante (born Carmine John Granito on August 22, 1945, on Staten Island, New York) is an American singer, songwriter, session vocalist, and record producer. Dante is best known as the lead singer of the fictional cartoon band The Archies; he was also the voice of The Cuff Links and co-produced Barry Manilow’s first nine albums. He is also the singer of many, many iconic commercial jingles.

It all started in Staten Island when young Carmine Granito broke his arm and the doctor gave him a choice of playing a sport or an instrument to help the healing process. The Elvis-loving preteen chose guitar and soon was playing and singing in a neighborhood doo wop band called the Persuaders. At the age of 15, the youngster, now known professionally as Ron Dante, headed to Manhattan to break into the music business. After a few false starts, he ended up working as a demo singer for Don Kirshner's Aldon Music.

He released "Little Lollipop," his first single under the name Ronnie Dante, in 1964 on the Almot label, but it didn't go anywhere. Neither did his next, the novelty song "Don't Stand Up in a Canoe." In a twist that foreshadowed his future career path, Dante did have a hit in 1964 as the anonymous singer of the "Leader of the Pack" parody "Leader of the Laundromat" by the invented group the Detergents.

He spent the next few years writing songs for Bobby Darin's company and releasing singles that didn't worry the charts much.

In 1968, his life changed when he auditioned for a new project Don Kirshner and producer Jeff Barry were working on and got the gig as lead singer. The band was the Archies and the first record to come out was "Bang-Shang-A-Lang." It was a hit, but the next song they released defined an era. "Sugar, Sugar" launched the bubblegum sound and reached number one on the singles chart.


The Archies project continued for a few more years, with the hits drying up and Dante learning the ins and outs of record production, eventually helming their final album, 1971's This Is Love. During that time, he was free to work with other producers and he teamed with Paul Vance and Lee Pockriss on the smash 1969 song "Tracy," credited to the Cuff Links.

Dante released his first solo album, Ron Dante Brings You Up, in 1970, with Jeff Barry producing and Dante co-writing
most of the songs. It didn't take off the way anyone hoped and Dante went back to releasing one-off singles under his own and other names, as well as doing the voice for another cartoon band, the Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan. He also did plenty of work singing commercial jingles, providing vocals on campaigns by Pepsi, McDonald's, and many others, including Coke's famous "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing" spot. At one of these sessions he met Barry Manilow, who was working as Bette Midler's piano player and as a composer of jingles. The two hit it off and began recording demos of Manilow's songs. Their hard work paid off in 1974 when "Mandy" became a huge hit and launched the singer's career.

Dante became Manilow's musical director and producer throughout the 1970s. At the same time, Dante released singles under his own name and under pseudonyms (Bo Cooper, Ronnie & the Dirt Riders), even cutting a disco remake of "Sugar, Sugar" in 1975. He also rode the disco wave with Dante's Inferno, a late-'70s group that featured Dante, Toni Lund, and Monica Burruss on shared vocals.

Around this time Dante began to branch out from music, becoming a Broadway producer and winning Tonys for 1978's Ain't Misbehavin' and 1980's Children of a Lesser God. He also became publisher of The Paris Review for six years starting in 1978, thanks to being a neighbor of the magazine's founder, George Plimpton. He did make another solo album, 1981's Street Angel, and produced records for Irene Cara and Barry Manilow after that, but he then took a long break from releasing anything.

It wasn't until the late '90s that Dante returned to making albums, with a series of recordings of his favorite songs and some originals. First came 1997's California Nights, then 1999's Favorites, and lastly, 2004's Saturday Night Blast. He revived the Archies name soon after that, brought in two vocalists to play Betty and Veronica (Danielle van Zyl and Kelly-Lynn), and released The Archies Christmas Party album in 2008 on the Fuel 2000 label. By now he owned the rights to the Archies recordings and oversaw the reissue on CD of all the band's original albums. As of 2018 Dante continues to play live shows.

(Compiled and edited mainly from Tim Sendra @ All Music)