Sunday, August 22, 2010

August 22

Why write about Ron Dante on his birthday? Because he sang the biggest song of 1969, but nobody knew his name.
He left his behind birth name, Carmine Granito, when he joined his first band in the early 60's. Eventually, he was working with producer Don Kirschner, songwriting and singing demos.
In 1965, he was the lead singer of a comedy band, The Detergents: they hit the Top 10 with the parody "Leader of the Laundromat" (they got hit with a lawsuit, too; that was settled out of court.) They hit the Hot 100 one more time with "Double-0 Seven" (not a parody, just a comedy song about dating a James Bond fan) before they called it a day:

"Leader of the Laundromat" was written by the team of Paul Vance and Lee Pockriss, who wrote some successful original hits ("Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini", "Catch a Falling Star".) They recruited Dante to sing vocals for a demo(all the vocals: lead, and all harmonies.) The agreement was, if the song was a hit, Dante would record an entire album for them; the song became a Top 10 hit by the end of 1969.

After the success of "Tracy", Dante recorded all the songs for The Cuff-Links' first album in two days (at the boards, up-and-coming music producer Rupert Holmes...)

The reason for all the rush was that one of Dante's singing sessions was becoming the biggest hit of 1969. Don Kirschner, having just washed his hands of The Monkees, was hired to create music for a TV series based on the comic book character Archie Andrews; Kirschner hired Dante to sing vocals for their songs (and "Leader of the Pack" composer Jeff Barry as lead songwriter; small world...) "Sugar Sugar" was the Archies' monster hit, a global sensation that set the bar for cartoon rock for decades.
The Archies would hit the Top 40 four times; here's their other million-selling single, "Jingle Jangle", taken from the Ed Sullivan archives:

(Trivia: which member of the Archies is singing lead on "Jingle Jangle"? Betty? Veronica? It's Ron Dante, falsetto!)

So, Dante recorded hit songs for the Archies and the Cuff-Links in 1969, without having to tour for either of them. Instead, Dante accepted a solo recording contract with Don Kirschner, which excluded any outside work (except, of course, Don Kirschner projects...)

"Let Me Bring You Up", the lead-up single from his 1970 solo album, was written by the "Sugar Sugar" songwriters. Despite this, they couldn't strike lightning twice. By 1972, Dante was the lead singer in another cartoon band...

It wasn't the end of his music career; he made it through the 70's producing some of Barry Manilow's greatest hits ('Copacabana', 'Mandy'), before parlaying into Broadway production (Ain't Misbehavin, Children of a Lesser God). Today, he raises dalmations and tours for the festival crowd; he resumed his solo career in 1999, and released his most recent in 2010.

1 comment:

  1. Cool writeup on a super talent - and a really nice guy, too! Happy birthday to Rockin' Ron Dante!!! :)