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Fact #16230


Short story:

Jay And The Americans record their debut single, Tonight [from the Leonard Bernstein musical West Side Story] for United Artists Records at Bell Sound Studios, New York City, USA.

Full article:

Jay Traynor (Jay And The Americans) : When I left The Mystics, Kenny Vance called me and asked if I wanted to form a new group. I said, 'Sure!' and went to Rockaway and started singing with Kenny and his friend, Howie Kershenbaum (aka Howie Kane). Kenny had a connection with Leiber and Stoller Productons through a new young record producer named Terry Philips. We decided to bring in Sandy as a fourth andmade a demo of The Five Keys hit Wisdom Of A Fool. Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller heard the demo and signed us. They gave us the name, The Americans, which is how they signed us to United Artists.

Leiber and Stoller decided to do the producing themselves. We started recording with Tonight from West Side Story. I had never heard the song before and sang it differently from the way they knew it. They liked it and decided that would be the first single.

The recording had a predominant voice with background singing, as opposed to a four-person doo-wop type song. They felt the group should have a lead singer's name tagged on as well. I got a phone call one day and they said, 'OK, we've changed the name of the group. You're gonna be Binky Jones and the Americans.' They had this corny kind of humour – you've heard their Coasters records. So I said, 'No, I don't want to b Binky Jones for the rest of my life. I'd rather use the nickname that I've been called all my life – Jay. My real name is John but from the time I was three years old my grandfather used to call me JT and Jay eventually became the predominant part of my name.
(Source : sleeve notes to the 1990 CD compilation Come A Little Bit Closer – The Best Of Jay And The Americans]