Sandy Deanne w/Jay & the Americans – Excerpt #3 from Book 1, Blast from Your Past! Rock & Roll Radio DJs: the First Five Years 1954-1959
Your Rockin’ Rochelle at BFYP-FM is stroking the clock for timely tunes. I’m tickin’ down the decade’s end with a tuneful tale from the other side of the microphone. Listen up, m’friends!
Mixing business with pleasure can be nice, but heed my advice, keep your cool, don’t be a fool, “Is That Too Much to Ask?”
of Jay & the Americans
with bandmates Howie Kane and John Reineke (Jay #3)
BFYP trivia alert! Do you know that before Jay & the Americans, original member, Sandy Deanne, first wrote and released songs as founding member with the Harborlites in the late 1950s? And it was a friendly radio disk jockey who helped the teen trio hit the airwaves in New York City.
“Cousin Brucie and I were dating sisters,” said songwriter Sandy, in his palpable New York inflection. “I knew he was a DJ and he knew I had a band.” But until their record “Is That Too Much to Ask” was released in 1959, conversations were a fleeting “hi” in chance meetings at the sisters’ home.
“When the record came out,” Sandy continued, “Cousin Brucie stepped up to the plate. He really liked it, I guess, ‘cause he played it a lot. It was a turntable hit for us and got us started.”
|August 1959, Bruce Morrow on-air @ WINS/New York|
Doing what makes him popular even today, Bruce made the Harborlites personal to his listeners. He called the band members by name, Sandy (Deanne, a.k.a. Yaguda), Kenny (Vance, a.k.a. Rosenberg), and Sydelle (Sherman, a pioneer in women’s music of the decade), which endeared the band to his radio audience.
As the Harborlites faded into the sunset and Jay & the Americans’ star began to rise, Cousin Brucie again, treated his listeners to their new sound.
Breaking up is always hard to do, but the heartache for women music artists of the era was even more intense. “We became an all guys group,” said Sandy, “… and we didn’t have to worry about separate dressing rooms for the girl anymore.” Sigh. Our bra-burning days were still nearly a decade away.
“Actually,” Sandy admitted, “that was the main reason for the break-up of the Harborlites. It just got to be too much trouble every time we played a show. And at the time, girls were not happenin’! But she was a great singer.”
The “girl issue” in bands obviously reflected women’s issues in radio, as at the time there were few women DJs. However, that’s a book for another time. You will though, find a few key women DJs in BFYP’s 25-year edition.
Jay & the Americans’ core group consisted of Sandy, John (Jay) Traynor, Kenny Vance and Howie Kane. Through the tumultuous Sixties and early Seventies they would undergo some member changes. Today, you’ll find again, Sandy and Howie, with an early member returned, Marty Sanders, and Jay #3, John Reincke. Jay & the Americans are back in action!
We were diggin’ the Moondog!
What kind of connection did the DJs and bands have in the late ’50s – for those who weren’t dating sisters? “Even before we started [as a band], in Rock & Roll it was Alan Freed,” said Sandy. “We’d go to his shows and he had a great influence on what was happening. Later on there was Dick Clark, and he had great impact on any record he wanted to ‘make’ – they simply became hits.”
Though the BFYP timeline ends this decade (and edition) at 1959, it’s fitting to mention that Jay & the Americans paid tribute to Alan Freed with dedication to his memory in their 1969 album, “Sands of Time.”
“Everybody starts somewhere and everybody has heroes and idols that they look up to,” Sandy reminds us. “Alan was the guy who got us feeling that we could do this. Sands of Time,” said Sandy, “is all about that inspiration. We picked our favorite songs by our favorite acts and recorded them the way we would do them, had they not been recorded by the others.”
Alan loved the kids and promoted young music artists at every opportunity. He created shows – most memorably at the Paramount Theatre (NYC) for teen stars like Frankie Lyman & the Teenagers.
“He had them up on stage,” and Sandy recalls the band’s reaction, “We want to be like that!
Talk swirled around the late ‘50s and 1960s, “The DJs [at WABC, WINS and the Good Guys’ WMCA] who were playing the music back in those days, were the guys who gave you the hope.” And John chimed in, “We had a couple of great stations in Chicago, too.”
From Sandy, “Dick Biondi was on WLS,” and like many longtime friends, without missing a beat, John finished, “and WCFL was the other big Chicago station back then.”
More from Sandy, and chuckles of memories from Howie and John in the next decade, as Jay & the Americans croon “She Cried,” and seduce us with “Come a Little Bit Closer.” Get close to the 25-year edition!