Paul Leka (February 20, 1943 – October 12, 2011) was an American songwriter, pianist, arranger, and orchestrator, most notable for his writing associations with the later 1960s hits "Green Tambourine" and "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye", the latter of which has become a standard song at sporting events.
Life and career
Born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, Leka was one of four children of Theodore and Dhimitra Leka, immigrants from Albania. His father worked as a short-order cook. Soon after he started taking piano lessons, Paul was writing songs, and by age 16, his brother said, he was trying to sell them to music publishers in New York.
Described as "one of those rare, genuinely prodigious musicians who was too talented to limit himself to actually being a member of one group or recording project", Paul Leka grew up in Connecticut and played piano as a child and later became a multi-instrumentalist. He played with a group called The Chateaus, who recorded some singles for Coral Records in the 1960s. Leka soon gave up performing for production and arranging work. He principally wrote songs for and had hits with The Lemon Pipers (for whom, with Shelley Pinz, he wrote "Green Tambourine"), The Peppermint Rainbow in which he produced, arranged, and orchestrated for their song "Will You Be Staying After Sunday?" and Steam, which featured two of his bandmates from The Chateaus, and who scored a multiplatinum hit with the Leka co-written "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye". Leka is credited in particular with writing the well-known "Na Na Hey Hey" chorus. To get the right sound for that song, Leka said he used a hammer to bang directly on the piano keys. During this same period, Leka became a producer and arranger for The Left Banke, producing and arranging the majority of the songs on The Left Banke Too.
Leka won many awards including gold records for his hits.
Leka owned a recording studio called Connecticut Recording, located above a five and dime store on Main Street, Bridgeport. He recorded a number of performers there over the years, including Harry Chapin, who recorded "Cats In the Cradle" at the studio. He later relocated the studio to his home in Sharon.
Leka died of lung cancer at a hospice near his home in Sharon, Connecticut on October 12, 2011. He was survived by his wife, Engjellushe; their son Alexander; and two children from his first marriage, Derek and Heather. A third son, Theodore preceded him in death.
- "And I'll Be There" - The Peppermint Rainbow
- "Blueberry Blue" - The Lemon Pipers
- "Come on Back and Love Me" - Steam
- "Come on Home Girl" - Steam
- "Do Unto Others" - Steam
- "Don't Stop Lovin' Me" - Steam
- "Everything Is You" - The Lemon Pipers
- "Green Tambourine" - The Lemon Pipers
- "I'm the One Who Loves You" - Steam
- "I've Cried a Million Tears" - Steam
- "I've Gotta Make You Love Me" - Steam
- "It's the Magic in You Girl" - Steam
- "Lonely Atmosphere" - The Lemon Pipers
- "Lots of Pretty Girls" - Tommy James & the Shondells
- "Love and Affection" - Steam
- "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye" - Steam
- "New Breed, Now Generation" - Steam
- "One Good Woman" - Steam
- "Pink Lemonade" - The Five Americans
- "Pretty Thing" - The Plum Beach Incident and Gary Lewis & the Playboys
- "Rice Is Nice" - The Lemon Pipers
- "Rosemary" - The Peppermint Rainbow
- "Run Like the Devil" - The Peppermint Rainbow
- "She Is a Little Bit Sweeter" - Paul Mauriat
- "Shoeshine Boy" - The Lemon Pipers
- "REO Speedwagon" - REO Speedwagon (1971) (with Billy Rose II)
- "R.E.O./T.W.O." - REO Speedwagon (1972) (with Billy Rose II)
- "Paul Leka Obituary". Connecticut Post. Retrieved 2011-10-19.
- New York Times Obituary
- See, for example, DJ's Choice: Official Football Sunday (Turn Up The Music, 2002); www.allmusic.com.
- Bruce Eder, Biography of Paul Leka; www.allmusic.com.
- See Credits for Various Releases of The Left Banke Too.The Left Banke Home Page: Smash Sessions; www.keepkey.yochanan.net.
- McArdle, Terence. "Paul Leka, co-writer of 'Na Na, Hey Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye),' dies at 68." The Washington Post. October 25, 2011. Retrieved 4-6-2013.