The Cuff Links
The Cuff Links were an American rock/pop studio group from Staten Island, New York. The band had a U.S. No. 9 hit in 1969 with "Tracy", with rich harmonised vocals provided entirely by Ron Dante. The track was produced as part of a series of recording sessions – sometimes as many as six in a day – by Dante, with the songs released under a variety of band names.
"Tracy" hit the charts in October 1969, just as "Sugar, Sugar", a single for The Archies and the product of another anonymous recording session by Dante, was descending from its No. 1 spot. Dante's vocals for "Tracy" were recorded in just hours. He recalled: "I put on a lead voice, doubled it a few times, and then put about 16, 18 backgrounds." "Tracy" spent 12 weeks in the U.S. chart, and subsequently sold over one million copies, being awarded a gold record by the R.I.A.A.
Dante had promised "Tracy"'s songwriters, Paul Vance and Lee Pockriss, that if the song was a hit he would record an entire Cuff Links album and when it charted, Vance and Pockriss quickly delved through their catalogue to produce more songs. Dante said: "It was the quickest album I'd ever done. I think I did the entire background vocals and leads in a day and a half – for the entire album. I remember doing at least four or five songs in one day." To speed the project, Vance and Pockriss hired novice arranger Rupert Holmes to work on the album, which including the second hit, "When Julie Comes Around", which peaked at No. 41 in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and No. 10 in the UK Singles Chart. The album liner notes wove a tale of how Vance and Pockriss discovered the "seven-member" group (which according to the same notes later swelled to a nine-person group), but did not name any group members, or show any pictures of the supposed band.
As the album was being completed, Vance and Pockriss created a seven-member touring band, comprising Pat Rizzo (saxophone), Rich Dimino (keyboards), Bob Gill (trumpet/flugelhorn/flute), Dave Lavender (guitar), Andrew "Junior" Denno (bass), Joe Cord (vocals) and Danny Valentine (drums).
Dante opted not to tour with the group, having accepted a solo album recording contract by Archies creator Don Kirshner that excluded any more outside work. When he called Vance to obtain his royalties for the first album, Vance refused to pay up unless Dante recorded a second album. The dispute was settled only after a personal confrontation at Vance's office
For the second Cuff Links album, Vance and Pockriss remained as producers, and vocals were split between Joey Cord and Rupert Holmes. "Run Sally Run", the album's first single, was the third and last Cuff Links single to reach the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at No. 76 in April 1970. Follow-up single "Robin's World" appeared on the Billboard Easy Listening Top 40 the following June. Cord's vocals appeared on only a few tracks on the second Cuff Links album, The Cuff Links, with most songs featuring Holmes. Meanwhile, the album's liner notes once again talked about the Cuff Links as a nine-member group, though only seven people were pictured on the album cover, and none of the group members were identified by name.
Note that the version of "Jennifer Tomkins" included on this second album is virtually identical to the hit version performed in 1970 by the ad hoc group Street People, which hit #36 on the US charts in 1970. This is because Street People also featured Rupert Holmes as its lead singer and arranger, as well as production by Paul Vance. The Cuff Links' track "Jennifer Tomkins" is essentially the same as the hit single, with a few minor differences in the mix.
The Cuff Links issued a final non-LP (and non-charting) single for Decca in 1971, entitled "All Because Of You". The Cuff Links name was later revived for unsuccessful singles on the Atco and Roulette labels in 1972 and 1975. Both sides of every Cuff Links single were written and produced by Vance and Pockriss.
In 1999 singer-songwriter Michael "Valentine" Ubriaco obtained the touring rights to the Cuff Links name and revived the group for live performances. That band includes original guitarist Dave Lavender and still tours.
|US Release Date||
||Label & Cat No.||Chart Positions||Album|
|US Hot 100||Australia ||Canada ||UK|
|August 1969||"Tracy"||Decca 32533||9||9||1||4||Tracy|
|November 1969||"When Julie Comes Around"||Decca 32592||41||13||24||10|
|February 1970||"Run Sally Run"||Decca 32639||76||23||40||-||The Cuff Links|
|May 1970||"Robin's World"||Decca 32687||-||45||-||-|
|October 1970||"Thank You Pretty Baby"||Decca 32732||-||-||-||-|
|February 1971||"All Because Of You"||Decca 32791||-||-||-||-||Non-LP singles|
|1975||"Some Girls Do (Some Girls Don't)"||Roulette 7171||-||-||-||-|
- Tracy (Decca, 1969)
"Tracy" / "All the Young Women" / "Heather" / "Early in the Morning" / "Put a Little Love in Your Heart" / "Lay a Little Love On Me" / "When Julie Comes Around" / "I Remember" / "Sweet Caroline" / "Where Did You Go?" / "Sally Ann (You're Such a Pretty Baby)"
- The Cuff Links (Decca, 1970)
"Robin's World" / "Thank You Pretty Baby" / "Jennifer Tomkins" / "Down in Louisiana" / "Mister Big (Oh What a Beautiful Day)" / "The Kiss" / "Foundation of Love" / "Bobbie" / "Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)" / "Run Sally Run" / "Afraid of Tomorrow"
1999 Anniversary Single "Walk Away Girl" Michael "Valentine" Ubriaco ©2001M.R.Ubriaco
- Joel Whitburn, "The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits,", Billboard Books, 2000
- Cooper, Kim; Smay, David, eds. (2001). Bubblegum Music is the Naked Truth: The Dark History of Prepubescent Pop, From the Banana Splits to Britney Spears. Feral House. ISBN 0-922915-69-5.
- Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 257. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
- Steffen Hung. "Forum - CHART POSITIONS PRE 1989, part 2 (ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts)". australian-charts.com. Retrieved 2012-04-10.
- "RPM - Library and Archives Canada | RPM - Bibliothèque et Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 2012-04-10.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 74. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
Michael Valentine and the Sensational Sixties Band on YouTube