Jay and the Americans

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Jay and the Americans
Jay and the Americans.png
Jay and the Americans in 1965. L-R: Kenny Vance, Sandy Deanne, Marty Sanders, Howard Kane and Jay Black
Background information
Also known asThe Harborlites, Chapter Four
OriginBelle Harbor, Queens, New York, United States
GenresPop rock[1]
Years active1960–1973, 2006–present
LabelsUnited Artists
Past members

Jay and the Americans are an American rock group who formed in the late 1950s. Their initial line-up consisted of John "Jay" Traynor, Howie Kane (born Howard Kirschenbaum), Kenny Vance (born Kenneth Rosenberg) and Sandy Deanne (born Louis Sandy Yaguda), though their greatest success on the charts came after Traynor had been replaced as lead singer by Jay Black and Marty Sanders (born Martin Joe Kupersmith) was added to the line-up.[2]


Early years[edit]

Originally called The Harborlites, they were discovered while performing in student venues at New York University in the late 1950s. They auditioned for Leiber and Stoller, who gave the group its name.[3]

Career pinnacle[edit]

Soon they signed with United Artists Records. With Jay Traynor singing lead, they first hit the Billboard charts in 1962 with the tune "She Cried", which reached #5 (later covered by The Shangri-Las, Aerosmith, and others). The next two singles did not fare as well, and Traynor left the group.[2] Empires' guitarist Marty Sanders (né Kupersmith) joined the group. He brought David Black (né Blatt) of "The Empires" in to take Traynor's place (after David first agreed to adopt the name Jay Black), and Black sang lead for the rest of the group's major hits.[2]

They recorded "Only in America", a song originally meant for The Drifters.[2] Other notable hits for Jay and the Americans were "Come a Little Bit Closer" in 1964, which hit #3,[2] and "Cara Mia" in 1965, which hit #4. They also recorded a commercial for H.I.S. Slacks and a public service announcement for the Ad Council, featuring a backing track by Brian Wilson and Phil Spector. Two tracks from this era later found favor with the Northern Soul crowd: "Got Hung Up Along The Way" and "Living Above Your Head".[citation needed]

In 1966, the group was featured in the Universal comedy film, Wild Wild Winter, singing "Two of a Kind" at the film's finale, with surf band The Astronauts depicted as providing backup instrumentals. As of February 2017, the song has been released only on the 1966 soundtrack LP.[citation needed]

In 1969, they recorded an album of their favorite oldies called Sands of Time, which included "This Magic Moment", which was originally done by the Drifters.[2] The single went to #6 in early 1969. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc by the R.I.A.A. in May 1969.[4] "This Magic Moment" was the last top ten record for Jay and the Americans, although a follow-up album, Wax Museum, in January 1970, did yield the #19 hit single "Walkin' In The Rain", first recorded by The Ronettes.[2] Their next singles failed to chart, and the band grew apart, but the demand for appearances remained. (Around the same time the band recorded "This Magic Moment", Jay and the Americans member Sandy Yaguda produced a Long Island teen sextet called The Tuneful Trolley. Their late-1968 Capitol LP, Island In The Sky — a hybrid of Beach Boys and Beatlesque psych-pop—was reissued in 2008 in the UK on Now Sounds.) From 1970 to 1971 Jay and the Americans' touring band included Walter Becker and Donald Fagen (of later Steely Dan fame) on backup bass guitar and electric organ.[5]


The group split in 1973. All of the members moved on to solo musical careers, with the exception of Jay Black, who continued to perform as "Jay and the Americans",[6] using a variety of musicians. In 2001, he was featured in the PBS special Rock, Rhythm, and Doo Wop as "Jay Black & The Americans".

The original version of "Cara Mia" went to #1 in the Netherlands when it was re-released in 1980.[7]

Sale of the band name and "reunion"[edit]

The group backstage at Massillon, Ohio (August, 2008) L-R Sandy Deanne, Jay Reincke, Marty Sanders, Howie Kane.

In 2006, Jay Black filed for bankruptcy due to gambling debts, and his ownership of the name "Jay & The Americans" was sold by the bankruptcy trustee to Sandy Deanne (Yaguda), Black's former bandmate and original member of Jay & The Americans, for $100,000. With the name purchase, former members Deanne, Howard Kane, and Marty Sanders reunited, and recruited a sound-alike singer from Chicago, coincidentally nicknamed "Jay." Thus, John "Jay" Reincke became the third "Jay" and the band returned to playing both national and international music venues.[8] Their show covers the history of Jay and The Americans, acknowledging all three Jays and featuring all of the top hits in their original arrangements.[citation needed]

Until 2017, David Blatt continued to tour under his stage name, "Jay Black".[6] In a 2014 interview, he announced that he had Alzheimer's;[9] he continued to perform until 2017. Kenny Vance is currently the lead singer of Kenny Vance and the Planotones,[10] a neo-doo wop band that he formed in the 1970s. After leaving the group, John Traynor recorded a handful of songs on the Coral label, including "I Rise, I Fall" in 1964. None were hits, but "I Rise, I Fall" became a minor hit for Johnny Tillotson. The label billed Traynor as "JAY formerly of Jay and the Americans." Traynor toured with Jay Siegel's Tokens[11] until shortly before his death on January 2, 2014.[12]

Black died on October 22, 2021. In a statement, Jay and the Americans acknowledged that Black and the rest of the group had experienced "very contentious times" but that they respected the success that they achieved with Black as their lead singer.[13]

Awards and recognition[edit]

The group was inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2002.


Current members[edit]

  • Sandy Deanne - vocals (1960–1973, 2006–present)
  • Marty Sanders - guitar, vocals (1962-1973, 2006–present)
  • Jay Reincke - lead vocals (2006–present)
  • Rick Van Horn - drummer (2013-present)

Former members[edit]


Key: Billboard (BB), Cashbox (CB), and RPM charts peak positions


Year Album Peak chart positions Record Label
US 200
1962 She Cried United Artists Records
1962 At the Cafe Wha? (Live Album)
1964 Come a Little Bit Closer 131 88
1965 Blockbusters 113 73
1966 Sunday and Me 141
Livin' Above Your Head
1967 Try Some of This!
1969 Sands of Time 51 30 47
1970 Wax Museum 105 68 71
Wax Museum, Vol. 2
Capture the Moment
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released in that territory.

Compilation albums[edit]

Year Album Peak chart positions Record Label
US 200
1965 Jay & the Americans Greatest Hits 21 58 United Artists Records
1966 Jay & the Americans Greatest Hits, Volume 2
1968 Jay & the Americans!! Sunset Records
1969 Early American Hits
1991 Come a Little Bit Closer: The Best of Jay and the Americans EMI Records
1997 Masterworks 1961-1971 (3 CDs) United American Records
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released in that territory.


Year Title Peak chart positions B-side
From same album as A-side except where indicated



1961 "Tonight" 120 "The Other Girls" She Cried
1962 "She Cried" 5 44 "Dawning"
"This Is It" 109 83 "It's My Turn to Cry" (Non-LP track) Come a Little Bit Closer
"Yes" "Tomorrow" (from Come a Little Bit Closer) She Cried
1963 "What's the Use" "Strangers Tomorrow" Come a Little Bit Closer
"Only in America" 25 28 "My Clair de Lune" (from She Cried)
"Come Dance with Me" 76 82 "Look in My Eyes Maria"
1964 "To Wait for Love" "Friday"
"Come a Little Bit Closer" 3 4 1 "Goodbye Boys, Goodbye"
"Let's Lock the Door (And Throw Away the Key)" 11 10 9 "I'll Remember You" (from Livin' Above Your Head) Blockbusters
1965 "Think of the Good Times" 57 54 31 "If You Were Mine, Girl"
"Cara Mia" 4 4 1 "When It's All Over" (Billboard #129)
"Some Enchanted Evening" 13 15 5 "Girl" Jay & the Americans Greatest Hits!
"Sunday and Me" 18 20 6 "Through This Doorway" (from Jay & the Americans Greatest Hits!) Sunday and Me
1966 "Why Can't You Bring Me Home" 63 55 16 "Baby Stop Your Cryin'"
"Crying" 25 32 33 "I Don't Need a Friend"
"Livin' Above Your Head" 76 78 38 "Look at Me, What Do You See" Livin' Above Your Head
"(He's) Raining in My Sunshine" 90 62 60 "The Reason for Living (For You My Darling)"
(from Livin' Above Your Head)
Try Some of This!
1967 "You Ain't as Hip as All That Baby" "Nature Boy"
"(We'll Meet in The) Yellow Forest" 131 93 75 "Got Hung Up Along the Way" Non-LP tracks
"French Provincial" "Shanghai Noodle Factory"
1968 "No Other Love" 114 119 "No, I Don't Know Her" (from Capture the Moment)
"You Ain't Gonna Wake Up Cryin'" "Gemini (Don't You Ever Wonder Why)"
"This Magic Moment" 6 11 5 1 "Since I Don't Have You" Sands of Time
1969 "When You Dance" 70 41 40 "No, I Don't Know Her" (from Capture The Moment)
"Hushabye" 62 31 45 42 "Gypsy Woman"
"(I'd Kill) For the Love of a Lady" 113 "Learnin' How to Fly" Capture the Moment
"Walkin' in the Rain" 19 8 14 17 "For the Love of a Lady" (from Capture the Moment) Wax Museum, Vol. 1
1970 "Capture the Moment" 57 32 45 41 "Do You Ever Think of Me" (Non-LP track) Capture the Moment
"Do I Love You?" 123 "Tricia (Tell Your Daddy)" (from Capture the Moment) Wax Museum, Vol. 1
1971 "There Goes My Baby" 90 "Solitary Man" Non-LP tracks
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released in that territory.


  1. ^ "Jay & the Americans | Biography & History". AllMusic.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Colin Larkin, ed. (1997). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music (Concise ed.). Virgin Books. p. 667/8. ISBN 1-85227-745-9.
  3. ^ "Doo-Wop Voices: Aaron Neville and Kenny Vance". American Routes. Archived from the original on February 3, 2015. Retrieved February 1, 2015.
  4. ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 242. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
  5. ^ a b Kreps, Daniel (October 23, 2021). "Jay Black, Jay and the Americans Singer, Dead at 82". Rolling Stone. Retrieved October 23, 2021.
  6. ^ a b Long, Colleen (December 7, 2006). "Singer Jay Black Wins Right to Own Name". CBS News. Archived from the original on February 9, 2009. Retrieved February 13, 2019.
  7. ^ "Cara Mia by Jay & the Americans Songfacts". Songfacts.com. Retrieved November 10, 2012.
  8. ^ "Here Comes a Classic! Jay (No. 3) and the Americans to Sing at Suffolk Theater Saturday". Dan's Papers.
  9. ^ "How Jay Black Got Kicked Out of Yeshiva". Forward.com. Retrieved June 12, 2021.
  10. ^ "Kenny Vance and The Planotones". Planotones.com. Retrieved January 5, 2012.
  11. ^ "Jay Siegel talks about being sued by Phil & Mitch Margo of THE TOKENS ("The Lion Sleeps Tonight")". YouTube. September 17, 2010. Retrieved January 5, 2012.[dead YouTube link]
  12. ^ "Former singer, WNYT employee Jay Traynor dies". Albany, New York: WNYT-TV. January 2, 2014. Archived from the original on January 3, 2014. Retrieved January 2, 2014.
  13. ^ Kreps, Daniel (October 23, 2021). "Jay Black, Jay and the Americans Singer, Dead at 82". Rolling Stone. Retrieved October 23, 2021.
  14. ^ a b "Jay & the Americans - Awards". AllMusic. Archived from the original on October 26, 2012. Retrieved July 30, 2022.
  15. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955–1990 - ISBN 0-89820-089-X
  16. ^ "Results: RPM Weekly". Library and Archives Canada.

External links[edit]