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Len Barry

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Len Barry
Barry in 1990
Barry in 1990
Background information
Birth nameLeonard Warren Borisoff
Born(1942-06-12)June 12, 1942
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
DiedNovember 5, 2020(2020-11-05) (aged 78)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
GenresBlue-eyed soul[1]
  • Musician
  • songwriter
  • record producer
Years active1958–2020

Leonard Warren Borisoff (June 12, 1942 – November 5, 2020),[2] known professionally by the stage name Len Barry, was an American singer, songwriter, lyricist, record producer, author, and poet.

Life and career[edit]

Born on June 12, 1942, and raised in Philadelphia,[3] Barry had little thought of a show business career while still in school. Instead, he aspired to become a professional basketball player upon his graduation. It was not until he entered military service and had occasion to sing with the US Coast Guard band at Cape May, New Jersey, and was so encouraged by the response of his military audiences, that he decided to make music a career.

Upon his discharge from military service, Barry returned home to Philadelphia and formed the Dovells. Barry was the lead singer, appearing on all of the group's best-selling records, such as "Bristol Stomp", "Hully Gully Baby", and "You Can't Sit Down", among others. "Bristol Stomp" sold over one million copies and was awarded a RIAA gold disc.[4] As a Dovell, he also toured with James Brown. Barry also made film appearances with the Dovells in films such as Don't Knock the Twist and toured the UK with the Motown Revue. Barry also had guest appearances on US television on Bandstand and later American Bandstand, Shindig, and Hullabaloo. Soon after leaving the group, Barry recorded his first solo single, "Lip Sync".[4]

As someone who sang rhythm and blues, he recorded hits in 1965 and 1966 for Decca Records in the US and released by Brunswick Records: "1-2-3", "Like a Baby", and "I Struck It Rich", a song he wrote with Leon Huff of the Philadelphia International Records producers, Gamble and Huff.

His first two hits also made the Top Ten of the UK Singles Chart. "1-2-3" reached number three.[5] Those songs also peaked at number 2 and 27 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart respectively. "1-2-3" sold over four million copies, and gave Barry his second RIAA gold disc and a Grammy Award nomination for Contemporary Rock & Roll Male Vocal Performance.[4] Both "1-2-3" and "Like a Baby" were composed by Barry, John Madara, and David White.

He performed at the Apollo Theatre in New York; the Howard Theatre in Washington, D.C.; The Regal Chicago, Chicago; Illinois; The Fox Theatre (Detroit) in Detroit, Michigan; and The Uptown (Philadelphia), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He also toured with Sam Cooke, The Motown Revue in the United Kingdom, and appeared on Top of the Pops.

He became a major singing star in the United Kingdom. Highlights of his European tour included featured performances at the London Palladium and Royal Albert Hall as well as numerous appearances throughout England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Barry's respect for the Native American culture led him to write and produce the instrumental "Keem-O-Sabe".[6] The song went to number 16 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1969 for The Electric Indian.[7]

He also did writing and production work with WMOT Productions.[8] With Bobby Eli he helped write the hit singles "Zoom" for Fat Larry's Band[9] and "Love Town" for Booker Newberry III.[10]

In May 2008, Barry reinvented himself as an author with the publication of the novel, Black-Like-Me. The storyline involved a pair of Caucasian siblings growing up in a largely African-American neighborhood, accepted by some, rejected by others.[11]

In 2011, Barry was featured in the PBS Series My Music: Rock, Pop & Doo Wop.[12]

Len Barry died on November 5, 2020, at Nazareth Hospital in Philadelphia. The cause was myelodysplasia, or cancer of the bone marrow.[13][14]




As lead singer with The Dovells[edit]

(See separate Wikipedia article for The Dovells for full discography)

Year Single Chart position
1961 "Bristol Stomp" 2 70
1962 "The New Continental" 37
"Bristol Twisting Annie" 27
"Hully Gully Baby" 25
1963 "You Can't Sit Down" 3

Solo singles discography[edit]

Year Single (A-side, B-side)
Both sides from same album except where indicated
Chart position Album
US UK[5] AU Can
1964 "Don't Come Back"
b/w "Jim Dandy"
- - - - Len Barry Sings with the Dovells
"Hearts Are Trump"
b/w "Little White House"
Original release on Cameo
- - - -
"Let's Do It Again"
b/w "Happy Days"
- - - - Non-album singles
1965 "Lip Sync"
b/w "At the Hop '65"
84 - - - 1-2-3
b/w "Bullseye"
2 3 7 3
1966 "Like a Baby"
b/w "Happiness (Is a Girl Like You)"
27 10 31 -
"Hearts Are Trump"
b/w "Little White House"
Second release on Parkway
- - - - Len Barry Sings with the Dovells
b/w "It's a Crying Shame"
26 - 52 28 Non-album singles
"It's That Time of The Year"
b/w "Happily Ever After"
91 - 82 84
"I Struck It Rich"
b/w "Love Is"
98 55[A] - -
"You Baby"
b/w "Would I Love You"
- - - - 1-2-3
1967 "The Moving Finger Writes"
b/w "Our Love"
124 - - - My Kind of Soul
"All Those Memories"
b/w "Rainy Side of the Street" (from My Kind of Soul)
- - - - Non-album singles
"Come Rain or Shine"
b/w "The ABC'S of Love"
- - - -
1968 "Sweet and Funky"
b/w "I Like the Way"
- - - -
"456 (Now I'm Alone)"
b/w "Funky Night"
- - - -
"Christopher Columbus"
b/w "You're My Picasso Baby"
- - - -
"A Child Is Born"
b/w "Wouldn't It Be Beautiful"
- - - -
1969 "Put Out the Fire"
b/w "Spread It On Like Butter"
- - - -
b/w "This Old World"
- - - -
1970 "Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice"
b/w "In My Present State of Mind"
- - - -
1972 "Diggin' Life"
b/w "Just the Two of Us"
- - - - Ups and Downs
b/w "You Baby"
Chart reentry in UK
- 52 - - 1-2-3
1973 "Heaven + Earth"
b/w "I'm Marching to the Music"
- - - - Non-album singles
2006 "I'm in Love"
b/w "Love Love Love"
- - -

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Chart position is from the official UK "Breakers List".
  1. ^ Len Barry at AllMusic. Retrieved September 12, 2017.
  2. ^ Sandomir, Richard (November 20, 2020). "Len Barry, 78, Dies; Soulful Voice of 'Bristol Stomp' and '1-2-3'". The New York Times. Retrieved March 20, 2021.
  3. ^ "Today in history". ABC News. Associated Press. June 12, 2014.
  4. ^ a b c Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 134 & 186. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
  5. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 43. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  6. ^ "Len Barry's Bio Page". Lenbarry.com. Retrieved January 26, 2014.
  7. ^ Joel Whitburn (2004). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits (8th ed.). Billboard Books. ISBN 9780823074990.
  8. ^ "Len Barry". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved January 27, 2014.
  9. ^ "Zoom - Fat Larry's Band | Listen, Appearances, Song Review". AllMusic. Retrieved January 26, 2014.
  10. ^ "Love Town - Booker Newberry III | Listen, Appearances, Song Review". AllMusic. Retrieved January 26, 2014.
  11. ^ Barry, Len; Borisoff, Spencer; Borisoff, Leonard; Barry, Spencer (May 2, 2008). BLACK-LIKE-ME: Len Barry, Spencer Barry: 9781904408345: Amazon.com: Books. Bank House Books. ISBN 978-1904408345.
  12. ^ "Rock, Pop And Doo Wop (My Music)". Kpbs.org. March 3, 2011. Retrieved May 10, 2020.
  13. ^ "Len Barry, '1-2-3' and 'Bristol Stomp' Singer, Dies". Best Classic Bands. November 6, 2020.
  14. ^ "Len Barry, 1960s rock 'n roll recording star and lead voice of the Dovells, dies at 78". Philadelphia Inquirer. November 6, 2020.
  15. ^ "Len Barry Latest Albums | MTV". VH1. Archived from the original on November 27, 2004. Retrieved January 26, 2014.

External links[edit]