By permission of KENT KOTAL / THE60sSHOP / FORGOTTEN HITS I am posting this interview with Ron Dante this week. To subscribe to FORGOTTEN HITS, which is a great newsletter if you are like me and into music of the 60's, you can e-mail them at The60sShop@aol.com . Here is part two of the series.
For three consecutive weeks in October / November of 1969, RON DANTE had TWO songs in Billboard's Top Ten ... yet virtually NOBODY knew who he was!!!
That's because (despite the fact that he was the lead singer of both THE ARCHIES ... who's latest single, SUGAR, SUGAR had just topped the charts for four straight weeks ... and THE CUFF LINKS ... who's debut single TRACY was quickly rising into The National Top Ten), RON DANTE filled those roles in an anonymous position ... NOBODY was supposed to know that he was heading up these two fictitious bands!!!
Both THE ARCHIES and THE CUFF LINKS were studio creations ... THE ARCHIES were the brainchild of mega pop music producer DON KIRSHNER (who, after being fired by THE MONKEES, probably figured he'd have less of a power struggle dealing with fictional cartoon characters) and THE CUFF LINKS, thrown together in the studio simply because the record label (and DANTE's old DETERGENTS pals PAUL VANCE and LEE POCKRISS) believed that the new song they had just written, TRACY, could be a big pop hit.
Both gambles paid off ... THE ARCHIES would have a total of six Top 40 Pop Hits between 1968 and 1970 ... and THE CUFF LINKS hit The Top 40 twice ... first with the aforementioned Top Ten Hit TRACY ... and then again with their follow-up release, WHEN JULIE COMES AROUND.
After his initial success with THE DETERGENTS, DANTE continued to work around the studio recording demos, handling background vocals, writing songs and even producing a few records for other artists (such as BOBBY VEE). He also began his very lucrative career recording jingles ... commercial advertisements for a HUGE variety of products and companies ... that continues to this day.
FORGOTTEN HITS: I have covered pieces of your career before in FORGOTTEN HITS. One of my FAVORITE stories to tell is how you had TWO songs in the Top Ten at the same time ... yet NOBODY really knew who RON DANTE was!!! Meanwhile, TRACY (by THE CUFF LINKS) and SUGAR, SUGAR (by THE ARCHIES) fought each other for chart position back in 1969!!! What was that like ... having TWO Top Ten Records ... and receiving virtually NO recognition for it?!?!?
RON DANTE: Having both Sugar, Sugar and Tracy as hits at the same time was a dream come true. I always wanted to be on the radio and this was twice the airplay all over the world. Tracy was also a hit in the UK, too. The fact that my name was not on those records did not bother me too much. I knew the word would get out as to who was the lead singer and good things would follow. They did. I ended up being one of the top jingle singers in the business during those years and had my own solo album coming out. Those were wonderful days.
FH: To a degree, the success of your whole career has been almost as an anonymous, faceless presence ... we all know the voice, but (at the time anyway) the name of RON DANTE never really came into play. Was this a conscious move on your part? Was there a specific reason for staying behind the scenes ... something as simple as stagefright perhaps ... or were you simply a victim of circumstances? (Obviously, behind the scenes you could be on as many different recordings as you wanted ... but did you ever miss the spotlight? The touring and reaction from the fans? The simple acknowledgment of your talent?) Now that you're making live appearances (we JUST missed an opportunity to see you in Las Vegas with ANDY KIM a couple of years ago because we had a wedding rehearsal that same night!), what is it like performing for a live audience? For the most part, are the people who come out to see these shows already familiar with your work ... or are they somewhat surprised by some of the material you've been involved with? And, what does a RON DANTE concert generally cover?
RD: Not using my name was not my idea and it just happened that way. As a singer by trade, I just sang as much as possible and in almost any circumstances. My concerts usually consist of my Archie hits: Sugar, Sugar, Jingle Jangle and Bang Shang A Lang, along with a couple of my Cuff Link hits, Tracy and When Julie Comes Around. I also include songs by The Monkees, The Ohio Express, The Turtles and The Dave Clark Five. I have to do at least one song from my Manilow days and a bunch of commercials.
Wanna see RON DANTE in concert? Check out his awesome website for any appearances that may be coming up near you. There are also lots of great products for sale and RON DANTE information to be found. Check it out at:http://rondante.com/#bookings
TODAY'S MUSIC:Tracy and When Julie Comes Around by The Cuff LinksSugar, Sugar by The Archies
DIDJAKNOW?-1: RON DANTE handled ALL of the vocals on THE CUFF LINKS' debut album ... the idea was to make the music sound like it was being performed by a real band. He overdubbed his voice time and time again to achieve this effect.
DIDJAKNOW?-2: Once the fictitious CUFF LINKS had a couple of Top 40 Hits under their belts, there was a demand for them to tour. DANTE refused to go (preferring to continue to work in the studio, cutting his first solo album and pursuing his very lucrative jingles work ... thus earning a FAR greater return on his time-investment!) and was replaced by RUPERT HOLMES, who had ALSO kicked around the studio for quite a while in the '60's and '70's as the voice of both STREET PEOPLE and THE BUOYS (whose cannibalism track, TIMOTHY, is one of our most often requested tunes.) In the 1980's he would achieve mega-fame on his own with the #1 Hit Single ESCAPE (THE PINA COLADA SONG). HOLMES also handled the vocals on the SECOND CUFF LINKS album.