Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Ron Dante Forgotten Hits Interview The Archies tie in

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 . Here is part two of the series.

Several years ago, I did an in-depth piece on THE ARCHIES for FORGOTTEN HITS. We're running it again today as one of our '60's FLASHBACKS to tie into this special RON DANTE Series. I forwarded the original copy as written to RON and asked him to make any comments, adjustments or corrections that he felt necessary ... you'll find THAT information in tomorrow's FORGOTTEN HITS mailing.

***'60's FLASHBACK

SUGAR, SUGAR by THE ARCHIES is a regular part of oldies radio programming ... and deservedly so ... it was the biggest hit record of 1969 ... but you NEVER hear their follow-up Top Ten Hit JINGLE JANGLE ... not that there's necessarily anything wrong with that!
THE ARCHIES were the brain-child of DON KIRSHNER and SUGAR, SUGAR was originally offered to THE MONKEES, Kirshner's previous hit teeny-bopper protege band. Seems that THE MONKEES by 1968 felt a need to change their image and SUGAR, SUGAR would have put them right back in the teeny-bop, bubblegum bag. By the same token, after Kirshner was fired by THE MONKEES, he probably felt a lot safer working with a make-believe, comic-book band that couldn't talk back!
Whereas SUGAR, SUGAR was voiced by RON DANTE, I guess "BETTY AND VERONICA" took over the lead vocals for the follow-up hit. JINGLE JANGLE went all the way to #8 in Cash Box Magazine in early 1970 and, in fact, THE ARCHIES had four other National Top 40 Hits: BANG-SHANG-A-LANG went to #9 and FEELIN' SO GOOD to #30 before the SUGAR, SUGAR explosion of '69 ... and WHO'S YOUR BABY and SUNSHINE both followed JINGLE JANGLE into The Top 40, peaking at #29 and #30 respectively, in 1970, giving them six Top 40 Hits in all ... not a bad track record for a group that never really existed! (We recently featured a WILSON PICKETT version of SUGAR, SUGAR in our ATLANTIC RECORDS profile, which prompted this follow-up look back at THE ARCHIES in the first place.)
We also covered RON DANTE some time ago in FORGOTTEN HITS, featuring a couple of his other uncredited lead vocals: TRACY by THE CUFF LINKS was a #5 hit in 1969 (ironically at the same time SUGAR, SUGAR was on top of the charts) and he also hit The Top 20 as the lead singer of THE DETERGENTS with their novelty hit LEADER OF THE LAUNDROMAT. In the early '70's, he produced several of BARRY MANILOW's hit albums and MANILOW repaid the favor along the way, producing a heavily-orchestrated, disco version of SUGAR, SUGAR, a rare RON DANTE-issued single that failed to chart in 1975.WHO WERE THE ARCHIES?: In addition to RON DANTE, who is most-often singled out as the voice of THE ARCHIES, several other key players were also involved. Hit songwriter JEFF BARRY and his wife and songwriting partner ELLIE GREENWICH were both key components, along with ANDY KIM, who, in addition to his own solo success in the late '60's, also helped co-write several of THE ARCHIES' hits with BARRY. TONI WINE handled most of the female vocal parts (along with some help from GREENWICH) and One-Hit Wonder ROBIN McNAMARA (LAY A LITTLE LOVIN' ON ME) played in the back-up band. Session whiz HUGH McCRACKEN (along with GARY CHESTER, ARTIE BUTLER and TONY PASSALACQUA) also participated in the recording sessions. BOBBY BLOOM (MONTEGO BAY), DONNA MARIE (who replaced WINE after a royalties dispute with KIRSHNER) and even novelty king RAY STEVENS (who supposedly supplied hand-claps on SUGAR, SUGAR) filled out the roster. The original ARCHIE Comic Books date back to 1942 and their musical incarnation started as a Saturday morning cartoon show on CBS in 1967. Ironically, although the program didn't air in the U.K., SUGAR, SUGAR still went to the top of the charts there, where it stayed for eight weeks! Kids across America were also able to collect ARCHIES records simply by cutting out the cardboard disk on the back of Post Cereal Boxes!!!

DIDJAKNOW?: THE ARCHIES knocked the ROLLING STONES out of the #1 spot on the U.S. chart when SUGAR, SUGAR displaced HONKY TONK WOMEN at the top!!!OHMYGOD!!!: He's not REALLY gonna do a whole week of ARCHIES, is he?!?!?! No .... just havin' some fun today. Or so we said, back in 2003 ... but THIS time around, we've got a whole week planned around the career of RON DANTE ... including an EXCLUSIVE FORGOTTEN HITS Interview and Concert Review ... so stick around!!!

1 comment:

Don "Stuffed Animal" Charles said...

I believe I can tell you who nearly all the singers were on Archies singles.

Ron Dante, with Jeff Barry and Toni Wine.

"Feelin' So Good"
Ron Dante, with Jeff Barry.

"Sugar, Sugar"
Ron Dante, with Toni Wine.

"Jingle Jangle"
Ron Dante (singing in a high register), with Toni Wine and Jeff Barry.

"Who's Your Baby?"
Ron Dante and Donna Marie, with Jeff Barry and unknown studio singers.

Ron Dante, with Bobby Bloom.

"Together We Two"
Ron Dante and Donna Marie, with Susan Morse, Leslie Miller and Maeretha Stewart.

"This Is Love"
Ron Dante, with Merle Miller, Susan Morse and Leslie Miller.

"A Summer Prayer For Peace"
Ron Dante, with Jeff Barry.

"Love Is Living In You"
Phil Cody, with members of the group Playhouse (unconfirmed).

"Strangers In The Morning"
Ron Dante, with Merle Miller.

Susan Morse was one of several vocalists from the Broadway cast of "Hair" who were involved with Jeff Barry's productions. Others included Robin McNamara, Gayle Haness and Lilian Wong.