Jay & The Americans debuted in the Top 40 in 1962 with the song “She Cried,” the first of four Top 10 hits for the vocal group and the only big hit sung by John “Jay” Traynor, who passed away in 2014. The first “Jay” left the group in 1963, due to a desire to not tour, as he had done in the early days of The Mystics in the prior decade. Auditions were held and David Blatt, who passed away on October 22 at age 82, became the second “Jay” for the group, and was known as Jay Black. The group rebounded with the Top 40 hit “Only in America,” written by a combination of the songwriting teams Leiber and Stoller and Mann and Weil. The following year the group returned to the Top 10 with “Come a Little Bit Closer,” written by Tommy Boyce, Bobby Hart and Wes Farrell.
1965’s Top 10 single “Cara Mia” earned Jay Black the nickname of “The Voice” among his fellow Americans. By mid-summer of 1966, Jay & The Americans departed from the Top 40 but made a tremendous comeback on January 25, 1969 with “This Magic Moment,” which had previously reached No. 16 at the beginning of the decade for The Drifters. Jay & The Americans’ version reached No. 6 and became their sole gold single. That updated nostalgic approach continued with their final Top 40 entry, “Walkin’ in the Rain,” which previously reached No. 23 for The Ronettes in 1964 and reached No. 19 in early 1970 for Jay & The Americans. The flip side was an original composition, which was included on the group’s next album Capture the Moment, called “(I’d Kill) For the Love of a Lady,” a song with a steady bounce and a country instrumentation backdrop, written by Jay Black along with the group’s Sandy Yaguda, now known as Sandy Deanne, along with their producer Thomas Jefferson Kaye. The 1970 album Capture the Moment was filled with a dozen original compositions and is considered a classic among Jay & The American fans.
Jay & The Americans
Flip side: (I’d Kill) For the Love of a Lady
A side: Walkin’ in the Rain
Billboard Top 100 debut: November 22, 1969
Peak position: No. 19
United Artists 50605
Jay Black was in the Top 100 for a final time in 1980 with the smooth ballad “The Part of Me That Needs You Most,” written by the pop writing duo Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn who provided Suzi Quatro and The Knack with hit singles in the 1970s.
Jay & The Americans are currently on tour with the powerful third “Jay,” Jay Reincke, along with the original Americans Sandy Deanne, Marty Sanders and Howie Kane, who stated, “We mourn David Blatt's passing and acknowledge the great successes we had with him both as a partner and as a lead singer. We’ll always remember ‘The Voice.’”