• From top : Kenny Vance, Howie Kane, Sandy Yaguda and Jay Traynor.

    Jay & The Americans (New York)
    (The Early Years)


    Personnel :

    John "Jay" Traynor (Lead)

    Howard "Kane" Kirschenbau"

    Kenny "Vance" Rosenberg

    Sandy "Deanne" Yaguda


    Discography :

    Singles :
    1961 - Tonight / The Other Girls (United Artists 353)
    1962 - Tonight / She Cried  (United Artists 1603)
    1962 - She Cried / Dawning (United Artists 415)
    1962 - This Is It / It's My Turn To Cry (United Artists 479)

    LPs :
    1962 - She Cried  (UAL-3222 Mono/UAS-6222 Stereo)
    Drums / Kansas City / My Clair De Lune / Save The Last Dance For Me / Dawning / She Cried / Yes / Stand By Me / Moon River / Tonight / The Other Girls / Spanish Harlem



    Biography :

    Six high school classmates from the Belle Harbor neighborhood on Long Island formed the Harbor Lites, named after their neighborhood, in 1959. Among the six were Kenny Vance (nee Rosenberg, December 9, 1943), Sandy Yaguda (born January 30, 1943) and Sydell Sherman. Also living in the neighborhood was Irving Feldman, owner of Ivy Records. They sought out Feldman for an audition, but were turned away after being told they needed more practice. At that time the other three members left. After a few months of practice, they auditioned for Feldman again and were signed.

    Jay & The Americans
    L to R Mike Stoller, Jay Traynor, Howie Kane, Kenny Vance,Jerry Leiber, Danny Kessler (first manager) & Sandy Deanne.

    In April 1960, their first single "Is it To Much To Ask" was released. It might have come out on Ivy, but was soon purchased by Jaro a small label run by the J. Arthur Rank Organization, a huge British entertainment complex. With help from New York deejay Cousin Brucie it became a minor hit locally. Rank soon closed Jaro to concentrate on releases by its Top Rank subsidiary and the Harbor Lites were dropped. In 1960, the groups other single "Tick-a Tick-a Toc," which may have been released briefly by Jaro, came out on Mala label, a struggling, medium size New York company.

    Sandy Yaguda,  Howie Kane, Kenny Vance, and Jay Traynor.

    Jay Traynor picked up a manager in Jim Gribble. Gribble had handled several groups in the area, including the Classics, the Fiestas, the Passions, a young Paul Simon as well as the Mystics.. The Mystics had a big hit with "Hushabye" in the summer of 1959. Their lead singer, Phil Cracolici, was forced to drop out and Jay Traynor was brought in. He joined with some guys from Queens to form the Ab-Tones. The Traynors moved to the Baybridge section of Brooklyn after being introduced to Jim Gribble. At a Clay Cole Record hop, Traynor met Vance. and Yaguda in Gribble's office and the three decided to form their own group. An old friend from Flatbush, Howard Kane (nee Kirschenbaum) was added.

    In 1960, the group auditioned for Terry Phillips, a Belle Harbor songwriter and producer for Golden Records. With his connections, Phillips got them an audition with Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. Leiber and Stoller decided to sign the group, had second thoughts and didn't. Upon learning that the group wasn't being signed Vance's mother ordered her son to go back, give Leiber and Stoller a piece of his mind and tell them they must live up to their agreement. Shocked, but pleasantly surprised they signed the boys to a contract. Leiber and Stoller built on the group's natural doo wop ability attempted to broaden their appeal by emphasizing Traynor's lead and the pop flavor of the sound. United Artists decided to rename the group Binky Jones and the Americans. A compromise changed it to Jay and the Americans.


    The big movie at the time was Westside Story, in which United Artists had a stake. The record division needed some artists to record songs from the film and Jay and the Americans were given "Tonight." In the late summer of 1961, the group cut "Tonight" at its first United Artist recording session. At the same time two other U.A. acts, Ralph Marterie and Ferante and Teicher, also recorded "Tonight."  Though most of the promotion money was spent on the two better known acts, the single sold 40,00 copies in the New York area.

    Jay & The Americans
    Kenny Vance, Jay Traynor, Dick Clark, Howie Kane and Sandy Yaguda

    The second single "She Cried" headed straight up the charts and reached #5 in the spring and early summer of 1962. The next single "This Is It" charted but was not the hit that everyone expected. At this time Traynor decided to leave to pursue a solo career that began in 1963 with Coral Records. His first single "How Sweet It Is" was a minor hit in Japan. His last last single "The Merry Go Round Is Slowing Down" recorded three years later for ABC-Paramount Records was a Northern Soul hit in the UK.

    Meanwhile, David Blatt (who called himself David Black, born November 2, 1938) and Marty Sanders (Born February 28, 1941) were also trying to record on the Ivy label. They recorded :Forgive Me" on the Atlantic label as the Two Chaps. Then in the spring of 1962, they sang with the Empires from Tilden High in Brooklyn, on the Epic label release of "Time and a Place." Marty was also playing guitar for Jay and the American sessions. While working on their album he asked to become a member.


    Songs :

    Tonight                            The Other Girls                           She Cried

    Dawning                               This Is It                               It's My Turn To Cry

    Tomorrow                               Yes                                           Drums

                 Kansas City                       My Clair De Lune          Save The Last Dance For Me

      Stand By Me                          Moon River                               Spanish Harlem


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