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Jay Black

Jay BlackAKA David Blatt

Born: 2-Nov-1938
Birthplace: New York City

Gender: Male
Religion: Jewish
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Musician, Actor

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Second "Jay" fronting Jay and the Americans

The second (and most widely-known) "Jay" to lead the pseudo-doo wop ensemble Jay and the Americans, David Blatt began his career as a singer and songwriter while still attending high school in Brooklyn. Alongside his schoolmate Marty Kupersmith (later Marty Sanders) he briefly formed The Two Chaps and recorded the songs Forgive Me and No More for Atlantic Records, before assuming the role of lead singer for high school vocal group The Empires. Concurrent with his own involvement in The Empires, friend Sanders was also doing sessions for the original line-up of Jay and the Americans -- a group that had already achieved reasonable success with the song She Cried (1962) and their version of West Side Story's Tonight (1961). After the failure of a third single (This Is It), the original lead singer John ("Jay") Traynor decided to pursue a solo career; Sanders immediately brought Blatt in to audition for the position, and he passed with ease. In order to maintain continuity with the group's name, David Blatt (having already anglicized his last name to Black) then became Jay Black.

Under the leadership of this new Jay, The Americans continued the struggle to regain their popularity, releasing two more flop singles before finally charting with Only In America (a song originally intended for The Drifters). With production duties now in the hands of Artie Ripp of Kama Sutra Records (the group's earlier material having been managed by the Leiber and Stoller songwriting team), Jay and the Americans released their biggest hit Come a Little Bit Closer in 1964, the primarily Jewish group again adopting (as had been the case with Only In America) a distinctly hispanic inflection to their delivery. Such was the success of the track that the group was chosen to open for The Beatles on their first tour of the United States. A string of well-received singles continued throughout the reaminder of the decade: Let's Lock the Door, Think of the Good Times, Cara Mia (their third top-ten entry), a remake of Some Enchanted Evening, and the Neil Diamond-penned Sunday and Me (Diamond's first songwriting hit).

By the end of the 1960s Jay and the Americans had abandoned original material and began concentrating instead on re-interpretations of earlier popular songs (Roy Orbison's Crying, The Drifters' This Magic Moment and There Goes My Baby, The Ronettes' Walking in the Rain, amongst others). The group ceased to be a recording act in 1971, but continued to perform on the "oldies circuit" under Black's leadership, the original backing members gradually opting out (two notable replacements in the early 70s being Donald Fagen and Walter Becker, who would shortly move on to found Steely Dan). A brief dalliance with acting took place in the mid-70s (Contract on Cherry Street), but throughout the subsequent decades Jay Black has managed to maintain a thriving career solely on nostalgia for the material from his group's heyday.

Son: Beau Black (musician)

    High School: Tilden High School, Brooklyn, NY

    Jay and the Americans Vocalist 1963-present

    Contract on Cherry Street (19-Nov-1977)
    Wild Wild Winter (5-Jan-1966)

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