The rest of the world’s music lovers are writing about New York lyricist Hal David who died yesterday. I am writing about three other New York musical giants. Jay Siegel, Jay Traynor and Larry Chance, doo wop singers from the 1950s who yesterday performed at the Westhampton Theater, Long Island. Larry Chance and the Earls had a hit with Remember Then while Jay Siegel is the falsetto voice you know from The Lion Sleeps Tonight. Jay Traynor (now part of the Tokens with the other Jay) had a hit with She Cried when he was with the Americans. He was also once a Mystic. Various others on stage had helped put the bop in the bop shoo wop and a spring in the step of the Chiffons.
Larry has had a bad bout with throat cancer and so now supplements his singing with an old fashioned variety act. He was like an embarrassing uncle at Christmas. Chris was glad we were safely in the gallery and not in the orchestra stalls where Larry could have obliged us to join the floor show. Siegal, also in his seventies, was sexy, sleek and still seemed to enjoy himself on stage. Joanne and I thought he looked like a wrinkled Henry Winkler. Mike thought he looked more like a bank manager. Let’s hope he is good with money–as a producer he helped the Chiffons sell more than one million copies of One Fine Day and He’s So Fine. He produced Tie A Yellow Ribbon for Tony Orlando and of course the Lion went to Number One in 36 countries in 1961. Siegel still has all the moves and hit all the high notes. The Tokens were founded in 1955 by Neil Sedaka, then at high school with Jay Siegel near Brighton Beach, NY. Everyone in the audience –bar us–could remember 1955. “We could do well here” I told Rosie as we made our way to the exit, moving among a lot of bald men in beachwear “They’ll think we look very young for our age”. We’ve all been singing Wimoweh ever since.