Jay and the Americans, a group that recorded an unprecedented 12 Top 10 records between 1962 and 1971 and was inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2002, will appear Wednesday evening at the Grand Sierra Resort.
“We went to Reno last year for Hot August Nights,” founding member Sandy Deanne said Wednesday in a phone interview. “We were blown away … Hot August Nights is a hot number and we were excited when they booked us back.”
Deanne said members of Jay and the Americans enjoyed Reno’s premier car show event, in part, because the featured classic cars are the models they drove in their younger days.
“We drove those cars when they were new, before they were all refurbished,” Deanne said.
Jay and the Americans first hit the Billboard charts in 1962 with “She Cried” with John “Jay” Traynor on vocals, and band members Deanne, Howie Kane and Marty Sanders. After the release of their second album, Traynor embarked on a solo career and Jay and the Americans enlisted a new lead singer, David Blatt.
Blatt became known as “Jay 2” or “Jay Black,” and the group went on to record hit songs familiar to almost everyone, including “Only In America,” “Come a Little Bit Closer,” “Cara Mia,” “Sunday and Me” and “This Magic Moment.” In 1974, after achieving great success on the music charts, Jay and the Americans disbanded.
Five years ago, the band got back together with a third “Jay” on lead vocals, Jay Reincke. Jay and the Americans did not know what to expect from fans after a more than 30-year hiatus, but Deanne said the group was pleasantly surprised at the reception it received.
“When we came back and reformed this, we just didn’t know what was going to happen,” Deanne said. “The response from the fans has been incredible.”
The band has released two new CDs since its reformation, and a third currently is being pressed, Deanne said.
“We’ve redone all the Jay and the Americans hits with Jay 3 and we have recorded some new material,” Deanne said. “There are 30-some songs.”
Reinke said he is fortunate to be a part of a band that he grew up listening to.
“I’m the newcomer,” Reinke, who was 11 years old in 1965 when Jay and The Americans were getting a lot of radio play, said Wednesday in a phone interview. “But I remember very much loving these songs.”
During the five years Reinke has been with the band, he said the three founding members have become “older brothers” to him, and have introduced him to music legends.
“After five years, they have become my friends,” Reinke said of the people he has met through Jay and the Americans.
Deanne said he views the longevity of Jay and the Americans as the band’s greatest success, and is proud to report that everyone who has ever been a part of the group is still alive and making music.
“There have been seven total members,” Deanne said. “They’re all alive and performing and I think that is a testimony to the talent that has gone in and out of this band.”
All seven former and current members have been in the music industry for 50 years or more, he said.
“That’s pretty incredible because the law of averages says that we probably shouldn’t all be around,” Deanne said, adding that all the men try to eat healthily and exercise.
In the beginning, the music Jay and the Americans recorded was largely dictated by the record label, Deanne said. But these days, the band dictates what songs get recorded.
“We do it now to please ourselves,” Deanne said.
The attitude toward the fans and the touring lifestyle has changed as the band members have gotten older too, he said.
“We’re not out partying after the shows like we used to,” Deanne said. “Now we actually remember what city we were in the night before and we go out sightseeing and taking pictures.”
Deanne said he can’t wait to return to Reno, and that the band plans to arrive early to take in the sights and sounds of the Hot August Nights event.
“We’ll be here hanging out,” he said.
Jay and the Americans will perform a free concert at 8:15 p.m. Wednesday on the outdoor stage at the Grand Sierra Resort.