What if I told you that these three men were responsible for at least ten different pop hits under ten different names?
Yeps. It happened and it happened a lot.
In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, it was not uncommon for an artist to add his vocals to a studio track, and then have the track released under some mysterious group name. If the song became a monster hit, then maybe that artist would go on tour with some background vocalists and some session musicians – for example, the group called “Dawn” had enough Top 40 hits that it eventually became the touring and performing group Tony Orlando and Dawn.
So who is Tony Burrows, who is Joey Levine, who is Ron Dante, and what’s going on here?
Let’s start with Burrows.
THE FLOWER POT MEN
Let’s Go To San Francisco
Taking their name from a British TV show, this was the only hit for the Flower Pot Men – with Burrows as lead vocalist.
Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)
Now this track gets a ton of radio airplay on the oldies stations, but as you can hear from the vocals, that’s Tony Burrows singing the verses and refrain.
My Baby Loves Lovin’
See, if you have the same lead vocalist but you change the name of the group, it’s almost as if it’s a different group, right? Right?
THE BROTHERHOOD OF MAN
United We Stand
At least on this record, Burrows is sharing lead vocals with someone else. The Brotherhood of Man had a couple of hits, including “Save Your Kisses For Me,” but this was their biggest hit – and yes, Burrows is on the track.
Finally, Burrows and “First Class” had a worldwide Top 40 hit with this Beach Boys-inspired single.
So now… Joey Levine. If you’ve ever enjoyed bubblegum pop music in the 1960’s, you’ve heard Levine’s work. Including…
THE THIRD RAIL
Run Run Run
This was his first hit, as a member of the vocal harmony trio The Third Rail. It did get some regional airplay, I think either WTRY or WPTR played the hell out of it back in the day.
THE OHIO EXPRESS
Yummy, Yummy, Yummy
Now this was weird. The Ohio Express was a self-contained band that did NOT have Joey Levine as lead singer; however, Levine recorded the vocals for the hit singles while the band toured. Hmm…
THE BANANA SPLITS
I Enjoy Being a Boy (In Love With You)
Several studio vocalists and artists recorded songs to complete a Banana Splits album. And sure enough, Joey Levine is on lead vocals on what was essentially the Banana Splits’ biggest-selling non-theme-song hit.
Life Is A Rock (But The Radio Rolled Me) (WRC radio version)
Yep. It’s 1970’s rap music as performed by Mr. Levine. This version was a radio-station-specific version, so it sounds a bit different than the original nationwide hit.
Okay, how about if an artist records for two different studio bands, and they both end up in the Top 10 at the same time?
It happened to studio singer Ron Dante. Sure enough, this is him on the lead vocals of this oldies classic…
THE CUFF LINKS
Which was in the Top 10 at the same time as this other Ron Dante-vocalized track… by…
And just for kicks…
If this lead vocalist sounds familiar, it’s because the singer – Tony Orlando – recorded a few songs that became hits in their own right. After recording this one-off track as “Wind,” Orlando provided the vocals for songs like “Candida” and “Knock Three Times,” and eventually that became the basis for the real-life group Tony Orlando and Dawn.
Oh yeah, one more. In the early 1960’s, Pickwick Records recorded several knockoff tracks by local musicians. Recognize the lead singer on this track? Yep. That’s Lou Reed. Yes, THAT Lou Reed.
So I hope everybody enjoyed listening to a change of pace today… right here on your hit radio station, K-Chuck Radio!