Kenny Vance

Pop | 2008

Kenny Vance grew up in Belle Harbor, Queens, where as a teen he developed an interest in rock and roll, particularly doo-wop. By the time he was 15 years old, he was traveling back and forth to Manhattan’s Brill Building, meeting and befriending other singers and songwriters. In 1961, Vance formed Jay and The Americans, along with Jay Traynor, Howard Kane, and Sandy Deanne. The band recorded 15 albums, toured extensively—opening for The Beatles and The Rolling Stones during each of their first U.S. performances—and scored hit records such as “She Cried,” “Only in America,” “Come a Little Bit Closer,” and “This Magic Moment.” Vance remained with Jay and The Americans until the early 1970s when he launched a solo career; he produced the first sessions by Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, who became the legendary Steely Dan. Soon, Vance began to compose, supervise, and produce a long list of scores and soundtracks for feature films and television. Most notably, Vance provided the music for the film American Hot Wax, and also formed a fiction band, The Planotones, for the film. In 1992, Vance would go on to form Kenny Vance and the Planotones, a band that continues touring today. As exemplified by the group’s signature song, “Looking for an Echo,” their material is influenced by the music of the 1950s and 1960s.

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