by Suzanne Cadgene, John Kuroski and Lee Zimmerman
Photos: The Beatles: Library of Congress; The Supremes: Motown Records Archives; Jay And The Americans: Courtesy of; The Zombies: Courtesy of Rod Argent.
Doo wop legend Kenny Vance, now of Kenny Vance and the Planetones, then with Jay and the Americans, started his career in the Brill Building. “I think it all started in 1964,” Vance said. “When I would go to Tin Pan Alley or the Brill Building, it was a different kind of songwriter: Doc Pomus, Carole King, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller—they were connected to an older consciousness of what a hit record was. I had one foot over here and one foot over there. I was in the Village; I played with the Beatles and the Stones, but I was from the older world.”
Jay and the Americans opened for both the Beatles and the Rolling Stones on each of those bands’ first trips to America in 1964. “Mid-February 1964, we took the train down to Washington, D.C., and we walk in and the Beatles were sitting at a dais, being interviewed by reporters,” said Vance. “I’d never seen anything like it, because in rock, up to this point, nobody gave a shit about Little Richard or the Flamingos or the Moonglows or interviewed any of those people.