Laura. You probably know me from my flagship website, Laura's Ron Dante Fan Pages, or perhaps you stop by Oldies Connection or Classic Pop Music Concert Pix from time to time. Maybe you've come across me on a couple of the various Yahoo
communities that I manage and/or visit. I'm all over the Web, a process that began with the Ron Dante fansite in early
2001 and evolved from there. In 2004, with much fanfare, I proudly unveiled the site that you are now visiting - Jeff
Barry: The Man and His Music. Although with hindsight I realize that the title I chose for the site could've been a
little more original, Jeff Barry himself is a real original. The man is an enormously gifted songwriter and producer,
and his music is recognized instantly around the world, by people of all races, religions, and cultures, and from the very
young to the very old. As a talent and as a person, Jeff is one of a kind.
I first became a
Jeff Barry fan in 1968. I was nine years old, and The Archie Show had just debuted on CBS Saturday mornings. I
loved The Archies and the great music I could always look forward to every week - from the show's theme song ("Everything's
Archie") to the Dance of the Week to the brand-new full-length tune that followed each Dance. I was hooked! When
the group's self-titled LP hit the streets, I was first in line for a copy. Reading the credits on the album jacket
(yup, even at age ten I read credits), I learned that the music had been produced, and most of the LP's twelve tracks composed,
by someone named Jeff Barry. Although Jeff had by this time been a major force in pop music for almost a decade, I hadn't
heard of him before now because most of my childhood had been spent idolizing The Beatles. Now The Archies and Jeff
took their place as my favorites.
Once I knew Jeff's
name, I began seeing it in other places besides on The Archies' records. For instance, I adored "Baby, I Love You" and
"Be My Baby" by a singer named Andy Kim, and I was pleasantly surprised to find out that both these tracks had been written
and produced by Jeff. In 1970, two of my favorite songs were "Montego Bay" and "Lay a Little Lovin' On Me," by Bobby
Bloom and Robin McNamara, respectively. Soon I discovered that Jeff had co-written and produced these
records as well. It seemed to me that whenever I heard a song I really loved, as opposed to one I just liked, the name
Jeff Barry would pop up as its composer, producer, or both.
Over the next
few years, as I blossomed (more or less) into adolescence and then into my teens, Jeff’s career was continuing to do
some blossoming of its own. As both songwriter and producer, in 1969, he had a massive worldwide hit with "Sugar, Sugar."
In the meantime, while continuing to enjoy The Archies’ songs and records, I was gradually learning more about Jeff’s
pre-Archies career. I found that he had produced one of my favorite recordings, The Monkees’ "I’m a Believer,"
in late 1966 and prior to this had done a lot of work with girl groups; I was mildly surprised to learn that both "Be My Baby"
and "Baby, I Love You" had originally been recorded by The Ronettes a few years before Andy Kim had hits with them.
(Hey, how could I have known? I was only five at the time!) When I was in my mid-teens, I purchased a used copy
of the single "Tell Laura I Love Her" by Ray Peterson, because I was curious to hear what this song with my name in the
title sounded like, and saw Jeff’s name on the label. Much later I’d find out that this was his first hit
as a songwriter.
During these years,
Jeff moved from New York to Los Angeles and made the transition into composing music for TV and movies. Two of my favorite
TV theme songs were (and remain) "Movin’ On Up," from The Jeffersons, and "One Day At A Time." It came as no surprise
to learn that Jeff had written these as well, because by now I’d pretty much realized that if I really loved a song,
the odds were good that Jeff’s name would be attached to it somewhere.
In late 2002, Jeff
Barry and I began corresponding by email, and the following year, as the result of trying to come up with an idea for a Christmas
present for him, this website was born. The prototype quietly went online in December of 2003, and the decision was
soon made to unveil it to the world. After a little bit of tweaking, Jeff Barry: The Man and His Music was officially
launched in February of 2004.
As web sites do, this one has continued to change
and grow since it was first presented to the world. Running the site has been a labor of love for me from day one.
During the past few years, I've learned so much about Jeff Barry's remarkable career - his longevity, his versatility, and
the many facets of his talents. Jeff is an inventor at heart, and over the past five decades he has brought his ingenuity
into the studio with him on several occasions and shown the world that there's more than one way to make a record,
whether it be his thumping the side of a trash can with a mallet to obtain just the right percussive sound or recording
a track one instrument at a time to enjoy the cleanest result possible.
Jeff and I finally met personally in November of 2005,
and I was struck at his warmth and kindness, not to mention his wit, his genius, and his generosity of spirit.
He carries himself well (all six feet, four inches of himself!) and is a soft-spoken, classy gentleman who seems down-to-earth
and oddly unaffected by his successes. His humility is refreshing.
Jeff Barry is too close to it to see it, but he has
truly made a difference in the world. He's a good person. His place in musical history is solid and indisputable,
and his songs have made our planet a much brighter, happier place. Jeff, thanks for making a difference in my life,
as well as those of so many, many other people - and thanks for naming your first hit song after me.