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Ron Dante

Ron Dante in 1970
Ron Dante in 1970

Ron Dante today
Ron Dante today

Artist Profile:
Ron Dante (of The Archies and The Cuff Links)

Ron Dante was born in Staten Island, NY. He became interested in music at a very young age, influenced by his dad, who constantly sang around the house. The mid-Fifties brought rock and roll and, with it, a new kind of excitement to the adolescent's life. Like scores of others, Ron idolized rock pioneers such as Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and so on. The bass singer for a group called The Elegants ("Little Star") happened to work for Ron's dad, and one fortuitous evening he took the boy to an Alan Freed rock and roll show, then backstage to meet his idols in person. If Ron had had any doubts about entering the music business before, they left him that day and never returned.
 
Around this time, the eleven-year-old fell out of a tree and badly broke his arm, damaging the growing bone. The doctor suggested carrying a rubber ball around and squeezing it as a way of strengthening his arm and ensuring that it would grow along with the rest of him. Ron wasn't crazy about that idea, but he liked the alternative one ... take up the guitar! Seizing upon the perfect opportunity to make lemonade out of lemons, the adolescent learned the instrument, eventually mastering it enough to form a band, The Persuaders, with some chums. The group played at local dances and clubs; that is, when the accident-prone boy wasn't busy breaking other bones in his body!
 
Ron was still using the name Ronnie Dante when he began making the rounds at the Brill Building in New York City's famed Tin Pan Alley, guitar in hand, offering to play and sing for anyone who would listen. In time he became a session singer, doing backgrounds for established talent such as Neil Sedaka. During 1963 and 1964 he recorded several singles as a solo artist, but due to a strange new phenomenom called "Beatlemania" sweeping the land, those records never became the hits they could have.
 

In 1964, Ronnie fell in with the successful songwriting team of Paul Vance and Lee Pockriss ("Catch a Falling Star," "Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka-Dot Bikini"), who'd just written a hilarious parody of the current Shangri-La's hit "Leader of the Pack." It was called "Leader of the Laundromat." Ronnie joined Danny Jordan and Tommy Wynn as the Detergents, recording a whole album's worth of parody songs and touring the country with Dick Clark's Caravan of Stars. Ronnie had a blast that summer, meeting other stars and honing his performing skills.

During subsequent years, Ronnie (who by this time had shortened his name to Ron) Dante was making a name for himself doing jingle work; that is, singing commercial jingles for television and radio. In 1968, Don Kirshner, whom Ron knew from his old Brill Building days, was tapped as music supervisor for an upcoming Saturday-morning cartoon, The Archie Show. A decision had been made to create a rock band out of the show's five principal characters (Archie, Betty, Veronica, Reggie and Jughead), and to this end Don was searching for someone to be the lead voice of the group. Ron auditioned and got the part. Along with songwriter-producer Jeff Barry, Ron would eventually crank out more than a hundred songs, doing the lead on all and the backgrounds on most. Other singers on the Archies sessions (Toni Wine, Donna Marie) would come and go, but Ron would remain the constant presence for the group's nearly three-year career. When The Archies' third single, "Sugar, Sugar," became the #1 hit of 1969, Ron knew that his position in music history was solidified.

Also during 1969, Ron was approached by his old collaborators, the songwriting team of Vance/Pockriss, who asked Ron to record some new songs they had written. The result was an entire album's worth of material, with Ron doing both the lead and background vocals. The songs were released under the name "The Cuff Links," and the album's title track, "Tracy," made it into the Top Ten on the U.S. charts at the same time that The Archies' "Sugar, Sugar" was Number One. A decision was made to put together a real-live group of Cuff Links, but by this time Ron was involved in other projects and unable to tour with a group, so seven other guys banded together as The Cuff Links and picked up the baton.

In 1970, Ron released his first solo album, Ron Dante Brings You Up. The titular song was an upbeat number penned by "Sugar, Sugar" songwriters Jeff Barry and Andy Kim called "Let Me Bring You Up." During 1971, Ron recorded the lovely "That's What Life is All About," co-written by his Archies partner Toni Wine along with Irwin Levine (the duo also wrote the song "Candida," a hit for Dawn). The Archies were on their way out by this time, and Ron was setting his sights to the future. In 1972, he did the singing voice of Spiderman on the Webspinners LP, and from 1972-74 he provided lead vocals for another Don Kirshner-produced cartoon group, The Chan Clan (spawned from the Hanna-Barbera show "Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan").

One day, while in the studio working on a commercial jingle, Ron met a young singer-songwriter who had been working as Bette Midler's pianist and arranger. Ron thought highly of this talented young man and offered to produce him if he would consider recording under his own name. Consider it he did, and Ron went on to produce Barry Manilow's first ten albums, all huge successes. Ron would go on to produce sessions for other singers, such as Cher and Irene Cara, as well as stage plays including Ain't Misbehavin'.
 
During the past few years, Ron has picked up the singing career he briefly put on hold during his producing years. He has released several solo CDs since 1999, including Favorites, Saturday Night Blast, and California Weekend. Ron moved to Los Angeles in the early 90's and today is busy touring, recording and working on the business end of his chosen craft.
 
 
 
Links:
 
Ron Dante Online - The Official Site
Ron Dante on Facebook
Ron's Twitter profile
Visit Ron on MySpace!
Laura's Ron Dante Fan Pages (my artist-approved fan site)
Ron Dante Remembers The Sixties (also on Spectropop)
 
 
See Also:
 
My Ron Dante YouTube playlist

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For more on Ron's incredible career, check out "Ron Dante in His Own Words" right here on Oldies Connection.

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