Jay and the Americans’ Jay Black Dead at 82
Jay Black, who fronted pop-rock group Jay and the Americans from 1963 to 1973, died at the age of 82, his family confirmed.
The band’s second lead vocalist, he was heard on their ‘60s hits “Come A Little Bit Closer,” “Cara Mia” and “This Magic Moment.” Becoming known as “The Voice” for his notable range, he fronted the group when they opened the Beatles’ first U.S. show in 1964, and when they split nine years later, he launched a solo career under the band name and continued performing until 2017. Walter Becker and Donald Fagen were both members of the group before finding success in Steely Dan.
Confirming Black – real name David Blatt – had died of pneumonia and had also been suffering from dementia, his family said in a statement: “New and old fans continued to marvel at the strength and range of Black’s voice through his last concert… He had a special bond with his fans who flocked to his annual sold-out shows at The Westbury Music Fair. He thought of them as family, knew many of their names, and would dedicate songs to them from the stage and meet with them after the show.”
Watch Jay and the Americans’ ‘Cara Mia’
In 2006 Black was forced by the IRS to sell the rights to the Jay and the Americans name to clear a tax debt. It was purchased by original band members, who began making use of it while the singer toured as Jay Black The Voice. “[W]e acknowledge the great successes we had with him both as a partner and as a lead singer,” the Americans lineup said in their own statement. “We shared both wonderful and very contentious times, and much like an ex-wife, we are so proud of the beautiful children we created. We’ll always remember The Voice.”
“I was a bad kid. I was a wise guy,” Black said in a 2014 interview. “When I graduated from eighth grade, I was the class comedian. I was always a troublemaker.” He reflected on his ‘60s success as a “really nice” experience, but added: “The big thing is when you have a big hit you work a lot and you make a lot of money. But I was always a gambler and I pissed away everything. I never saved my money. I helped a lot of people. I helped my family, but I really screwed up my money.”