John "Jay" Traynor, who was born in Albany, New York, was lead vocalist of The Mystics, replacing Paul Simon who left to "pursue other projects," (such as Simon and Garfunkle.)
On May 11, 1960, The Mystics with Jay Traynor on lead recorded "White Cliffs Of Dover," "Blue Star" and "Over The Rainbow" at RCA Studios. Jay left to form Jay and the Americans. Other original members were Howard Kane (né Kirschenbaum), Kenny Vance (né Rosenberg) and Sandy Deanne (né Yaguda).
Jay and the Americans were discovered while performing in student venues at New York University in the late 1950s. They auditioned for Leiber and Stoller, who gave the group its name. In the manner of the time, Leiber and Stoller wanted to extend this to "Binky Jones and the Americans," but Traynor declined to be known as Binky Jones his whole career. He instead offered up "Jay," a family nickname, and it suited everyone.
With Jay Traynor singing lead, they first hit the Billboard charts in 1962 with the tune "She Cried," which reached #5 and was later covered by The Shangri-Las, Aerosmith, and others. The next two singles didn't fare nearly as well, and Traynor left the group.
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Jay's solo singles made little impression, and name on the label was denoted as "JAY ... formerly of Jay & the Americans." One of his records, "Up And Over" issued on ABC in 1966 since became Northern Soul classic. (Northern Soul was a music and dance movement that emerged from the British mod scene, initially in northern England in the late 1960s.)
Jay and the Americans greatest success on the charts came after Traynor had been replaced as lead singer by Jay Black (David Blatt.) The group split in 1973 and was inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2002.
Traynor now tours with Jay Siegel's Tokens ("The Lion Sleeps Tonight.") Jay Siegel was one of the early members of the Tokens along with Neil Sedaka. Jay Traynor sings "She Cried" at every show.