Jay Black, aka David Blatt, was born into a religious Jewish family in New York. His first public appearance was in a temple choir in Borough Park, but he was destined for a different stage.
He was singing with a doo-wop group, The Empires, when he got word that Jay Traynor, the original lead singer of Jay and the Americans, was leaving the group. When he joined, he became “Jay” (for obvious reason) and when Mike Douglas misunderstood his last name, he became Jay Black. The group had only had one Top Ten song, She Cried, but with Black, they scored with a string of hits like Come A Little Bit Closer, Only in America (which was originally meant for The Drifters) and Jay’s signature song, Cara Mia, along with a radio spot for H.I.S. jeans, that every 60’s kid heard on the radio hundreds of times. They also opened for the Beatles first US concert in Washington, DC and almost opened for The Rolling Stones (we’ll let him explain that).
After the group broke up in 1973, Jay continued to perform as Jay and the Americans until 2006, when the IRS seized his ownership of the group name for back taxes, and sold it to his former band member Sandy Yaguda. Jay continued to perform as Jay Black: The Voice until his retirement a few years ago. Jay’s shows were a combination of music and comedy and we got some of both when we met him back in the 80’s in one of our favorite interviews from the archives.