Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Na Na, Hey Hey, Kiss Him Goodbye

Got an interesting email the other day from a guy named Joe Viglione regarding a book he's working on profiling the #1 Hit "Na Na, Hey Hey, Kiss Him Goodbye". 

The song, originally intended as a throw-away B-Side, has become one of those timeless classics from the '60's that still lives on today. (As I recall, a few years ago the Steam hit became some sort of "official state song" for Bridgeport, Connecticut ... or SOMETHING to that effect! I looked for official documentation but couldn't find any ... but I do seem to remember some discuss on this topic.)

Anyway, I was a little taken aback by the note I got ... so wanted to share it with our readers as yet another example of Forgotten Hits presenting "The Most Accurate Truth" ... as well as our commitment to help promote all of these great oldies artists and songs, no matter what the surrounding circumstances may be!  

Hello Kent,
I'm co-writing a book on Gary DeCarlo's Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye. Thanks for including the song on your one hit wonder hit list. 

#25 Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye
In the five interviews we've conducted with Gary so far I don't recall Gary ever calling this song an "embarrassment." On the contrary, Gary has always been proud of the song.

The full story will be in the upcoming book. I'm going to ask Gary how he wants the information - factually - presented and will get back to you. We'd appreciate a correction
on the SONG FACTS site.
Thank you
Joe Viglione
co-author Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye - Gary DeCarlo's Official Biography 
When Bob Reno of Mercury Records wanted to release the song as an A-side, De Carlo, Leka and Frashuer didn't want their names associated with the song, so Leka remembered the "steam" incident and used that for a group name. Ironically, De Carlo's other songs released under his name flopped while this "embarrassment" went to #1. He was so dismayed that he refused to record more Steam records; Paul Leka had to recruit other musicians to make up the group. (Thanks to Kent at the Forgotten Hits newsletter, which you can join at

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Hi Joe!
Just saw your email this morning.   
Addressing several points to hopefully help clarify a couple of things:   

The list of Top One Hit Wonders you're referring to was put together by DeeJay Rich Appel ... he counted these down as part of a special holiday weekend feature on his radio program.  All we did was reprint the list on our website with his permission.  As for the Songfacts website, I have nothing to do with that either ...  Songfacts is run by a guy named Carl Wiser.  I let him know about your comments and it's now in his hands as to whether or not to change it.  However, the quote you cited from his site WAS attributed to a feature that we ran in Forgotten Hits quite a while back, which is further explained below.  

I am happy to run any comment Gary DeCarlo might like to make regarding his current feelings toward "Na Na, Hey Hey, Kiss Him Goodbye" and promote your upcoming book in the process. However, I would stress that the "pride" you're referring to may reflect Gary's feelings at the current time, with the benefit of nearly 45 years of hindsight ... but would NOT be the way Gary has previously expressed his feelings about the song and the recording.  

In the books "The Billboard Book Of One-Hit Wonders" by Wayne Jancik and "The Billboard Book Of Number One Hits" by Fred Branson, (both used as reference for my own Forgotten Hits article), the following comments were made ... although not specifically attributed DeCarlo, this was the general consensus presented at the time these interviews took place:   

"To the surprise of all involved, the powers-that-be at the label decided to release 'Na Na' - 'an embarrassing record ... an insult' in Leka's opinion ... as the A-Side on Fontana, a Mercury subsidiary. Since no one wanted credit for creating the tune, a name for the nonexistent group had to be concocted. Gary's solo singles, which Leka and Reno had preferred to 'Na Na', were eventually issued as by Garrett Scott, but not one even charted. Paul assembled a Steam band to tour in support of the studio creation. When an album was needed, Gary was approached, but refused to return to the studios."   

Hmmm ... not sounding especially "proud" to me.   

"Hastily recorded and mixed in a single evening, 'Na Na, Hey Hey, Kiss Him Goodbye' was designed to be so inferior that disc jockeys would immediately recognize it as the B-Side it was intended to be. 'It was an embarrassing record,' Leka confided. 'Not that Gary sang it badly ... but compared to his four songs, it was an insult.' Paul consulted with Gary and Dale (Frashuer) and the three agreed that 'Na Na, Hey Hey, Kiss Him Goodbye' could come out under an assumed group name on Fontana while Gary's own singles, under his stage name of Garrett Scott, would be released on Mercury. To everyone's amazement, 'Na Na, Hey Hey, Kiss Him Goodbye" soared up the Hot 100, while all four of Gary's singles bombed. Now the label needed an album and a group who could tour under the name Steam. Unhappy at the strange turn of events that left his own records at the starting gate while "Na Na, Hey Hey' streaked to number one, Gary refused to record any more songs for a Steam album."   

Gary may have changed his tune, circa 2012, but I stand by my comments as written at the time.  

All that being said, "Na Na, Hey Hey, Kiss Him Goodbye" has certainly stood the test of time, recording fluke that it may have been. (And, growing up here in Chicago, where the song was adopted as the official theme song of The Chicago White Sox, believe me, we heard it more than most!!!) I'm still happy to issue a current statement by Gary DeCarlo and provide any advance and future press you might like for your upcoming book ... sounds like you've been doing this for a pretty long time and have some pretty impressive credentials ... as such, you really shouldn't be at all surprised by the ever-changing "factual" history of rock and roll!!!
Kent Kotal
Forgotten Hits

Hello Kent,
We've conducted three interviews, on television, with Gary.
I believe Gary when he says that everything was controlled by Leka. Gary appears to always have loved the song.
Your quote you reference is from the late Paul Leka, who appears to have had some professional jealousy towards Gary at the time.  
That being said, Gary will have the chance to tell his story. As Leka is deceased I do not want to throw rocks at him and the book will actually praise Leka for his achievements. However, I firmly believe what people are quoting is the "legend" and it is as ridiculous as Berry Gordy writing "Diana Ross presents the Jackson Five" and saying allegedly that Diana discovered them. Allegedly it was two a&r men of Gladys Knight's who brought the Jackson Five to the attention of Ms. Knight who, in turn, brought them to Motown's attention. This is via memory written in an email to you ... we can both check the facts on that, but you see my point.  
There is "industry legend" generated by those in a position of power ... then there are the real facts.
Thank you for your letter ... I will talk to Gary and get back to you.  
Happy New Year -

What's that old saying ... when the facts and the legend don't coincide, print the legend ... it's always more interesting. On that we agree.   

However, the fact that Gary didn't want to tour as Steam or participate in the recording of the album to cash in on the success of the single that he now says he loves and is proud of DOES make me just a little but suspicious.   

With Leka gone, you're right ... there's really no way to confirm, contest or rebut anything said 40+ years later ... but I'm sure you'd be the first to agree that that works both ways. I think it's great that Gary (now) embraces his past and is proud of its legacy ... who EVER would have thought that this little "throw-away" track would still be so enormously popular all these years later?!?! (Didn't I hear something a few years back that either Bridgeport or the State of Connecticut was talking about making it some sort of state song or something?!?!?)   

In either event, I am still happy to help promote the book in any way I can ... we're ALL about the music here, and doing our part to help keep it alive. Gary is luckier than most ... with radio playlists down to about 300 songs these days, at least HIS hit is one of the ones that still gets played!!! 

And, if by chance you want to send me a copy of the book, I'm happy to read and review it ... as well as convey any new information we may come across in doing so.

Here is Steam's timeless #1 Hit ...

And the track that they THOUGHT was going to put them on the map!


If Gary would like to make a current comment for our FH Readers ... or you would like to provide a couple of relevant quotes from your book on this topic, I am happy to print them as such.  In fact, I'm sure Carl Wiser of Songfacts would agree to amend his posting to reflect something along the lines of: "In 2013, Gary DeCarlo told Kent Kotal of Forgotten Hits ..." ... you get the idea. At least this would help to solidify these feelings and put them on public record.  (kk)