Jay Black, frontman of the ’60s rock band Jay and the Americans, has died at the age of 82. Black’s family confirmed that Black passed away on Friday (October 22) due to complications from pneumonia. Black also suffered from dementia.
Jay Black was born David Blatt in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Borough Park and earned the nickname ‘The Voice’ due to his vocal range. He was the second Jay to lead Jay and the Americans, joining the band in 1962 after the departure of their original singer John ‘Jay’ Traynor. After landing a deal with United Artists Records, the group scored a number of hits with Jay in the lead in the 1960s, including ‘Only in America’, ‘Come a Little Bit Closer’, ‘Cara Mia’, ‘This Magic Moment’, and ‘Walkin’ In The Rain’, with a total of 21 songs making the charts.
Jay and the Americans notably served as the opening act for the Beatles’ first US performance in 1964 in Washington, D.C. They also appeared on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, The Mike Douglas Show, and The Merv Griffin Show. Though the group’s members split in 1973 to pursue solo projects, Black would continue to perform as Jay and the Americans with a rotating cast of musicians. His final performance took place in 2017.
“New and old fans continued to marvel at the strength and range of Black’s voice through his last concert in 2017,” Black’s family said in a statement (via Rolling Stone). “Appearing mostly in the tri-state area and Florida, Black’s concerts were heavily attended and mostly sold out. 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.”
Black is survived by his four children, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.