Jay Traynor, the original lead singer for Jay and the Americans , died Thursday in a Tampa, Florida, hospital after a long battle with liver cancer. He was 69. His death was confirmed to ABC News Radio by Traynor's good friend and colleague Jay Siegel of The Tokens , who is acting as a family spokesperson.
Traynor, who was originally a member of the group The Mystics , formed Jay and the Americans in the late 1950s. Their first big hit, "She Cried," reached #5 in 1962, but Traynor left the group when additional hits failed to materialize. He subsequently started a solo career, and also worked at an upstate New York TV station, and behind-the-scenes in the music industry. For the past eight years, he had been singing with The Tokens, best known for their hit "The Lion Sleeps Tonight."
"He was a pro...he was very versatile in his vocal style, from rock and roll to Frank Sinatra ," Siegel tells ABC News Radio. "His demeanor and his look were a perfect fit for my group...he just did a great job onstage and more than that, he did a great job offstage. He was a true gentleman, a very humble guy and I considered him like my brother. He was a great talent and a good friend."
After Traynor left Jay and the Americans, he was replaced by David Black , who adopted the name Jay Black. The group went on to score hits like "Come a Little Bit Closer," "Cara Mia" and "This Magic Moment."
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