Here’s a song that didn’t make the charts when it was released, but it’s widely known among doo-wop lovers today. The original version of Looking For An Echo by Kenny Vance And The Planotones was issued on Atlantic 3259 in 1975.
Growing up in New York City, Kenny was captivated by Rock n’ Roll and group harmony music. You’d see him hanging around the famous Brill Building at 1619 Broadway (at 49th Street) meeting other singers and songwriters. Eventually, he made enough connections to put together a successful group, which we now know as Jay And The Americans. What a group it was, too! They toured with The Beatles and The Rolling Stones for each of their first performances in the USA. They also recorded fifteen albums. Kenny remained a member of Jay And The Americans throughout their 11-year run. He also helped launch the career of a young Walter Becker and Donald Fagen and their little group known as Steely Dan. If you’ve ever seen the early Richard Pryor movie You’ve Got to Walk It Like You Talk It or You’ll Lose That Beat from 1971, the soundtrack was done by Steely Dan and produced by Kenny Vance. Kenny went on to compose and produce a huge list of scores and soundtracks for both movies and television. He also put together the music for the Alan Freed story, American Hot Wax, which revived the group harmonies of the 1950’s and early 1960’s. The Planotones were actually put together for the movie. Kenny was also the musical director for Saturday Night Live and music supervisor for the movie Animal House, Eddie And The Cruisers, and Looking For An Echo. Kenny himself appears as an actor in several movies, including Hurly Burly, Billy Bathgate, American Hot Wax, Eddie And The Cruisers, and some Woody Allen flicks.
Now here’s something few people know! Listen to the opening of this song and compare it to the opening of Looking For An Echo. This is called Turnaround by the Half-Tones and it was released on Twilight 3476 in 1964. Copies of this single fetch at least $100 today!