The Cuff Links
(Read about the Cuff Links after the video)
The Cuff Links were an American rock/pop studio group from Staten Island, New York. The band had a U.S. No. 9 hit in 1969 with "Tracy", with rich harmonized vocals provided entirely by Ron Dante. The track was produced as part of a series of recording sessions – sometimes as many as six in a day – by Dante, with the songs released under a variety of band names.
"Tracy" hit the charts in October 1969, just as "Sugar, Sugar," a single for The Archies and the product of another anonymous recording session by Dante, was descending from its No. 1 spot. Dante's vocals for "Tracy" were recorded in just hours. He recalled: "I put on a lead voice, doubled it a few times, and then put about 16, 18 backgrounds." "Tracy" spent 12 weeks in the U.S. chart, and subsequently sold over one million copies, being awarded a gold record by the R.I.A.A.
Dante had promised "Tracy's" songwriters, Paul Vance and Lee Pockriss, that if the song was a hit he would record an entire Cuff Links album; when it charted, Vance and Pockriss quickly delved through their catalogue to produce more songs. "It was the quickest album I'd ever done," Dante remarked. "I think I did the entire background vocals and leads in a day and a half – for the entire album. I remember doing at least four or five songs in one day." To speed the project, Vance and Pockriss hired novice arranger Rupert Holmes to work on the album, which was also titled Tracy and included the second hit, "When Julie Comes Around," which peaked at No. 41 in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and No. 10 in the UK Singles Chart. The album liner notes wove a tale of how Vance and Pockriss discovered the "seven-member" group (which according to the same notes later swelled to a nine-person group), but did not name any group members, or show any pictures of the supposed band. Instead, the album featured an unnamed cover model.
As the album was being completed, Vance and Pockriss created a seven-member touring band, comprising Pat Rizzo (saxophone), Rich Dimino (keyboards), Bob Gill (trumpet/flugelhorn/flute), Dave Lavender (guitar), Andrew "Junior" Denno (bass), Joe Cord (vocals) and Danny Valentine (drums).
Dante opted not to tour with the group, having accepted a solo album recording contract by Archies creator Don Kirshner that excluded any more outside work. When he called Vance to obtain his royalties for the first album, Vance refused to pay up unless Dante recorded a second album. The dispute was settled only after a personal confrontation at Vance's office.
For the second Cuff Links album, Vance and Pockriss remained as producers, and vocals were split between Joey Cord and Rupert Holmes. "Run Sally Run," the album's first single, was the third and last Cuff Links single to reach the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at No. 76 in April 1970. Follow-up single "Robin's World" appeared on the Billboard Easy Listening Top 40 the following June. Cord's vocals appeared on only a few tracks on the second Cuff Links album, The Cuff Links, with most songs featuring Holmes. Meanwhile, the album's liner notes once again talked about the Cuff Links as a nine-member group, though only seven people were pictured on the album cover, and none of the group members were identified by name.
The Cuff Links issued a final non-LP (and non-charting) single for Decca in 1971, titled All Because Of You. The Cuff Links name was later revived for unsuccessful singles on the Atco and Roulette labels in 1972 and 1975. Both sides of every Cuff Links single were written and produced by Vance and Pockriss.
In 1999, singer-songwriter Michael "Valentine" Ubriaco obtained the touring rights to the Cuff Links name, and revived the group for live performances. That band included original guitarist Dave Lavender and still went on tours as of late July of 2016.