The Archies began their animated lives when The Archie Show debuted on Saturday morning in September of 1968. Each episode featured a song and dance segment performed by the characters. The show’s music was supervised by Don Kirshner, the man who put together the music for The Monkees. Kirshner tapped veteran pop producer Jeff Barry to put together the snappy, kid-friendly songs The Archie Show needed.
The Archies’ songs were also issued as singles. The first one, “Bang-Shang-A-Lang,” was a #22 hit on the pop charts and got the band off to a good start. But it was a song released the next year that won the animated band its biggest success. “Sugar Sugar” was an infectious tune built on rich boy-girl harmonies and a catchy instrumental hook played on the xylophone. It went to #1 in the summer of 1969, selling six million copies and knocking The Rolling Stones off the top of the charts in the process. The group also enjoyed another Top 10 hit in 1970, with "Jingle Jangle", before "bubble-gum" music gave way to disco.
The group is also notable for the singers who provided the voices of The Archies, all of whom went on to successful careers. Ron Dante, who sang all the lead vocals, went on to sing other bubblegum hits like “Tracy” and produced most of Barry Manilow’s chart successes in the seventies. Ellie Greenwich and Toni Wine, the female vocalists, enjoyed lengthy careers as a songwriter and session vocalist, respectively. Another backup singer, Andy Kim, had a #1 hit in 1974 with a solo song, “Rock Me Gently.”
Dante met Manilow while both were singing a commercial which Barry had written. The other singers on that commercial were Valerie Simpson and Melissa Manchester. Barry asked Ron to listen to some of his songs that day and the two went on to turn out some of the biggest hits of the seventies.
Some of Ron Dante's other production credits include, Cher, Ray Charles, John Denver, Dionne Warwick, Pat Benatar, Paul Schaeffer and of course, the Archies. Previously, with the Detergents in the mid-'60s, he helped take "Leader of the Laundromat" into the Top Ten. The song was a takeoff of "Leader of the Pack," sung by the Shangri-Las.
Dante also co-wrote many songs performed by the Archies, Barry Manilow, Jay & the Americans and Johnny Mathis, to name just a few and was musical producer for Disney's TV series "the Little Mermaid".
Dante can be heard singing background vocals on numerous hits including the McCoys' "Hang On Sloopy", Tommy James' "Draggin' the Line" and the Manilow hits of the '70's. His voice can also be heard on dozens of radio and TV commercials as well.
Over the years, Dante has finished producing several videos which include The Association, The Grass Roots, Mark Lindsay, Lou Christie, and Brian Hyland just to name a few. He is also involved in the development of new recording artists, as well as appearing in concert, across the United States.
These days, Dante remains active as a singer, producer and concert performer. An album, "Favorites", was issued in 1999, and another CD, "Saturday Night Blast", was released in 2004. The extended play "California Weekend" CD was released in 2006.
Dante's most recent high-profile appearance was with the CBS Orchestra on The Late Show with David Letterman on July 28, 2010.
For more, be sure to read Gary James' Interview With Ron Dante