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Jay Traynor, Original "Jay" of Jay and the Americans, Dead at 69

JaySiegelandtheTokens.comJay 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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ABC News Radio