Gary DeCarlo & Heat take the stage at Bridgeport’s Downtown Cabaret Theatre with opening act, The Walter Lewis Blues Trio, on Saturday, Sept. 29, at 7:30 p.m. DeCarlo lives in Shelton.
It will been 43 years this December since “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” went to No. 1. DeCarlo is emphatic when he says, “I feel as though I have been in hibernation and it’s finally time to come out and show everyone that I sang the lead vocal on ‘Na Na.’ There are many stories on the Internet, which are not true. I would like to set the record straight and perform with my band, Heat.”
Some of those stories are based on the following information. Paul Leka, DeCarlo and Dale Frashuer wrote a version of “Kiss Him Goodbye” in the early 1960s when they were members of Bridgeport band, The Chateaus, which later disbanded. With Leka as producer, DeCarlo recorded several singles for Mercury Records. The singles impressed the company’s executives, who wanted to issue all of them as A-side singles. In need of B-side songs, Leka and DeCarlo resurrected an old song from their days as the Chateaus, “Kiss Him Goodbye.”
“I said we should put a chorus to it (to make it longer), so I started writing while I was sitting at the piano going ‘na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na,'” Leka said. “Everything was ‘na na’ when you didn’t have a lyric.” Someone else added “hey hey,” some say it was DeCarlo.
“Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” reached number one in the United States and for two weeks, Dec. 6 and 13, 1969; it was Billboard’s final multi-week No. 1 hit and also peaked at No. 20 on the soul chart. By the beginning of the 21st century, sales of “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” had exceeded 6.5 million records.
In 1971, vocal doo-wop group, The Belmonts, sang an a cappella cover of the song for one of their albums. Not much later, the song made its debut in the world of sports at the University of Minnesota as a basketball pre-game warm-up routine that took on a Harlem Globetrotters-type of showmanship. In the early 1970s, Texas A&M University played the song in the fourth quarter of home football games whenever it was apparent that a victory was at hand.
Since 1977, due to the-organist for the Chicago White Sox, the song became a stadium taunt to visiting teams and is still played at U.S. Cellular Field whenever a White Sox player hits a home run or an opposing pitcher is replaced in the middle of an inning. The song was also played at the former Hartford Whalers home games if the team won
The original recording of “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” has been released in many collections of oldies songs and re-recorded by other groups. In February 1983, UK girl group Bananarama released the song as a single and became a top ten hit in the United Kingdom.
A disco remake of the song was recorded by original vocalist, DeCarlo, and another disco version was released by Pattie Brooks in 1977.
In 1987, the Canadian quartet, The Nylons, released an a cappella version as a single under the shortened title, “Kiss Him Goodbye,” and it became their biggest hit on the Billboard Hot 100.
As recently as 2011, “Na Na” was used in a TV commercial for Kohler Toilets and then most recently sung in Lafayette Park during celebrations of the death of Osama bin Laden.
This song has been remixed, covered and sampled by many other artists, including The Pioneers (cover) and The Supremes (cover). On television, Bart starts singing the song in an episode of “The Simpsons” when everyone tries to humiliate Mr. Burns in Moe’s Tavern
DeCarlo kicks off the tour of his book “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye,” written with Mary Rose Scinto. Copies of his book will be for sale following the performance and he will personally be available for a meet and greet and book signing.
All tickets are $29 and may be reserved by phone at 203-576-1636, in person at the box office, online at downtowncabaret.org or by mail at Gary De Carlo & Heat, c/o Downtown Cabaret Theatre, 263 Golden Hill St., Bridgeport, CT 06604.