A song you’ve likely heard hundreds if not thousands of times was written by a musician living in Shelton, who did not strike it rich.
One of the artists partially responsible for creating the classic record, “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” now needs help from his supporters to fund his medical treatments.
Shelton resident, singer and co-writer of the hit song, Gary DeCarlo, 74, said fans didn’t even know about his involvement with the record until a 2011 documentary entitled “My Music: ’60s Pop, Rock & Soul” by TJ Lubinsky aired on television.
The record reached Billboard’s Number 1 spot on Dec. 6, 1969, and sold nearly 8 million copies worldwide. But DeCarlo didn’t reap the benefits of its ongoing success because after it was recorded Mercury records sent a band called Steam out on the road to perform it.
DeCarlo said hearing his song on the radio was devastating.
“It hurts man, especially because these guys were out here saying I had nothing to do with it,” said DeCarlo.
The additional income would have come in handy as DeCarlo was shocked to hear that he would be battling cancer for the second time in five years.
“I had been getting chest pain and thought it was from carrying my keyboard to and from shows and the car,” DeCarlo said. “It went on for a long time and finally the doctor said go for an x-ray, they couldn’t see anything. So I went for a catscan and they saw two masses.”
Five years earlier DeCarlo was able to beat bladder cancer, but doctors have now found that it made its way to his ribs, lung, back and spine.
He began radiation on July 5, and on July 7 he’s scheduled for a lung biopsy.
DeCarlo said in such a stressful time, his love for music serves as a distraction for him.
“Music is a mood elevator and I love when my music can make people dance or when they’re sad they can just listen more to my lyrics,” DeCarlo said. “As long as I can sing, even if they had to wheel me up on stage, I would still perform.”
He said he cannot accurately describe what the positive wishes from fans and family mean to him.
“Over 600 people have sent me well-wishes and prayers and they’re still doing it,” said DeCarlo. “It makes me feel really good.”
DeCarlo said he had never imagined his hit song would grow as big as it has — appearing in movies, being played by sports teams, and being tweaked for a variety of different genres of music. He also said he vividly remembers the night it was made with the help of Dale Frashuer, and producer/writer Paul Leka in New York City.
“It didn’t have the chant at first,” said DeCarlo. “Paul came up with the ‘Na, Na, Na’ and I added the ‘Hey, Hey, Hey’ that night and what you hear is what we did. We started at about 7 p.m and went until about 5 or so in the morning.
DeCarlo said going through treatment can get discouraging, but he remains optimistic and is planning to release a new CD titled Now and Then.
He said he has continued to work on his versatility by performing a variety of R&B, funk, disco-dance, reggae records.
“I’ve been getting great responses from fans and people in the industry which means a lot to me. My love for music keeps me going. Whether it’s writing or singing, it’s just what I love to do.”
As a result of his music and personality touching people, a GoFundMe campaign to raise $100,000 needed to cover his medical treatments was created by a friend Jim Foster. So far 69 people have donated nearly $5,000 over the course of 26 days. To make a donation visit here.