An mp3 of the Interview is available lower in this text and via ITunes. Full text is below and selected portions are published in Mobile Beat Magazine – to subscribe go to https://members.mobilebeat.com.
Ryan Burger: Hi, this is Ryan Burger, the publisher of Mobile Beat magazine. We’re here with Ron Dante, known as the Mr. Archies or — how shall we know you, I guess?
Ron Dante: They usually call me the “Voice of The Archies.”
Ryan Burger: The Voice of The Archies. That’s what I saw. Fantastic. Introduce yourself, and then I’ll just ask whatever comes to mind.
Ron Dante: My name is Ron Dante. I’m a singer. I’ve been singing all my life. I was asked to be the voice of a group called The Archies years ago for their TV series that was on in the late ’60s-early ’70s, and we did all the music for it. I sang all the music. Every time you saw that red-headed, freckled Archie singing on the TV show, it was me, every Saturday morning for four years. I was lucky enough to do a lot of great songs and some of them became huge hits.
Ryan Burger: Fantastic. I watched the show a little bit; obviously I’ve heard the music and everything like that. So you’re sort of just the singing voice. You didn’t do the voice in their silly adventures and stuff like that that they did. You’re just uniquely the singing voice of Archie, then?
Ron Dante: Right. I was the voice that every time you heard the music. We did all the music on the East Coast; all the acting for the character voices were done on the West Coast in Los Angeles by character actors and things. But they supplied all the music. They actually animated to our songs. So whatever the song was, “Bang-Shang-A-Lang,” “Jingle Jangle,” they would animate to those lyrics, and you’d see The Archies dancing and singing.
Ryan Burger: So it wasn’t the other way around; sort of like — I was a big fan of the Monkees. I was watching when they came back in the mid-’80s. It seemed like their songs were written to fill the script, to a degree. Yours was the other way around.
Ron Dante: Yeah. Ours was the dance of the week or the song of the week or the Giant Jukebox would play a song that everybody could dance to on the show and at home. We tried to once in a while get conscious. We wrote a song called “Mr. Factory” about the factories polluting things. We got a little ecological on some of our songs.
Ryan Burger: That was what people did during the days. Yours was probably a calm version of what other people were writing and singing at things. It’s a way of getting a message out, too.
Ron Dante: Yeah. We tried — we knew they were young viewers; mostly pre-teens and early teens. So we tried to write and sing for that generation, for that group of people; not hit anybody over the head. Mostly it was fun music, good old-fashioned rock and roll that a lot of the kids, it was their first exposure to pop music was through The Archies’ TV show. We would have a song and a dance every week, and before they were even listening to radio, they were watching TV as young kids.
Ryan Burger: Yeah. And “Sugar, Sugar” being the biggest one that hit on there, what other were the big ones in your Archie portion of your history? We’ll get into all the things you’ve done since then, but what else were the ones that really punched?
Ron Dante: Well, the very first single we released with the very first series of shows was called “Bang-Shang-A-Lang,” which went Top 10 and sold almost a million records. People really responded to it. It was written by this great songwriter, Jeff Barry, who wrote “Be My Baby” and “Da Doo Ron Ron” and “Leader of the Pack”, “Hanky Panky”. These are all his hits. So they brought in one of the best writers of the ’60s to write for The Archies. So “Bang-Shang-A-Lang came out. The next one was, of course, “Who’s Your Baby?” And then a big one for us was “Jingle Jangle”, which was a follow-up to “Sugar, Sugar.” We sold two million records, “Jingle Jangle”, and it still gets played to this day right behind “Sugar, Sugar” on some stations.
So we had some really big ones, and it went on for four years. We had six albums out over those four years; our Greatest Hits and stuff. And every day, Archies gets played two or three hundred times a day on oldies radio stations around the country. It’s in the heavy rotation, which I’m very pleased about that.
Ryan Burger: It’s still shooting out there. Since I’m looking a little bit through your bio, which everybody can see on your website, RonDante.com, you didn’t stop after The Archies, by any means. Your history with The Archies continues on and you still come back and do more stuff with them and everything, but you moved on to more behind the scenes a lot more. Did you go straight into the producing side or did you continue to release other stuff after that?
Ron Dante: I did go into the production aspect of it. Before I did The Archies, I was a jingle singer, and I sang lots of commercials. I sang thousands and thousands of commercials. I was the voice of McDonald’s and Dr. Pepper. And on one of those spots — I did The Archies, of course, so people wanted the voice of The Archies on those commercials — I met a singer named Barry Manilow, and I ended up producing him. And through that connection I became Mr. Producer all through the ’70s and early ’80s, producing of course all the Barry Manilow hits, from “Mandy” to “Copacabana.” But I also produced Irene Cara, the “Flashdance” and “Fame” girl. I worked with Pat Benetar. I did “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” and “Heartbreaker”, “You Better Run.”
I’ve worked with wonderful classic people. So I really got behind the scenes a lot after that. I really loved the idea of being in the studio with musicians and great singers. I actually produced and worked with John Denver and Ray Charles, at one point. So I had a very, very eclectic career, and I was very pleased to be able to actually perform sometimes and other times be in the studio, producing.
Ryan Burger: The flip side of the equation. You always see actors that move into the production side of things, producing their own movies, stuff like that. So it’s a natural progression, because you know what the artist wants in a production value and then you also know what the record label wants, you’re able to connect a lot more. So I can understand the move into producing, definitely.
Ron Dante: Yeah. Producing is cool because as a singer, I produce records from the singer’s point of view; which is great because a lot of producers are very technical. They know the board; they know the amplifiers; they know the technique. But they don’t remember that the most important thing is the song and the singer. So I produce from the song and singer point of view. At least people get the impact of the song and the vocalist.
Ryan Burger: Wow. You still production-level stuff? What have you been doing the last –?
Ron Dante: Yeah. Over the Christmas time I produced a brand-new Archies album called The Archies’ Christmas Album featuring Betty and Veronica. I bought in two teenage girls to be Betty and Veronica. Danielle Van Zyl and Kelly-Lynn were Betty and Veronica. I, of course, sang the voice of Archie on our Christmas album and it did really well this Christmas. People rediscovered The Archies from the Christmas album, especially the High School Musical group and the Hannah Montana gang, because that’s what I kind of aimed that album for.
So I went right back in, and this summer we’re probably be putting out The Archies Go Country. We’ll be doing a country album in Nashville with The Archies again. So I do that, and I get called to do different commercials and different production things. I’m always working with new and up-and-coming artists. I like to keep my hand in the production. Even though I perform at least two or three times a month, I still like to come back and produce in the studio because that’s really where I love to be, also.
Ryan Burger: Well, coming up, you’re going to be performing with us at the Riviera Hotel at Mobile Beat Las Vegas that will be occurring possibly before some people hear this. But for those that are coming to the conference, tell us a little bit about what to expect of your time on stage with us.
Ron Dante: Well, I am just so excited to be a part of this show. It’s going to be so hot. It’s going to be a great, great night with lots of different types of music. I’m pleased. When they see my show, they’ll hear some of my Archies music; they’ll hear a couple of rock and roll tunes. I even had a group in the ’60s and ’70s called The Cuff Links, which we had a big hit record called “Tracy”, which a lot of 30-year-old girls named Tracy were probably named after my song.
So I’ll be doing “Tracy” also that night. It’s just going to be a very cool night. We’re going to be at the top of the Riv, in Las Vegas, with lots of people who love music and want to have some fun. So I’m really looking forward to that night.
Ryan Burger: That should be cool. You’ll be there signing autographs. We have copies of the new Christmas CD and some of the other stuff for people to pick up if they want to, I assume?
Ron Dante: I will be bringing all that stuff. I’ll be bringing CDs, The Archies new Christmas album, my classic album, the Best of The Archies with all our hits on it. I try to bring those things along because inevitably people also would like to find it. They see the artist; they would love to get something to remember the night by. So those things will be right by me.
Ryan Burger: Very cool. And then I understand you’re going to hang around a little bit with us on Wednesday; probably give us a place to sit and talk with people, anyone wants to sit and reminisce about stuff. It sounds like you really enjoy just talking with the average person. We were talking before we even turned on the Record button with this stuff; you just enjoy what you’ve done and your impact on things, and you like to talk about life in general, it sounds.
Ron Dante: Well, I’m really pleased that I was blessed to be able to do what I love all my career. And to meet the fans of the music or people that were impacted by something I did, it’s great. That really is the icing on the cake. It makes it all worthwhile. Because you go in the studio, you don’t get to meet the people that are enjoying the music. So I love to meet fans. I love to meet the people that play the music. It’s something I enjoy a lot.
Ryan Burger: Okay. Well, for those that are not going to be coming out to the conference, give us one short phrase or something, if they’re to remember who you are, who you’ve been, how would you describe yourself to the average person, or the mobile DJs out there that are probably listening to this, if they don’t get to meet you and find out your vibe and everything?
Ron Dante: Well, music has been my life totally since I was 14 years old, when I formed my first group. Of course, Archies, Cuff Links, and all my artists that I’ve produced are part of my legacy and part of what I do. But I love to keep current and I keep on top of things that are happening now. So if it’s happening in music, I’m on top of it.
Ryan Burger: Very cool. Thank you for joining us and make sure to come on out to Mobile Beat Las Vegas to check out Ron, Otis Day and the Knights, Vanilla Ice, our whole smorgasbord of styles of music, going through the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, and even a touch of ’90s at the Mobile Beat show. Come and meet everybody and find out what the DJ industry is all about.
Thanks for joining me, Ron.
Ron Dante: Pleasure being here.
Check out more information on the conference at http://www.mobilebeat.com/las-vegas-dj-show/ and Ron’s appearance on Tuesday night.