Behind the Hits — The Story of ‘Na, Na, Hey, Hey, Kiss Him Goodbye’ [VIDEO]
In November of 1969, the group 'Steam' went all the way to #1 with a hit called "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye." The story behind the song is interesting in part because there never was really a group called Steam.
The song was the result of three musicians looking for a song to record for the "B' side of a song they hoped would be a hit called, "It's the Magic in You Girl.' They didn't care much what they recorded because, as far as the musicians were concerned, no one would ever really hear the song.
The lead singer on the song, Gary DeCarlo, was in the studio with his partners Dale Frashuer and Paul Leka and it's that trio that plays all the instruments and sings all the vocal parts on the record. If you listen closely to the song, you'll notice that there are no guitars on the record. They recorded the backing track using only piano and vibes recorded over an already recorded drum track. there wasn't even a drummer in the studio when this hit was recorded. When the backing track was complete, the trio recorded vocals over and over until it sounded like a studio full of people.
When they released "It's the Magic in You Girl,' disc jockeys played the flip side instead and the rest is history. The song was a million seller all over the world and went to #1 in several countries.
When it came time to record a full album to support the song, the chore was handled by a group of studio musicians and none of the guys who actually recorded 'Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye' played on the album. Not even lead vocalist Gary DeCarlo.
Eventually, based on the amazing strength of the hit, demands started to pour in for the group to go on tour. Well, since there never was a group, the producers of the song just put together a collection of studio musicians and sent them out on the road.Since there were no real stars in the group, the ploy worked and no one was any the wiser.
Here's a recent performance of Gary DeCarlo performing the now Classic Hit song! He still sounds exactly the same.
If you like stories like this one, there's an excellent book called Behind the Hits
by Bob Shannon and John Javna.