By Paco Lopez
On Wednesday, I was scrolling through social media and a very familiar face popped up on my screen. It was Gary DeCarlo’s smiling face.
You may not know the name, but, as soon as I tell you the song he co-wrote and sang lead on, you’ll think, “Oh my God, that was HIM?!”
“Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” by Steam. It’s been played at sporting events countless times. Whenever the home team has the game “locked in,” the speakers blast “Hey, Hey, Hey Goodbye!”
Gary was a nice guy. I had the chance to talk to him several times. He asked me for advice on a version of a remake of his world famous, multi-million selling song, so that I could play it on 1059 SUNNY FM in our Saturday Night, Classic Dance Showcase After Party. It’s a dance mix that I do every Saturday night at midnight. Gary not only listened, but remixed the song with the suggestions I gave him…so I played it.
The story of the song is interesting. Gary, Paul Leka, and Dale Frashuer, were the nucleus of the (studio band) group which became known as “Steam.” It was a stone cold smash hit song; it was a number #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1969.
Ironically, the song was originally the “B-Side” of a single the record label needed to have something on what at the time was a 45 single. Gary began putting together the song at the keyboard, singing “na na na na” because whenever most musicians were putting together a melody, they would just sing, “na na na na,” but then he added the “hey hey,” and the rest is pretty much history.
It was Steam’s – “One Hit Wonder song.” However, it was a song that would continue to pay dividends for years having sold over 6.5 million copies by the beginning of the 21st Century…a multi-platinum smash. It was the dream record every artist looks for, but few find…and it will live on for years.
Gary passed away while in hospice care in Connecticut, with his wife by his side. DeCarlo had been valiantly battling lung cancer, but, the disease spread through his body and took him from us.
Gary DeCarlo was 75. R.I.P.