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Passings: Songwriter, Producer Frank Slay (1930 - 2017)

Frank Slay (left) and Bob Crewe
by VVN Music

Frank Slay, a songwriter, producer and executive whose influenced touched on such diverse artists as Freddy Cannon to Sugarloaf, has died at the age of 87.

Slay was born in Dallas but moved to New York at the age of 21 in 1951. He worked the streets for much of the decade trying to become a songwriter and finally broke through in 1957 with the song Silhouettes which he wrote with frequent partner Bob Crewe and was a hit for The Rays (1957 / #3 Pop / #3 R&B). The song was also a hit for the Diamonds (1957 / #10 Pop / #6 R&B), Herman's Hermits (1965 / #5 Pop / #3 U.K.) and Cliff Richard (1990 / #10 U.K.).

The flip side of Silhouettes, Daddy Cool, also went on to become a hit two decades later when a version by The Darts went to number 6 in the U.K. in 1977.

Slay and Crewe continued to have hits throughout the rest of the 50's with Billy & Lillie's "La Dee Dah" (1958 / #9 Pop / #6 R&B) and "Lucky Ladybug" (1958 / #14 Pop) and Freddy Cannon's "Tallahassee Lassie" (1959 / #6 Pop / #13 R&B / #17 U.K.), "Jump Over" (1960 / #28 Pop) and "Transistor Sister" (1961 / #35 Pop).

It was also in 1961 when Slay moved to Philadelphia to become A&R Director of Swan Records where he also started producing many of Cannon's recordings.  Slay also had a minor hit of his own with "Flying Circle" (1961 / #45).

Frank left Swan to move to New York in 1963 and then to Los Angeles where he continued to produce including the hits "Incense and Peppermints" for the Strawberry Alarm Clock and "Don't Call Us, We'll Call You" by Sugarloaf on his own Claridge Records.