Paul Vance Update And A Story About Imposters In The Music Business!

September 30, 2006

I just got an e-mail from my old friend Ron Dante (lead singer for the Archies, Cufflinks, and Detergents.) about my early mentor Paul Vance (“Itsy Bitsy, Teenie Weenie, Yellow Polka Dot Bikini”, “Catch A Falling Star”) Ron assured me that the announcement of Pauls demise was definitley premature! A man falsely claiming for 50 years to be the writer of “Bikini”, passed away and when his widow printed the outrageous songwriting credit in his obituary, the Associated Press picked it up (without checking the facts, obviously) and spread the story throughout the media! I hope Paul takes action against this irresponsible act of journalism that disrupted his life and takes advantage of the media attention to promote himself and his incredible body of work!
This episode really got me worked up and I started thinking of how many imposters I’ve met in the music buisness. I once exposed a guy claiming to be Napoleon the Fourteenth who wrote and performed, “They’re Coming To Take Me Away, Ha Ha”, which I might’ve believed If I hadn’t been at some of my late friend, Jerry Samuels sessions as he was recording this classic. I kicked this guy out of my office, as fast as I could! Then there was this woman who wanted me to sign her to Warner Brothers Music. She claimed to be the writer of Jean Knights, “Mr. Big Stuff.” You should’ve seen how fast she backtracked when I brought her into a meeting and introduced her to a couple of big Stax producers she claimed to know!

My most interesting experience, however, came when I first moved to Hollywood and started working at Viva Music. I got a call from one of the A&R men at United Artists Records, which was right down the street. He was about to sign contracts and give a rather large check to Artie Resnick (co-writer and co-producer, with Joey Levine of (“Yummy, Yummy, Yummy”, “Chewy, Chewy”) but he felt in his gut…that something was wrong. He knew I had represented Artie back in New York and asked to me join his meeting in progress. I sat quietly and waited for Artie to come in. After a few minutes I realized that the stranger, who had been dominating the conversation, was the one who had been claiming to be my friend! I kept my mouth from hanging open and quietly left the room, informing security that the man inside was indeed an imposter! They gave me five minutes to safely leave the premises before they threw him out of the office. I left quickly, keeping in mind the old Bronx Philosophy,”The Ass You Save May Be Your own!”

You can reach Ron Dante at

Artie Wayne at

11 Responses to “Paul Vance Update And A Story About Imposters In The Music Business!”

  1. John X Says:

    RT!!! This brings to mind a time way back when…at Studio Sound Recorders (cheers George Tobin!)…A man claiming to be Nicky Hopkins (awesome English invasion keyboard player) called to book some studio time. Naturally I was thrilled, as we didn’t get many “rock” people working in there. The person who showed up not only wasn’t Nicky, but he wasn’t British and couldn’t play keyboards at all. I took great pleasure in evicting him personally.

    A few years later, a Vanity impersonator tried the same thing at Fiddler’s, another studio I worked in. We even arranged to have a limo pick her up from the airport. The person who arrived weighed about 200 lbs and was (to be polite) the wrong color.

    Gotta admire the balls!

  2. Trying to draw a correction out a major media outlet is nuts. All you can do is take the high road: hell, the dead impostor’s grieving widow might have believed him herself!

    Sloppy journalism work me into a frenzy last year, when Time Magazine named a cheap johnny-come-lately competitor to something I invented (”TV2Me”) as the “Best Invention of 2005.” On the cover, no less! On the cover!

    TV2Me fan Sting was outraged, and wrote Time “In 2003, which I am confident is two years before 2005, I purchased TV2Me from my friend Kenny Schaffer… I’ll admit it’s a long time since I was an English teacher, however, I still recall that the terms “breathrough” and “invention” refer to the first of a kind… ”

    Clever, well worded (!) and TRUE. Wouldn’t you think a publication like Time would rise and run Sting’s correction? Think again. They didn’t, and instead, assigned some hack to write back a letter that contained the most convoluted CYA ever to come from outside the Bush administration.

    I don’t know what legal action Paul can take against an error in an OBITUARY. Perhaps it’s “revenge” enough feeling sorry for the dead guy’s widow! Now that she stands corrected, she’ll probably carry the phoney’s weight all the way to his grave!

    My advice: don’t believe anything you can’t sing!

  3. Laura Pinto Says:

    When I first heard of Paul Vance’s “demise” a few days ago, I dutifully wrote to Ron Dante to let him know. You can probably imagine my embarrassment when I received a reply from Ron informing me that Paul is alive and well! I was happy to hear this, of course, but in the meantime I had posted about Paul Vance’s passing on at lease one message board and had to follow up with a retraction of sorts (even though it wasn’t my mistake – I was just reporting on what was all over the World Wide Web at that point) … and, since then, several people who only read my original post and not the followup have emailed me to let me know about my error!

    Must be strange, reading one’s own obituary. Also not the best feeling in the world knowing that somebody else was claiming to be you, for a number of years and doubtless to a number of peoplel. However, my opinion is that, after ensuring that he’s informed his friends, family members and business associates that he is still very much alive, Paul Vance should just let it be (as another Paul who was once reported to be deceased says). Imagine how upset and humiliated the widow of the dude who actually passed away feels right now … she’s not only grieving for her loss but she’s also trying to deal with the fact that she was lied to, and very badly. She’s the one who would be affected by any legal action that was taken – the guy who perpetrated the lie is dead.

  4. Andrew C. Jones Says:

    And let’s not forget the most famous musical impostor of all (at least in America) – Aleck Rice Miller, who’d been an obscure blues singer / harmonica player until he heard that the slightly better-known Sonny Boy Williamson had been murdered; Miller began pretendng to be Williamson and got away with it for so long that, by the time people found out the truth, he’d become too well-known as Sonny Boy Williamson and continued to use the name until his death in 1967.

  5. Artie Wayne Says:

    A drunk in bar where I was playing one night claimed to have written “Love Is A Many Splendored Thing” and “Blueberry Hill”.

    A guy in my new Wisc. book claims to have written “Rock and Roll Lullabye” with BJ Thomas (It’s a Mann-Weil song).

    I’ve met many other fakes who claimed to have written well-known songs. I’ve backed fake Drifters, Shirelles, Coasters, etc.

    The strangest one is when a guy in Milwaukee claimed to be the drummer on a record on which I was the drummer! It was a completely obscure record and band, so why would anyone claim to be on it?

    Gary Myers / MusicGem

  6. Bobby Lloyd Hicks Says:

    After his success with the Boxtops’ “The Letter” Wayne Carson built an 8-track studio here in Springfield,MO. We were sitting around one day when engineer “Larry Levine” stopped in. He talked for quite a while about Phil and his many Gold Star sessions. Said he was retiring in the Ozarks because he’d recently moved to A&M studios and Herb Albert was getting into porno soundtracks and that’s where he drew the line! A couple weeks later I saw “Larry” in a pretty funky part of town waiting for a bus.

  7. Phil M. Says:

    Hi Artie, as a huge Napoleon XIV fan I’d like to hear some more about the fake Napoleon sometime. Thanks, Phil M.

  8. Bobby Capps Says:

    Well I dont know who is who and who wrote what in the record business. I am NOBODY IN PARTICULAR!. I have loved all music since I was just about 4. I have worked for a blues band off and on for 20. The band consists of Raymond Victor.Once played with Elvin Bishop, Forest Mac Donald Gold record holder for the song That Old Time Rock and Roll with Bob, Andrew Black once with rainbow, and Tony Carey Solo artist and editor in Muscle Shoals. I have rodied for years off and on for Ray and found out that they have finally produced a CD worth marketing. This is a good blend The only thing is The business is so hard to get into no one will give it a listen One lawyer said he was interested in helping but it seems he just wanted a free cd Is anyone out there interested in my friends whom have possibly 160 years of experience between them a gold recod and have toured many parts of the world. I think that this should be enough or count enough for A&R or Sony or Epic Arista or someone to give them a listen. Ray Victor once wrote jingles at CBS. Cmon someone help me to get these guys a record deal 3 cds for a sum between 3-7 million. I dont get anything Im just a friend.They will take care of me later.

  9. Larry Levine Says:

    Someone just forwarded the Bobby Lee Hicks story to me, so I thought I would just straighten that out.

    I have never knowingly been to Springfield or met Wayne Carson or Bobby Hicks. It goes without saying that no part of that story is true, including Herb Alpert getting into porno soundtracks. This is almost too ridiculous to acknowledge, but I was just sitting around……..

    • Ray Jones Says:

      As I read the post from Bobby Lloyd Hicks, I think he refers to “Larry Levine” (in quotation marks) being the imposter. He then paraphrases the tale the so-called “Larry Levine” was spinning, completing his story of meeting “Larry” in the last sentence.

      I know Lloyd Hicks, a great fellow and an awesome drummer, and you probably have heard the song “The Letter” which Carson wrote, recorded by The Boxtops.

  10. Andy Russo Says:

    Just saw Loydd Hicks name and wanted to say hey…I worked for Granny’s Bathwater, out of Spriengfield MO, before moving on to Heil Sound in ’73

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