IF YOU GO
What: Ron Dante at Evening Shade, with Stevie G. and The Rockerz opening
When: 6:30 p.m. Friday, May 31
Where: Johnston Park, Cleveland, Tenn.
To reach Johnston Park from I-75, take Cleveland Exit 25 and travel east on Highway 60 (25th Street). In about a mile, turn right on Ocoee Street and follow into downtown Cleveland. Johnston Park is two blocks south of the Bradley County Courthouse.
Chances are good you know the guy closing out the Evening Shade series of concerts in Cleveland, Tenn., on Friday, May 31. Odds are even better you wouldn't recognize the hit maker in a crowd.
His name is Ron Dante.
Ring any bells?
He sang the top-selling record of 1969.
Still no clue?
What if we told you the No. 1 song was "Sugar, Sugar" and that Dante was the lead singer for the fictional cartoon band The Archies.
Now try getting his voice out of your head.
That bubblegum-pop standard wasn't Dante's only anonymous hit. He sang "Jingle Jangle," portrayed as a Betty/Veronica song, in falsetto for The Archies, and had a third song in the Top 10 with "Tracy" for the one-hit wonder group The Cuff Links.
In music circles, he may be best known for his work as a producer for artists including Barry Manilow, Cher, Dionne Warwick, Pat Benatar, Irene Cara, Ray Charles and John Denver.
Online sources cite Dante as the driving force behind Manilow's greatest successes. Their collaboration spawned one hit after another on Manilow's first nine releases, from 1973 to 1981. Dante often sang backup on the recordings, including the 1974 No. 1 single "Mandy."
On Broadway, he has produced two Tony Award winners: "Ain't Misbehavin'," 1978's Best Musical, and "Children of a Lesser God," 1980's Best Play.
He also counts a host of television and commercial jingles as a session singer.
"Ron will be a real treat for the audience," says series organizer Kyle Elrod. "He will include such tracks as 'Old Time Rock and Roll,' 'Rockin' Robin' and 'Angels Among Us' in his show."
Opening for Dante will be Atlanta party band Stevie G and The Rockerz. Music starts at 6:30 p.m. in Johnston Park.
This show wraps up the 19th season of the series, which is presented each Friday in May by the Allied Arts Council of the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce.