Today’s Guest: Ron Dante, singer, The Archies, “Sugar Sugar”
Mr. Media is recorded live before a studio audience of unruly 50-year-old men arguing whether Betty or Veronica is the hottest Saturday morning cartoon character ever… in the new new media capitol of the world… St. Petersburg, Florida!
I still remember the first time I heard the song.
It was September 1969, I was a new fourth grader in Mrs. Arnesan’s class at Judd Elementary School in North Brunswick, New Jersey, riding the school bus home. We were on Black Horse Lane, then a shady, rural road, driving all the way to the end of it to drop off one of my classmates at her secluded home.
As usual when we had our regular driver at the wheel, WABC 77 AM was blasting through the tinny speakers.
The song, days away from hitting No. 1 in the nation, had an irresistible rhythm; every kid riding the bus that day stopped what they were doing or talking about to listen:
Aw honey, honey
You are my candy girl
And you got me wanting you.
It’s the kind of moment that sticks with you a lifetime – at least it did with me.
It also launched a million questions: How come Archie sounded so squeaky when he spoke but sang “Sugar Sugar” so smoothly? Were girls made of candy? Who was hotter, Betty or Veronica? (Okay, 9-year-old Mr. Media probably didn’t use the word “hotter,” but the intent was the same.) Did Miss Grundy look that ugly when she was my age?
RON DANTE podcast excerpt: “First time they put the lyric for ‘Sugar Sugar’ in front of me, I really had to create a character in my mind to sing the song. I was kind of hearing Donovan in my head, but it came out in my own New York, East Coast sound.”
Anyway, out of thin air an opportunity arose to interview Ron Dante, the Archies singer who was the real voice of The Archies. I flashed back to that day on the school bus and knew the answer would be “Yes.”
In the years since, Dante – who was essentially discovered by Don Kirshner – has been a singer and record producer, having worked most famously with a young Barry Manilow, producing all of Manilow’s platinum albums and 18 Top Ten singles from 1973 through 1981. He also did production work for Cher, Irene Cara, Pat Benatar and John Denver.