Johnny Daye is an outstanding white soul singer who recorded the classic Stax Records R&B tracks “What’ll I Do”, “Stay Baby Stay”, “I Need Somebody” and ”I Love Love” backed by Steve Cropper, Issac Hayes and members of Booker T and the MGs. His mentor Otis Redding took him on tour on the Chitlin and college frat circuit in the late 1960s. A dynamic singer and dancer Daye won the praise of James Brown and Jackie Wilson when he performed at the legendary Apollo Theater working with Bobby Bland’s review. During his 1960’s music career Johnny Daye released 12 great R&B songs on Stax, Johnny Nash’s Jomada Records, Parkway-Cameo Records, and Blue Star Records. He recorded the vintage soul song “Good Time” on Jorma in 1966. Before he was discovered by Otis Redding Daye had a hit record on Jorma with “Marry Me” in 1966 that was aired on Pittsburgh radio and TV. Daye came out of retirement in 2007 to sing the lead on two tracks on Robert Peckman’s solo CD “Stirrin Up Bees”. Several music publications rate Johnny Daye as one of the best blue eyed soul singers of all time.
Johnny Daye’s Stax recordings are featured on the compilations The Complete Stax-Volt Singles 1959-1968 and The Complete Stax-Volt Soul Singles, Vol. 2: 1968-1971. Janet Jackson covered "What'll I Do".covered on her 1993 album “Janet”.
“Johnny Daye may have been the best blue-eyed soul singer of the '60s. He had an electrifying stage act that wasn't fake or contrived. Daye would slide, dip, and bop on stage like a fair-complected James Brown. .."Stay Baby Stay," is an aching, deep-fried soul ballad” – Andrew Hamilton Allmusic Guide
"Otis really wanted to do a lot with him. The kid was dynamite. Had Otis lived, he probably would have."- Steve Cropper in The Complete Stax / Volt Singles 1959–1968 liner notes
"I'm gonna go on record and say that Johnny Daye is the greatest of all white soul singers...this record is pure magic and stands up to the repertoire of his mentor. Too bad more people didn't get to hear the record, full of gritty, gutbucket vocals, guitar licks that are dripping with grease and of course the laid back but slamming Stax rhythm section." -Review of What'll I Do -Derek's Daily 45s Blog
"the must-have moment on Stirrin' Up Bees is "Let's Talk It Over," featuring the first lead vocals laid down in 30 years by blue-eyed soul legend Johnny Daye...Coming across like a more distinctly American Van Morrison, Daye's voice is just about as pure and confident as it was in the Stax days." -Justin Hopper - Pittsburgh City Paper
Enjoy the music of Johnny Daye on the Johnny Daye R&B Classics Video Channel
An Ital from Homewood meets the Rock
In an excellent in-depth interview with the blog “I Dig Pittsburgh” Johnny Daye recounted his music career. He was born as Johnny DiBucci in Pittsburgh where he grew up in the Homewood Brushton Neighborhood. Johnny began singing in the early sixties at recess with his eight grade classmates at the Winslow School. They formed a vocal group called “The Five Italians” that became known as the “Itals”. The Itals began singing at Larimer Avenue Italian social clubs performing for card playing gangsters. Ralph Fischeti became their first manager and got them their first paying gig at a school dance. Joe Rock, the manager of the Skyliners, took them to record at Gateway Studios in Pittsburgh, just three days after they auditioned for him before a Skyliners concert at the Penn Theater. After the Itals broke up Joe Rock became DiBucci’s manager.
DiBucci said his early influences were blues singer Johnny Taylor, Marvin Gaye, Joe Tex, and the Skyliner’s Jimmy Beaumont. Joe Rock took the 15 year old Johnny DiBucci to see and learn from his idol Beaumont at live appearances and recording sessions. Hoping to land DiBucci a record deal Joe Rock took him to New York to visit the Tin Pan Alley record labels. In New York DiBucci met Frankie Day owner of the the Philadelphia-based Cameo-Parkway label. Frankie Day did not sign Johhny at that point but he helped him out financially. In gratitude DiBucci took on the stage name of Johnny Daye.
Becoming a Recording Artist
Johnny Daye recorded his first single "I'll Keep on Loving You" / "One of These Days" in 1965 on Nick Cenci’s Blue Star Records. Joe Rock and Johnny Jack wrote “I’ll Keep on Loving You”. To promote the single Johnny Daye appeared on the popular Clark Race TV dance show, Terry Lee’s Come Alive on Channel 11, and Teen Times on Steubenville’s Channel 9. He quickly became a popular performer in Pittsburgh, Wheeling, Weirton, and Fairmont. The girls went crazy for him.
After his success in Pittsburgh Johnny Daye signed with Frankie Day’s Parkway Records releasing the single "A Lot of Progress" / "You're on Top" in 1966. Burt Keys arranged “A Lot of Progress” and Bernard Purdie played drums on both tracks. After the single failed to reach the charts Johnny Daye asked to be released from his Parkway contact as he felt the label was trying to make him into a James Brown clone. Frank Day graciously let Johnny go.
Still under management of Joe Rock, Johnny Daye auditioned for singer Johnny Nash (of “I Can See Clearly Now Forever” fame) and was signed to his Jomada label. Daye’s first release on Jorma was the 1966 single "Marry Me" / "Give Me Back My Ring" which was a hit in the Pittsburgh market. Johnny Nash bought the song “Good Time” from Barry Gordon at Motown and Johnny Daye recorded it backed the Drifters bass singer. Nash arranged for Johnny Daye to perform seven shows the Bobby Bland Revue. He made his debut appearance at the Apollo Theater with Bobby Bland in November of 1965. James Brown who was in the audience complimented Johnny on his performance after the show. Daye made several appearance at the Apollo during it's R&B glory days.
"Young Johnny just finished an appearance at the famed Apollo Theater in Harlmen, New York. The word is that he brought the house down with his "soulful act". He suprised all the old pros like Bobby Bland." -The Music Bag with Brother Matt of WAMO - Pittsburgh Courier Nov 20 1965.
Discovered by Otis Redding
In 1967 Otis Redding and Wilson Picket were scheduled to perform at Pittsburgh’s Penn Theatre for a show hosted by WAMO’s Brother Matt. Johnny Daye was added to the bill as the opening act when Wilson Pickett canceled. Daye performed three songs with Otis Redding watching him from the wings. After the show Otis said to Daye: ‘Why don’t you come to Memphis and make records with me? Give me your number.’ Otis Redding called Daye at his home a month later inviting him to come to Georgia for the National Association of Radio Announcers convention. Afterwards Redding took Daye to a party at his home in Macon, GA where he met Sam & Dave, Aretha Franklin, Pittsburgh’s Chuck Jackson, and James Brown. Otis then took Daye on tour to perform on the Chittlin Circuit.
Stax Records and Steve Cropper
With Redding’s help Johnny Daye signed a record deal with Stax Records. Steve Cropper the guitarist of Booker T & the MG's produced Daye’s first Stax single "What'll I Do for Satisfaction" / "I Need Somebody" in 1976. Steve Cropper wrote the song wrote with Stax staff songwriter Joseph Shamwell. The single was recorded in Memphis. Johnny Daye was backed by world class R&B session players that included members of Booker T and the MGs, the Memphis Horns, and drummer Carl Cunningham a member of Otis Redding’s band the Bar-Kays. For the second Stax single Joe Rock and Johnny Daye collaborated on the song “Stay Baby Stay”. Daye wrote the melody on guitar and considers it his best recording. Issac Hayes came into the studio by chance when they were recording it and walked right over to the piano and started playing. Booker T took the tape to New York and added the strings and the Sweet Inspirations to sing background vocals. The single "Stay Baby Stay" / "I Love Love" was released on Stax in 1968. But Stax did little to promote it. The label changed ownership and lost its distribution deal with Atlantic Records. Stax fell into insolvency and closed its doors in 1975. None of Johnny Daye’s Stax singles reached the Billboard charts.
With Otis Redding’s support Johnny Daye’s career looked promising. But tragedy struck on December 10th 1967 when a plane carrying Redding and his band the Bar-keys crashed on its way to Cleveland. Redding died at the age of 26. Johnny Daye told the “I Dig Pittsburgh” blog . “When Otis died my career died. The mood was gone and nobody wanted to come to work anymore. I didn’t sing again for five years…. Otis loved me. He thought I was going to be a big money maker for him. I was so discouraged. I had nobody.” Daye ended his relationship with Joe Rock as Rock turned his attention to managing the Jaggerz. who signed a record deal with Kenny Gamble’s label in 1968.
Johnny Daye attempted a comeback in the early 1970s relocating to California. Steve Cropper produced a four day recording session with Daye singing backed by Leon Russell on piano. With the British invasion and the rise of rock there was little interest from the labels in R&B. His recordings with Russell along with a recording of Chuck Jackson’s “I Keep Forgetting” and several cuts on the and Parkway records went unreleased. Daye made live appearances in California but quit when he came to feel his style of music was passe’.
Back to DA Burgh
Johnny DiBucci returned to Pittsburgh to became a luxury car salesman at P&W BMW on Baum Boulevard. Musician Robert Peckman, another client of Joe Rock's, who had played with Johnny Daye in the 1960s in Pittsburgh convinced Daye to briefly come out of retirement in 2007. Daye recorded the lead vocal on two tracks of Peckman’s CD “Stirrin’ Up Bees” in Pittsburgh at the Mojo Boneyard Recording Studio.