BARRY DE VORZON
Born 31 July 1934, New York City
Songwriter / singer / producer / arranger / label owner
Barry De Vorzon was born into a wealthy and musical family; his father was singer and violinist Jules De Vorzon. In the 1950s the family moved from New York City to Palm Springs, California. Barry's musical career started in 1957 when he was signed by RCA Victor as a singer. Four RCA singles were released between 1957 and 1959, pleasant teen pop, but sales were minimal. He was more successful as a songwriter. His first hit composition was "Just Married" by Marty Robbins (# 26 pop, # 1 country), soon followed by "Treasure Of Your Love" by Eileen Rodgers (# 26 pop), both Columbia recordings from 1958. In 1959, De Vorzon signed with Columbia himself, resulting in three more soft rock singles, backed by such ace session men as Bucky Pizzarelli, Al Caiola and Panama Francis. Barry was living in Los Angeles and recording in New York. Surprisingly, though, he was recording few of his own songs. He did publish his own songs, however, launching Sherman-De Vorzon Music with his partner Billy Sherman. Together they managed Dorsey Burnette, who was recording for Era Records at the time. Dorsey and Barry co-wrote several of Dorsey's Era recordings ("Hey Little One", "Big Rock Candy Mountain", "Red Roses", "Noah's Ark"). But Barry had much more success with a song he wrote for Dorsey's brother, Johnny Burnette. This was "Dreamin'" (co-written by Ted Ellis), which gave Johnny his first hit (# 11 US, # 5 UK), in 1960. DeVorzon struck up a friendship with Bobby Bare and produced Bobby's first post-Army session for Fraternity Records in December 1960. Among the songs recorded was "Book Of Love", which was very much in the style of "Dreamin'", though Barry didn't write the song. (He did publish it, though.)
Also in 1960, De Vorzon and Sherman set up their own label, Valiant Records, an independent pop label distributed by Warner Bros. Valiant's first release, "Angel On My Shoulder" by Shelby Flint (Valiant 6001) was an immediate success, reaching # 22 on the Billboard charts. In 1962 Valiant signed a five-piece group called the Coastliners. Each member of the group was an instrumentalist as well as a vocalist. DeVorzon changed their name to the Cascades and turned them into a vocal group. "Rhythm Of the Rain", the group's second single, became a monster hit, peaking at # 3 in the US and # 5 in the UK in early 1963. The follow-up, "The Last Leaf"/"Shy Girl" also charted (both sides), but then Billy Sherman overlooked an option pick-up and the Cascades' manager took them to RCA, just when DeVorzon thought he had written the perfect song for them, "I Wonder What She's Doing Tonight". Barry ended up recording the song himself, with two friends, Bodie Chandler (co-writer of the song) and Terry Smith. Credited to Barry and the Tamerlanes, the record went to # 21 in late 1963 (Valiant 6034). They cut two follow-ups but the group was soon forgotten amidst the turmoil of the British Invasion. Valiant Records soon found new success when DeVorzon signed The Association to his label. This group scored four hits on Valiant (including a # 1, "Cherish") before they moved to Warner Bros in 1967.
Barry De Vorzon has continued to make his presence felt as a producer and composer, but the rest of his career falls outside the scope of SAO. He is a very prolific songwriter, with 1221 entries in the BMI files. In the 1970s he started writing film music and his scores have been heard in such films as "Xanadu", "Private Benjamin", "Rolling Thunder" and "The Ninth Configuration". One tune, "Cotton's Theme", originally heard in "Bless the Beasts and Children", was renamed "Nadia's Theme" and scored by Perry Botkin Jr. as the theme of the popular television daytime serial "The Young and the Restless". "Nadia's Theme", credited to Barry De Vorzon and Perry Botkin, Jr., became Barry's biggest hit, peaking at # 8 in 1976.
The CD "I Wonder What She's Doing Tonight" (Valiant CD-101) collects all of Barry's vocal recordings, including those for RCA and Columbia.
Acknowledgements: Liner notes by Rob Finnis for "The Golden Age Of American Rock 'n' Roll, Vol. 7" (Ace 700) and by Colin Escott for "The Drugstore's Rockin', vol. 3 and 4" (Bear Family BCD 16608 and 16678).
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