Lenny Welch

Singer Lenny Welch was born Leon Welch on May 15, 1938 in Asbury Park, NJ. He started singing as a youngster, assembling groups and participating in talent shows. In his late teens, Welch and his group auditioned for Decca Records in New York. The executives loved "Lenny," which they called Leon, because name flowed better. Decca recorded Welch solo on a couple of promising 45s but the sales were dismal. Two years passed before his next break. Coley Wallace, a prize fighter, introduced Welch to Archie Bleyer, the owner of Cadence Records. The association clicked and "You Don't Know Me" was his first release, it made some noise, but it was the second Cadence single, "Since I Fell for You," a a number five pop hit in 1963, that brought the mass sells and accolades; he also scored with "Ebb Tide," and was on his way to becoming another Johnny Mathis when two devastating circumstances occurred. For starters, and reasons unknown, Archie Bleyer folded Cadence in September of 1964, the label he had started in December 1952. (Cadence had built the careers of many artists including Andy Williams, the Everly Brothers, and Johnny Tillotson; Andy Williams purchased the companies' masters from Bleyer and reissued them on his Barnaby label, but signed with Columbia Records to release his new recordings, while Bleyer retired to Wisconsin.) Lenny's last Cadence release, "If You See My Love" in 1964, charted at number 92. He also contributed vocals to Eddie Harris' 1964 LP Cool Sax, Warm Heart. But after a couple of hits and one LP release, Since I Fell for You in 1963, Welch was shopping for a new deal. The second setback came from Uncle Sam. Lenny stayed involved in music while serving his country. He did record hops and weekend dates to promote his new releases on Kapp Records, but nothing significant happened until his duty ended. He landed with Kapp shortly after Cadence closed and charted with "Darling Take Me Back," "Two Different Worlds" (1965), "Please Help Me, I'm Falling" (1966), and "The Right to Cry" in 1967. Unexpectedly, Welch then took another hiatus; this time to get his mind together, and to practice and research his musical skills and sell his image. While compared to Johnny Mathis and other ballad singers, Welch wasn't playing the cushy Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe gigs, his albums didn't sell like Mathis' or Andy Williams'. The leave of absence was a big mistake; he came back, and began gigging at some major clubs, but it never really happened for him like he envisioned. Attempted comebacks in the '70s didn't pan out, including a marvelous single on the Cur label entitled "To Be Loved/Glory of Love" b/w "My Heart Won't Let Me." Dwindling interest caused the handsome, velvet-voiced singer with the super personality to become a "whatever happened to . . ." topic. You can hear his work on Anthology (1958-1966), on Taragon Records, and the Collectables reissue of Since I Fell for You. He recorded three albums on Kapp: Two Different Worlds (1965), Rags to Riches (1966), and Lenny, in 1967. ~ Andrew Hamilton

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