Sunday, 4 November 2007

Cyrkle Co-Founder Thomas Dawes Passes On

Thomas Dawes, co-founder of folk rock group The Cyrkle, passed on October 13 from a stroke. He was 64 years old.

Dawes was born in Albany, New York on July 25, 1943. He attended Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania. It was there that bassist Dawes met guitarist Don Dannemann. They formed a band called The Rhondells in 1961, mostly playing covers of Four Seasons songs and similar groups. They eventually changed their style and began playing resorts around Atlantic City. It was in 1964 that Nat Weiss, entertainment lawyer and partner to Beatles manager Brian Epstein, heard them at the Alibi Lounge. Weiss began booking The Rhondells' shows. The band was set for further success when Don Danneman had to leave for military service. In the meantime Dawes played bass for Simon and Garfunkel when they were on tour. It was while playing with them that Paul Simon played for Dawes his song "Red Rubber Ball."

When Dannemann returned from service, The Rhondells reformed. They found themselves managed by Brian Epstein. They also found a new name, The Cyrkle, the unusual spelling being suggested by none other than John Lennon. They would have a hit with "Red Rubber Ball," which climbed to #2 on the Billboard singles charts. The Cyrkle would eveb open for The Beatles on their last tour through the United States. Unfortunately, The Cyrkle would have only one more hit. "Turn Down the Day" went to #16 on the Billboard charts.

Their third single, "Please Don't Ever Leave Me," did not even break the top 40, only going to #59 on the singles chart. Following singles also performed poorly. The Cyrkle provided the soundtrack to the movie The Minx, but neither the movie nor the soundtrack album nor any songs from the album were hits. Their last single, "Where Are You Going" did not even chart. Tom Dawes had left the band in 1968. The Cyrkle disbanded not long afterwards.

No longer part of a rock group, Dawes turned to writing commercial jingles in the Seventies and Eighties. His most famous compositions may well be "Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz" for Alka-Seltzer and "7Up, the Uncola," He also wrote jingles for L'Eggs, American Airlines, MacDonalds, and Coca-Cola. His wife, Ginny Redington Dawes, was also a jingle writer when they met. Together they wrote several jingles (including the famous "Coke is It" jingle). Dawes also produced an album for Foghat in the Seventies and with his wife wrote the musical Talk of the Town, about the Algonquin Round Table. The Cyrkle briefly reunited in 1986 for one last time.

Although The Cyrkle turned out to be a two hit wonder, Thomas Dawes was a very talented composer and musician. The Cyrkle's music still stands up today. Indeed, "Red Rubber Ball" is still a standby on oldies stations everywhere. Dawes also contributed considerably to pop culture as a jingle writer. "Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz" is arguably one of the best known jingles of all time, a tribute to Dawes' skill as a writer. He will certainly be missed.

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