Sorry, We're Closed

Monday, October 29, 2007

Tom Dawes, 1944-2007

Got back into town today to sad news; Tom Dawes, bass player and singer from the Cyrkle, has died at age 63 due to complications from heart surgery.

Most music fans naturally know the Cyrkle from their huge 1966 hit "Red Rubber Ball," written by Paul Simon along with Bruce Woodley of the Seekers. In my opinion, it's one of their worst songs, with its strained metaphors and bad modulation in the last verse. I prefer their follow-up hit, "Turn-Down Day," featuring a sitar riff, breezy harmonies, and goofy pub piano.

The Cyrkle did at least 20 top-flight mid-60s pop songs over the course of two albums, a rare and interesting soft-core porno film soundtrack LP (The Minx), and several more singles. Dawes, guitarist Don Danneman, and drummer Marty Fried played together from their college days in the early 60s through 1967, when Dawes left to become a jingle writer. You may know some of his work: he wrote "Plop-plop fizz-fizz" for Alka Seltzer, "Coke Is It," and "We're American Airlines, doing what we do best."

Dannemann and Fried hung around to make a couple of final Cyrkle tracks before finally splitting the band in mid '68. Dannemann went into jingles as well (he wrote the first 7Up "Uncola" pitch), while Fried eventually ended up a lawyer.

The group's two Columbia albums, Red Rubber Ball and Neon, are recommended for fans of mid-60s pop. They were never a hard rock band, but had some aggressive songs along with their harmonic, melodic, rhythmically interesting work. John Simon was a fine producer and helped arrange their songs to be their best. Keyboardist Michael Losekamp joined the group for Neon and contributed a classy vocal to the excellent "The Visit (She Was Here)."

But in tribute to Tom Dawes, I'm going to post a song he sang and wrote, the leadoff track of Neon. A cool fusion of girl-group rhythm, Beatles songcraft, innovative 1967 production, and Four Seasons/Beach Boys harmony, "Don't Cry, No Fears, No Tears Coming Your Way" is about as good as mid-60s pop gets.

I offer my condolences to the friends and family of Tom Dawes. I always hoped for a Cyrkle reunion, but at least the records are still out there. Rest in peace, sir.


Blogger Larry Epke said...

Sad news indeed. The Cyrcle's catalog is topnotch indeed, and I want to put in a mention of a favorite of mine, Reading Her Paper.

And on another note, whatever happened to John Simon? He had a hand in a lot of good records but seems to have been largely forgotten.

6:54 AM, October 31, 2007

Blogger Winona said...

I'm ashamed to say that "Red Rubber Ball" is probably the only Cyrkle song I'm familiar with, but I will definitely check them out further. :-(

7:18 AM, October 31, 2007

Anonymous Dan E said...

Big fan of the Cyrkle, myself — "Penny Arcade," "The Word" and "Please Don't Ever Leave Me" are also right up there with "Turn Down Day". You forgot to mention that "Red Rubber Ball" is a Paul Simon composition, which might explain the strained metaphors...

12:09 PM, October 31, 2007

Anonymous Dan E said...

D'oh! You did mention that, after all. Don't have my eyes in today, I guess...

12:10 PM, October 31, 2007

Blogger Crotchbat said...


Whenever I break out my "Neon" LP, I go straight to the heart-melter "The Visit(She Was Here)".

FYI - Sundazed reissued Neon and the Minx OST on CD.

11:38 AM, November 01, 2007

Blogger Stuart Shea said...

You're right about "The Visit." A beautiful song.
The CD reissues of all three albums are absolutely necessary--for their non-LP singles (such as the aforementioned "Reading Her Paper" and "Penny Arcade") as well as some unreleased tracks.
They were also, I think, the first American band to record songs written by the Bee Gees.

8:30 AM, November 02, 2007

Anonymous Dan Daly said...

How sad to hear that Tom Dawes has died. 'Neon' was one of my favorite albums from the mid-sixties and Dawes' bass and guitar playing had a lot to do with it. 'I Wish You Could Be Here' and 'Please Don't Ever Leave Me' are top notch tracks that have been undeservedly overlooked. Both gems. My condolences to the Dawes family and what I am sure are his many friends. Dan Daly

6:29 PM, May 06, 2008

Blogger Alex said...

Great article by the 1st commenter. Fantastic job applying the song to the page as well. I grew up listening to these guys while assmbling model cars and Planes in my younger days(the glue probably didn't hurt either,but those were the days.) I'm well adjusted now and have a family. Turn down day and Red Rubber Ball are not bad songs! Tom will surly be missed and my best to the family. Heaven truly has a incredible band!

8:47 PM, June 02, 2008

Blogger Mercy Vasquez said...

I remember as a young teen the time day and hour I first heard red rubber ball. I was on a bus traveling through the desert and it was a great sunny day and that fun song came on. It made me smile and the image of the desert the bright sun and the song will forever be burning in my memory.

3:31 PM, October 14, 2015


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