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Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye by Steam

Album: Jock Rock, Vol. 1Released: 1969Charted:
1
9
  • One of the strangest #1 hits in history, this song was written as a throwaway B-side, but became a cultural phenomenon used for years to come as a musical goodbye.

    The song was written by Gary DeCarlo, Dale Frashuer and Paul Leka, who had been in a band together called the Chateaus in the early '60s. One of the songs they wrote and released as the Chateaus was a tune called "Kiss Him Goodbye," which was issued in 1961.

    In 1968, Leka co-wrote and co-produced the song "Green Tambourine," which was a huge hit for The Lemon Pipers. The following year, he started working with DeCarlo, who was using the stage name Garrett Scott. Working for Mercury Records, they set to work writing singles for "Garrett Scott." They recorded four songs, which Leka produced. The first one released was "Working On A Groovy Thing," which was written by Roger Atkins and Neil Sedaka. The 5th Dimension also recorded the song and released it first, which tanked the Garrett Scott version (The 5th Dimension recording made #20 US; Patti Drew recorded the song a year earlier, taking it to #62).

    The next single planned for DeCarlo was "Sweet Laura Lee," a ballad written by Larry Weiss, composer of "Rhinestone Cowboy." Needing a B-side, for this tune, Leka and DeCarlo went back to the studio, where they were joined by their old bandmate Dale Frashuer, who suggested they use their 1961 song "Kiss Him Goodbye." That song didn't have a chorus, so Leka wrote one, lazily using "na na"s instead of actual words. They started the session around 7pm and finished at 5am, but when they emerged, they had the completed song.

    When Bob Reno, the A&R man at Mercury, heard the song, he loved it and didn't want to waste it as a B-side. He needed singles for the Mercury subsidiary Fontana Records, so the song was released on that label and credited to the group Steam (named because after the session to record it, the guys were crossing 7th Ave and a subway train went beneath the roadway, shooting steam up from the manhole).

    From there, the story gets convoluted, but when the single was released it became a surprise hit. Another song called "Now That I Love You" was used instead on the Garrett Scott "Sweet Laura Lee" single, which went nowhere when it was released. DeCarlo had a huge hit on his hands, but not as a solo artist but as part of an anonymous group.

    The most-repeated story is that the three writers were embarrassed about "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye," so they created the name Steam to hide their identities. DeCarlo tells us, however, that he was never embarrassed by the song, and that he was promised more of the action. "I was supposed to be the singer and road act for 'Na Na' as it was my B-side," he told us. "When Paul and the company got together they decided to split the record, meaning there would be two out. Paul said I would be able to do both as Garrett Scott, which I was later told I had no group. Paul said he would get me a group from a booking agency in New York, which never happened. "Na Na" was never done with a group in mind, it was the B-side of my single. The name Steam wasn't invented until the album was being done."
  • The group chant is the hero of this song, but it does tell a story, as the singer is asking the girl to kiss-off the guy she's with and get with him, since he will appreciate her. As Gary DeCarlo tells us: "It was and still is about the love factor. Anyone who's been in a love triangle can identify with this. Trying make the girl realize that he's not the guy for her.
  • This is commonly used at sporting events when the home team is about to win or an opposing player is removed from the game.
  • B-sides in the '60s were often ad-hoc affairs designed to be clearly inferior to the A-side so that disc jockeys wouldn't flip the record. The three musicians who recorded this had that in mind for this song, and kept it simple: there is no bass or guitar on the track, and the repeating drum loop was lifted from one of the four Garrett Scott singles, a song called "Sugar" written by Neil Sedaka. The song was built in layers, with just the drum track, piano, organ and a board DeCarlo played as percussion to accompany the vocals.
  • The famous chant in this song came spontaneously. Paul Leka started singing the "Na na na na, goodbye" part, and Gary DeCarlo added the "Hey hey hey" parts, which they repeated over and over. This was done to lengthen the song - the master recording was so long they had to fade it out so it would fit on the record. When it was released, the song clocked in at 3:45.
  • When this song became a hit, an entire album was commissioned and a group created for it. The song's singer and co-writer, Gary DeCarlo, sang backup on the other tracks but refused to sing lead on them, since he was not invited to tour with the band and hated the idea of other guys taking credit for his work. The group assembled to tour as Steam was: Bill Steer (lead singer), Jay Babins (guitar), Mike Daniels (bass), Ray Corries (drums), Tom Zuke (guitar), Hank Schorz (keyboards).

    DeCarlo says he wanted to front Steam, but producer Paul Leka wouldn't let him. (Leka died in 2011 at age 68.)
  • According to Tommy Mottola, who spent time as both chairman of Sony Music and husband of Mariah Carey, he is one of the backing singers on this track. He was working for MRC Music publishing at the time, whose workers were recruited to provide the group chorus.
  • Bananarama covered this on their first album in 1983, taking it to #5 in the UK.
  • This song's lead singer Gary DeCarlo was asked not to reveal that it was him on the record, since there was a different singer performing it at live appearances. He says that his manager Paul Leka and record man Bob Reno placated him by promising to get him a hit as a solo artist, but that never happened.

    When we asked DeCarlo about how he felt when he heard the song, he replied: "It was a double-edged sword for me when I would hear it. I was and still am very proud and it's a great feeling to know that so many people still like it. But back then I wanted to open my car window or yell to people on the train that it was me they were hearing. I was very green about the business side, all I wanted to do was sing, create songs, produce, anything that had to do with music. Paul was telling people that it happened too quick for me, and because he was my manager, publisher, producer and longtime friend, I thought he had my back, which he didn't.

    I felt I had to listen to them because this was a shot for me with people that knew the business, even though my stomach felt like I had razors in it. I really fell into a state of depression and went for medication to try and deal with it. Everyone believed Paul's side of the story because they felt that he went on in the business and as they say my stuff bombed, like my recordings were garbage. My records never got the exposure that was needed to let the public decide if they were good or not. I have had my songs on YouTube and have gotten very favorable reactions from people, including musicians that I've done shows with."
  • Gary DeCarlo released a new version of this song on his 2014 album Long Time Comin'. This rendition has a slower tempo and more of an R&B feel.
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Comments: 34

Gary DeCarlo as original lead voice on the record? I wonder about that after watching him perform because he cannot carry a tune and was pitchy and flat. One could see the surprise on some of the faces in the audience although most just sang along and could not really hear him anyway. It somehow seems awfully suspicious that this man is staking claims more than 40 years after the record came out, and then only after the other writers and the producer all died. I remember the 1983 Bananarama version from when I was in school, but have heard the 1969 original from time to time. We wanted to use it for a team homemade video which turned out to be far more complicated and expensive than it sounded, and I started looking into all of this more. I came across this page and youtube vids that were horrible and end up scratching my head. All I know is that any producer that hires him for a concert should be prepared to refund money.Maxwell - Boston
On October 12th 1969, "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye" by Steam entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #76; and on November 30th, 1969 it peaked at #1 {for 2 weeks} and spent 16 weeks on the Top 100...
The two weeks that it was at #1, the #2 record was "Leaving On A Jet Plane" by Peter, Paul and Mary {and it was also that record that bumped Steam out of the top spot}...
Steam had one other record make the Top 100, "I've Gotta Make You Love Me", it stayed on the chart for 7 weeks, peaking at #46.
Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
I heard that Richard Nixon was a huge fan of this song, and even requested it be played at his funeral.Randy - Battle Creek, Mi
Who is Ray Coria? (not sure of last name spelling).
Says he was the drummer for this song and Steam drummer. Has gold record framed on wall.
Ctrocker - Bridgeport, Ct
I see Only one true comment on where it was first used at sporting events, Comiskey Park in Chicago. The organist started playing the "hey hey hey goodbye" part when s Sox player hit a homer, the term " you can kiss it goodbye " was commonly used by the broadcasters, hence the easy transition from the title. The fans of course saw the obvious and would sing along.Ce - Mesa, Az
Budd, and also, Rupert Holmes was not the "voice" of The Archies. That honor goes to Ron Dante.Ronald - Pendleton, , Sc
"He might be thrillin' baby, but my love, so dog-gone willin'" WOW. Some of the best rhyming lyrics to a song, EVER, and even better when you sing them along loud and passionately:
He might be thrillin' baby but a-my love (my love, my love)
So dog-gone willin'
So kiss him (I wanna see you kiss him. Wanna see you kiss him)
Go on and kiss him goodbye, now
Camille - Toronto, Oh
No cover of this song can match the one performed by The Nylons in the 80s. It would make a dead man's toe tap.Esskayess - Dallas, Tx
Brit girl group Bananarama covered this song in 1982 on thier debut LP,"Deep Sea Skiving".Richard - Calimesa, Ca
Sad news... Paul Leka passed away 12 Oct 2011 at the age of 68.Joshua - New Berlin, Wi
hey budd from n.y. where do you get your information from?? leka had nothing to do with the 1910 fruit gum co. and 12 writers did not write this song.and gary decarlo and garret scott are the SAME PERSON.if you were there,you would have known that. I WAS THERE !!and they were not staff writers for buddah records.by the way,the record was on the mercury records subsidiary label fontana records.Bill - Ocean View, Nj
The now defunct NHL franchise Quebec Nordiques used to play this song every time the game's outcome was decided in favor of the Nordiques. The team moved from Le Colisee to Denver's Pepsi Center in 1995 and promptly won the Stanley Cup in their first year in Colorado.John - Grand Island, Ny
1969 was an interesting year,a lot of history. I loved growing up in the 60's.Chip - Stratford, Ct
My dad used to tell me a story about this song.. For the FIFA 1970 World Cup, Germany played in Leon, every time they were wining the game the crowd started singing "Alemania, Alemania Hey Hey Alemania"

Alemania is the Spanish word for Germany, used like this sounds exactly as the song.
Javier - Irapuato, Mexico
The drummer, the one you hear, was William "Bill" Bayers, he was only 17 at the time, he lived in Bridgeport Conn. He never received any payment for being the drummer on such a one hit wonder song. He and his family moved to Orlando in the 70's to work at Disney World as drummers, his father, and his brother were in the original fife and drum in front of Presidents Hall, they later were sent to work at Epcot to perform there. He was/and I am sure still is a brilliant drummer.Carla - Orlando, Fl
This song sounds fabulous on the ipod with earbuds. Just a fabulous beat. It's a song I always wish Cher would cover & have the radio play it, I think it'd be a huge hit for her.Camille - Toronto, Oh
to budd from n.y. the archies are ron dante not rupert holmes,it's dale frashuer not dale fruesco it wasn't written to be bad just a B side.Bill - Ocean View, Nj
tommy james did not write this song!!Bill - Ocean View, Nj
Five members of the "STEAM ROAD BAND"-(Hank,Tom,Jay,Bill,George) were also members of another Connecticut band called "SPECIAL DELIVERY" who had a single release in 1968 on Verve Records called "HELLO LOVE" Verve-VK 10606.George - Ansonia, Ct
I can't believe someone actually intended this song to be a B-side throw-away song. The rhythm section is complexly layered. It sounds like it combines at least 2 drum sets, bongos, a zylaphone, and chimes. A true musical genius arranged this song.Fran - Stockton, Ca
I was associated with Paul Leka back in the 60's and I remember being his studio in Bridgeport, listening to a rough mix of NA NA Hey Hey. It was pretty wild, and never thought this song would turn out to be as big as it did. I played a few rocl&roll gigs with Gary De Carlo, and he still collects royalties from that song!Bob - Westport, Ct
steam was the perfect name for a blue eyed soul group-hot,white and wet.Eric - Gnash, Tn
Working for Paul in the mid to late 70's, we would sometimes find ourselves in his studio (Connecticut Recording Studios, on Main Street in Bridgeport), late at night, seeing what would happen if we me put Na-Na to a disco beat. Or perhaps run it threw a new effect.
Paul was an incredible genus, and well ahead of his time, and a loyal friend. I too once lived in the NW CT facility - a piece of heaven.
David - Easton, Ct
This song was written by a team of 12 staff songwriters who worked for Paul Leka, Gary DeCarlo and Dale Fruesco who were the satff songwriters of Buddah records in the late 70's. True, it was written in one session and true, it was to have been a B-side. I was there... written in studio with the intent on being as bad as possible.
Paul Leka was never a member of any bands during that period, but as a member of Buddah Records was directly responsible for the Bubble Gum sounds with such bands as the Lemon Pipers (who evolved into Ram Jam with their hit "Black Betty", The Archies (who was actually Rupert Holmes of "Pina Colada Song" fame),and the 1910 Fruitgum Company. Paul was also later directly responsible for the legendary Harry Chapin (and did occasionally play keyboard during performances. Last time I saw Paul he was living in Northern Connecticut.
Budd - Ny, Ny
Paul Leka was not a member of the Lemon Pipers, merely a songwriter for them.Edward - Washington, Dc
I have heard that they "drummed" on the table and pots and pans because they originally intended this song to be a "B" sideJoe Ardinger - Fairfax, Va
I bought this 45 as a kid. I've since decided that the famous chorus is very reminiscent of the fade-out section of Hey Jude. Towards the end, the chorus starts out quietly and fades up; the fade-up is rather clumsy!Fyodor - Denver, Co
An unlikely number one song for a single that was intended to be a "B" side. Who would have thought that the song would be popular again thanks to the White Sox. I really like The Nylons version. It's one of the best songs to sing in the shower.Howard - St. Louis Park, Mn
This song was remade by the band Bus Stop (apparently called London Bus Stop or some such nonsense in the US) as Na Na. The same group has also remade Kung Fu Fighting by Carl Douglas, Jump by Van Halen, and You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet by Bachmann Turner Overdrive.Confusing - Sydney, Australia
Steam hailed from Bridgeport, Connecticut's largest city, a crappy place struggling to survive in the wake of investment pull-outs caused by the revelations of the decadent corruption of ex-Mayor/now-inmate Joe Ganim. (One of Connecticut's most disgusting ringleaders in a wave of atrocious and more-than-arrogant political crime to rock the state, which includes it's now ex-Governor/now-inmate John Rowland.) We have a kick-ass Attorney General, thank God, in Dick Blumenthal. He will be our governor in not too long. But it's about time I digress (sorry.) Steam's management compromised a bit when they formed an all-new touring band by the same name. Not the first time this has happened. It even happened to Fleetwood Mac at one point. I guess you could call Bridgeport the captial of compromise.Brian - Meriden, Ct
Despite the fact that this song has become a staple of baseball stadiums everywhere, few know that it was actually first used at Comiskey Park with the Chicago White Sox.
Go Sox!
Sam - Chicago, Il
An a cappella group called the Nylons released a version of this, too, in the mid-1980s.Deb - Boston, Ma
i heard that tommy james wrote this song after he wrote crystal blue persasion. becausee he was to write a song for them. but decided to keep it then he wrote ney ney hey hey kiss him goodbye for steamGary - Albertville, Al
this song was used on remember the titans in a few scenes.Caitlin - Sailsbury, Nc