A Brief History
Len Barry was born Leonard Borisoff in Philadelphia in 1942. By 1961 he had a record deal
with Cameo Parkway Record Company. His group, The Dovells, with Len as their lead singer, had a #2 record, “Bristol Stomp," after Dick Clark played it on “American Bandstand.” Following that success, the Dovells recorded several other hits, including “You Can’t Sit Down," which reached #3 in 1963.
John Madara and Dave White first recorded Len at Mercury Records, with "Do It Again," which was a new lyric to "You Can't Sit Down," and "Happy Days," that John, Dave and Len wrote together. Nothing happened with the Mercury records and John and Dave moved over to Decca with Len. Their first recording session was "Lip Sync," backed with a remake of "At The Hop," called "At The Hop '65." It had some chart success, but in October of '65, after they began to take Len in a different direction by doing a "ballad with a beat," Len’s musical career would take off when “1-2-3” reached the airwaves and became an instant, worldwide hit. What followed were two other smash hits, "Like A Baby" and Somewhere."
Len was truly one of the great male vocalists and probably one of the most gifted lyric writers I have ever worked with. Dave, Len and I spent a lot of time together. I really love him a lot and one of my great joys in life was working with him.
On the way to the recording session of 1-2-3, we were discussing the middle section of the song. There was a traditional Madara & White break with drums going into the instrumental. Len thought that there should be lyrics there also, on top of the drums. Lenny wrote the bridge minutes before the session started. It is exactly how it ended up on the record.
What I really loved was to wait for Lenny's vocal endings, where he would come up with the greatest ad-libs. They were always so original and exciting.
In a conversation I had with George Harrison, he told me that John Lennon had 123 on his jukebox. It was one of his favorite songs.
What Happened Next?
Len Barry went on to record additional sides with Madara & White and with John on his own,
after Madara & White ended their partnership. Len went on to produce the instrumental hit, "Keem-o-sabe." Len continued to write and produce and also had a successful stage act.
Len passed away on November 5, 2020. He was 78 years old.