DEAR JERRY: I know you are familiar with the singer Bertell Dache, but how much do you know about him?
I ask this because for as long as I can remember, music books, magazines, album liner notes, and more recently web sites, indicate Bertell Dache is merely a pseudonym used by Tony Orlando in the early 1960s.
As the story is sometimes told, Orlando was under contract at the time with Epic Records, and, as was somewhat common in those days, concealed his identity by using another name.
In fact, using fake names on records is something Orlando did on other occasions.
While not an exact vocal match, Bertell Dache sounded enough like Tony Orlando to float the claim.
Further fueling the story is that Carole King wrote, played on and sang on songs for both Orlando and Dache.
Then I ran across a recent (March 16) blog entry from “palawanabe” which says:
“For 47 years, record collectors have claimed Bertell Dache is Tony Orlando, and radio DJs who specialize in artist bios have perpetuated that myth.
“In my endless quest to collect those rare songs I recently came across a copy of “Not Just Tomorrow, But Always” (a 1961 answer to the Shirelles'
“Will You Love Me Tomorrow”) along with a picture of Bertell.
“He is definitely not Tony Orlando, but a demo singer for Carole King and Gerry Goffin, as was Orlando at that same time. They did sound very similar and when Tony became popular a few years later, the rumor was off to the races.”
Can you settle this conundrum once and for all?
Maurice Loveless, Carlisle, Pa.
DEAR MAURICE: With absolute certainty!
First, palawanabe is not alone. By way of Mitch Mitchell comes this very interesting take on the Dache story:
“My name is Tom Diehl and I am a historian for the Diamond record label.
“Diamond had an artist named Bert Dache who released one single in 1966, “Don't Stop the World for Me” (Diamond 202).
“Bertell was indeed a real person, and a demo singer for Gerry Goffin and Carole King. He passed away in 1987. I have spoken to his nephew, his aunt and his mother, who have all confirmed that he was not Tony Orlando by providing copies of recording contracts, photos, etc. Some of my friends in the music industry also worked with Bert and confirm he was not Tony.
“Session musician Artie Kaplan played saxophone on all of the Dache sides and songwriter Artie Wayne co-wrote some songs with Bert in the early '60s.
“FYI: Carole King added her background vocals live to the mono mixes of his songs in a later session. She was never actually in the studio with Bert.”
Thank you Tom and Mitch.
This case of mistaken identity however believable it may have been is an example of how an untrue story, if repeated often enough, can eventually be regarded as fact.
Count me among those who had no reason to doubt the legend, until just a few days ago I came across some very recently posted online photos of the late Dache. I knew immediately he and Tony Orlando were not the same person because Bertell was a black man.
In 1969, using the name Billy Shields, Tony had a regional hit with “I Was a Boy” (Harbour 304), then as Wind, a Top 30 item titled “Make Believe” (Life 200).
Orlando returned in mid-1970 as Dawn, and scored four consecutive huge hits, “Candida”; “Knock Three Times”; “I Play and Sing”; and “Summer Sand.”
After those, the billing changed, first to Dawn Featuring Tony Orlando, then Tony Orlando & Dawn.