Songwriter, producer, arranger & pianist/keyboard player Paul Leka passed away on October 12th. His cause of his death is not known. He was 70.
Leka was not a household name but one of his choruses would become known the world over. In 1969, Leka produced, co-wrote and played keyboards on “Na Na Na Na Hey Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye)” along with several other studio musicians who thought it would amount to nothing and attributed it to a non-existent band called Steam. Little did Leka and company know they would have a million seller on their hands and a song that would be played in every sports arena in this country and beyond.
Prior to his success with “Na Na Na Na Hey Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye)”, Leka served as the producer for The Lemon Pipers and co-wrote their number one hit “Green Tambourine.” He was also associated with acts such as the Left Banke (co-producing their second album The Left Banke Too which includes precious gems like “Dark is the Bark”), REO Speedwagon and Gloria Gaynor.
But when I think of Paul Leka is I think of his association with the late Harry Chapin. Leka produced four of Chapin’s albums (Short Stories, Verities & Balderdash, Portrait Gallery and finally Greatest Stories Live which was co-produced with Steve Chapin and Fred Kewley) including Chapin’s only number one hit “Cat’s in the Cradle.”
Above all else, I remember Leka because I often found his name in the fine print on the albums, 8-tracks, cassettes and CDs I liked. A lot of good music would not have been heard without those names in fine print.