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Len Barry, Dovells lead singer and 1960s solo star, dead at age 78

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Len Barry circa 1980; David Redfern/Redferns

Len Barry, lead singer of the Philadelphia doo-wop group The Dovells who also found solo success with the 1965 smash “1-2-3,” died Thursday of bone marrow cancer, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports. He was 78.

Barry, who was born Leonard Borisoff, joined the group that became The Dovells while in high school during the late 1950s. In 1961, The Dovells scored a smash hit with “Bristol Stomp,” which reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100. The band had several more top-40 hits during the next year, including “You Can’t Sit Down, which peaked at #3 in 1963.

After launching a solo career, Barry had a major hit with “1-2-3,” which made it to #2 on the Hot 100.

Barry also became a prolific songwriter and producer, working with a variety soul and R&B artists. In 1969, he produced the top 20 hit “Keem-O-Sabe,” a tune his mother wrote that was recorded a studio group he put together called The Electric Indian that featured a young Daryl Hall.

In 2008, Barry published his first novel, Black-Like-Me, while a new book by the singer, titled Prose & Cons, is expected to be released later in 2020. Len also had been working on a new single called “Poetry” at the time of his death.

“My dad was really someone who did not think much of falling in with the norm,” Barry’s son, Spencer, tells The Philadelphia Enquirer. “He was so creative people sometimes underestimated his intellect. He followed his own path. His mind went places most people never thought to go. He was funny, witty, and always ahead of his time.”

Barry is survived by his ex-wife, Elaine, son Spencer, daughter Bia and two grandchildren.

By Matt Friedlander
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