#53: Turn Down Day by the Cyrkle

City: Hamilton, ON
Radio Station: CKOC
Peak Month: September 1966
Peak Position in Hamilton ~ #2
Peak position in Vancouver ~ #12
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ #16
YouTube: “Turn Down Day
Lyrics: “Turn Down Day

Don Dannemann was born in 1944 in Brooklyn, NY. By age eight, he started playing piano. In 1961, he formed The Rhondells at Lafayette College in Easton (PA). Tom Dawes was born in Albany (NY) in 1943. He co-founded The Rhondells with Dannemann. Earl Pickens also joined the group, playing keyboards and bass guitar. Marty Fried (alias Troy Honda) joined the band when they needed  a drummer in 1963. The Rhondells covered songs by the Four Seasons, the Beach Boys, Beatles and other recording artists into the mid-60s. The four band members were performing as the Rhondells in Atlantic City, N.J., when they were discovered by an associate of Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein. A that point, The Rhondells had released one garage rock single titled “Don’t Say That You Love Me”.

Don Danneman recalls how the name for the band was changed from The Rhondells to The Cyrkle. “Brian handed me a card and said, “Here is your name,” at one of our recording sessions. I always thought it was him. But I saw Earl last year, and Earl said, “No, no, no! It was John who gave the name to Brian.”

In 1965, Tom Dawes was part of the backing band on a tour with Simon & Garfunkel. Paul Simon then offered The Cyrkle the song “Red Rubber Ball”. The very cheery song after a break-up caught the attention of DJs.

In the spring of 1966, “Red Rubber Ball” began to climb the pop charts. In Canada, the single peaked at #1 in Kingston (ON), Montreal, Toronto, #2 in Hamilton (ON) and Winnipeg (MB), #3 in Vancouver, Lloydminster (AB), Edmonton, and Windsor (ON), and #6 in Regina (SK).

When The Cyrkle released their debut album, Red Rubber Ball, the membership was Don Dannemann, Tom Dawes and Marty Fried.

Turn Down Day by the Cyrkle
The album liner notes boast,”The Cyrkle is as talented and fresh a group as there is around rock music today. They first gained a following during appearances at the Downtown discotheque in New York, picking up some more fans as a result of their performance on Hullabaloo, and since having been booked on the latest American Beatles tour…”

The liner notes add, “Marty Fried (alias Troy Honda) drummist (sic) and gin ball machine operator from scenic New Jersey, who calls himself Fried because, as a drummist, he has freed himself from the conventional restrictions of time and tempo.”

Brian Epstein arranged for The Cyrkle to be an opening act for The Beatles on their three-week tour of North America in the summer of 1966. Tom Dawes recalled years later in an interview with the Morning Call, in Allentown (PA), the three-week tour “was sort of a life adventure.” Beatles-related hysteria meant they “couldn’t leave the hotel. . . . There wasn’t anything you could do but watch TV and play poker with the Beatles.” In addition to The Cyrkle, other opening acts before the Beatles appeared on stage were The Ronettes and Bobby Hebb. Don Danneman remembers, “There was one concert where it was just about to rain and they had to get the Beatles on. But it wasn’t really raining yet, so we followed the Beatles. The Beatles opened for us! The other bands had already been on, so we were the only ones after them.” The Beatles, The Cyrkle, Bobby Hebb and The Ronettes all played in concert at Maple Leaf Stadium in Toronto on August 17, 1966. Another band, The Remains, were part of the tour.

Turn Down Day by the Cyrkle
Beatles Tour poster – San Francisco, August 29, 1966

The Cyrkle briefly went on hiatus in 1966, when Dannemann enlisted in the US Coast Guard. When he returned, he had a buzz cut and was often seen on television and promotional photographs with this hairstyle. The Cyrkle’s next single was “Turn Down Day”.

Turn Down Day by the Cyrkle
“Turn Down Day” was co-written by Jerry Keller. Keller was born in Fort Smith, Arkansas, in 1937. After graduating from high school in 1955, Keller formed the Tulsa Boy Singers. He was introduced to Pat Boone in the mid-50s while attending the same church in Tulsa. Boone recommended a manager to help him with his career when Keller moved in 1956 to New York City. In 1959, Keller had a number-one hit in the UK titled “Here Comes Summer” and #8 in Norway. The single reached #3 in Toronto and #6 in Vancouver, and #14 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the USA. “Here Comes Summer” later on appeared in the films American Graffiti and Good Morning Vietnam. Keller had a followup release, “Loveable”, which climbed to #17 in Toronto in November ’59. His single “Be Careful How You Drive Young Joey” was a Top 20 hit in 1961 in Halifax, NS. And in 1963, “What Happens When He Comes Home” was a #14 hit for Jerry Keller in Montreal.

Jerry Keller later wrote “Almost There”, a #2 hit for Andy Williams in the UK in 1964.  Keller went on to be a number-one-call vocalist for television jingles throughout the 1970s and 1980s. In 1965, he wrote the soundtrack for the thriller film with Joan Crawford titled I Saw What You Did. In 1969, he wrote the soundtrack for the comedy film Angel in My Pocket. In 1977, Jerry Keller appeared in the romance film You Light Up My Life. This is the same film that the title track, “You Light Up My Life” was released as a number-one Grammy Award-winning single by Debbie Boone. The following year, Keller was cast in another romance film, If Ever I See You Again.

Don Danneman recalls, Earl Pickens wasn’t on the whole album, but he did play on “Turn Down Day”. Indeed, the liner notes on Red Rubber Ball state “Turn Down Day again with Don singing lead aided by Tom, featuring Tom on sitar, and Earl Pickens (part-time Cyrkle)…” Dannemann notes, Earl “was always part of the band, but because he was in medical school, he couldn’t commit and sign the record company or management contracts. He stayed with The Cyrkle through the end of the summer before returning to medical school at the University of Florida. Then Mike (Losekamp) joined the group that September (1966) on keyboards.”

“Turn Down Day” was an ode to just passing time and having fun in the summer:
It’s much too groovy a summer’s day
to waste running ’round in the city.
But here on the sand I can dream away,

or look at the girls if their pretty.

The guy passes the time “lying around doing nothing.” He takes in the soft summer breeze, rolling surf, the sound of children laughing. In this state of mind, he observes of himself and others at the beach, “Someone’s radio has the news tuned in, but nobody cares what he’s sayin’.” Of course, he can’t have turn down days one after the other. We get a hint that there are responsibilities he’ll have to attend to: “things that are waiting to mess my mind, will just have to wait ’til tomorrow…”

“Turn Down Day” peaked at #2 in Hamilton (ON), Miami, Keene (NH), Fort Worth (TX), and Baltimore, #3 in Dayton (OH), #4 in Lansing (MI), Hartford (CT), Troy (NY), and Toronto, #5 in Fargo (ND), Saint John (NB), and Midland (TX), #6 in Erie (PA), #6 in Buffalo, Dallas, and Milwaukee, #7 in Denver, Wilmington (DL), St. John’s (NL), Toledo (OH), Winnipeg (MB), and Manchester (NH), #8 in Washington DC, Burlington (VT), Peace River (AB), and Boston, #9 in Cincinnati (OH), Worcester (MA), Flint (MI), Medford (OR), Houston, Oklahoma City (OK), and Columbus (OH), and #10 in Seattle, Omaha (NE), Fort Wayne (IN), and New Haven (CT).

The Cyrkle released a second studio album, Neon. The debut single was “Please Don’t Ever Leave Me”, which charted most successfully in Canada in Toronto, where it reached the Top Ten. But in the USA, the single stalled nationally at #59 on the Hot 100. Don Danneman recalls, “We turned down “The 59th Street Bridge Song.” We had our next song picked out, “Please Don’t Ever Leave Me.” It was our first flop.”

While “I Wish You Were Here” cracked the Top 30 in Hamilton (ON), Kitchener (ON), Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. Six more non-album single releases in 1968 all failed to prove commercially successful. By the end of 1968 The Cyrkle split up.

In the 1970s, Dannemann and former bandmate Tom Dawes worked as professional jingle writers. Dannemann wrote jingles for Continental Airlines and Swanson Foods. He also penned the “uncola” jingle for 7 Up. Dannemann spent the next few decades working in advertising, and in the 1970s, opened the jingle business “Mega-Music” in Manhattan. He retired in 2008 and in the 2010s formed a 60’s cover band called The Gas Pump Jockeys. Dawes wrote the Alka-Seltzer ear worm “Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz, oh, what a relief it is.” Other jingles Dawes either wrote or co-wrote are “Coke Is It!” for Coke-a-Cola, “We’re American Airlines, Doing What We Do Best” and “Something Special in the Air” for American Airlines, “You, You’re the One” for McDonald’s, and “Our L’eggs Fit Your Legs” for L’eggs hosiery. Tom and his spouse, Ginny, penned the book, lyrics and music for the off-Broadway musical, “Talk of the Town”, which ran for nearly two years at the Bank Street Theater. Tom Dawes died in November 2007 after a stroke.

The Cyrkle performed for the first time to a live audience for the filming of a promotional video, and to record a live album, Full Cyrkle, in November 2016. They performed professionally for the first time in five decades three months later in February 2017 in Columbus, Ohio. On October 13, 2017, The Cyrkle began touring nationally, starting in Lakewood, New Jersey, typically appearing with other classic rock contemporaries from the 1960s music era. There most recent concerts were part of the Flower Power Cruise out of Fort Lauderdale, from March 21-28, 2024. Don Dannemann and Mike Losekamp head up the current iteration of The Cyrkle.

Original drummer Marty Fried, became a bankruptcy lawyer based in the lower peninsula of Michigan. He died at the age of 77 in 2021.  Keyboard player, Earl Pickens, established himself as a surgeon in north Florida.

June 17, 2024
Ray McGinnis

Valerie J. Nelson, “Thomas Dawes, 64, Musician, Jingle Writer,” Los Angeles Times, November 6, 2007.
Robert Barry Francos, “The Cyrkle: We Had A Good Thing Going,” Blitz!, November-December 1982.
Esther Allweiss Ingber, “Martin L. Fried, Lawyer was a Rock Star,” The Jewish News, Detroit, MI, September 23, 2021.
Philip Hellman, “One-hit wonder? Keyboardist from ’60s band Cyrkle says Gators won’t be,” Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville, FL, October 9, 2015.
Warren Kurtz, “Fabulous Flip Sides – The Cyrkle Interview,” Goldmine Magazine, April 15, 2019.
Flower Power Cruise 2024 – Lineup,” jambes.com.
The Story and Music of Jerry Keller,” MentalItch.com.
Kyle Cary, “The Meaning Behind The Song: Here’s Comes Summer by Jerry Keller,” oldtimemusic.com, September 7, 2023.

Turn Down Day by the Cyrkle
CKOC 1150-AM Hamilton (ON) Top Ten | September 30, 1966*
* “Turn Down Day” peaked at #2 on the CKOC chart the week of Sept 23/66

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