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The Detergents got a Top Twenty hit in early 1965 with one of the wittiest rock parodies ever heard to that point, "Leader of the Laundromat." The takeoff on the then-recent Shangri-Las' smash "Leader of the Pack" turned the story around so that a guy was dating a leader of a laundromat, rather than being a tale of a tough chick dating a motorcycle gang chief. The track was pretty musically solid, too, with well-placed interjections of sound effects of a revving motorcycle that wouldn't start and low, dramatic booming piano notes, answered by the record's key punch line: "Who's that banging on the piano? I dunno!" Its topical satire also meant it dated so quickly that it rarely made the playlists on oldies stations, but it became a big favorite on Dr. Demento's program in the '70s. It may be stretching things, but the relatively hip and sophisticated parody of "Leader of the Laundromat" in some ways foreshadowed the kind of ironic-comedic pop/rock pastiches of Frank Zappa, though Zappa took it much further lyrically and musically.
"Leader of the Laundromat" was written by Paul Vance and Lee Pockriss, whose previous credits included Perry Como's "Catch a Falling Star" and Brian Hyland's inane 1960 chart-topper "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini." To perform "Leader of the Laundromat," the pair recruited Ron Dante, Vance's nephew Danny Jordan, and Tommy Wynn. The single was quickly followed by an album, The Many Faces of the Detergents, which was also filled with silly parodies of recent rock and pop hits, though the rest of the songs had far less imagination and humor than "Leader of the Laundromat." The Detergents also had some subsequent singles, again in the satirical vein, like "Double-O-Seven" (mocking James Bond) and "I Can Never Eat at Home Anymore" (spurred by the Shangri-Las' hit "I Can Never Go Home Anymore").
The Detergents were actually not a studio-only group, as some might assume. They toured and appeared in a 1966 movie, Don't Worry I'll Think of a Title, before breaking up. While Ron Dante didn't exactly become well-known to the public, his voice was subsequently heard by many millions of people, as he was the lead singer (as a session vocalist) on the Archies' hits, including "Sugar, Sugar." Dante was also the voice of the Cuff Links, who had a Top Ten hit in 1969 with "Tracy," written by none other than Paul Vance and Lee Pockriss. Dante also sang many commercial jingles, and produced records by Barry Manilow, Irene Cara, Cher, and others.
The Detergents were an American music group consisting of Ronnie (Ron) Dante, Danny Jordan, and Tommy Wynn. The group's speciality was parody songs, as with their first and best-known hit record, "Leader of the Laundromat", written and produced by Paul Vance and Lee Pockriss. It was a spoof of the then current hit song "Leader of the Pack."
The lead vocal on "Leader of the Laundromat" was by Danny Jordan who was Paul Vance's nephew. Jordan had had a 1960 single release on Kapp Records' Leader label: "Just Couldn't Resist Her With Her Pocket Transistor" (writers: Jack Keller/ Larry Kolber), a disc highly reminiscent of the then recent "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini" by Leader artist Brian Hyland and like that #1 hit produced by Vance. Vance also produced a 1962 collaboration between Jordan and Artie Wayne: "Find a Little Happiness" a Diamond Records release credited to Jordan and Wayne.
By 1964 Dante, Jordan and Wynn were all staff writers and session singers for Don Kirshner's Aldon Music: that year the three eighteen-year-olds had collaborated in writing the Ronnie Dante single "Little Lollipop" and as the Cabin Kids the trio were recording surf music style songs for planned release on the Screen Gems label when Vance approached them to record "Leader of the Laundromat" as the Detergents.
The success of "Leader of the Laudromat" predicated the abandonment of the Cabin Kids in favor of the Detergents and as such Dante, Jordan and Wynn appeared on several music oriented television shows of the day, such as Shindig! and Hullabaloo also touring with Dick Clark's Caravan of Stars. The group was active from 1964 until 1966.
The Detergents made a second and final appearance on the Billboard Hot 100 with "Double-O-Seven" a lament by a teenager whose girlfriend is neglecting him to see James Bond movies; the track reached #89 in the spring of 1965.
The Detergents again spoofed the Shangri-Las by recording "I Can Never Eat Home Any More," a parody of the Shangri-las hit "I Can Never Go Home Any More."
After "Leader of the Laundromat" was released, the composers of "Leader of the Pack", Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich and George "Shadow" Morton, filed a lawsuit against the group. The suit was ultimately settled out of court. Coincidentally just three years later, in 1968, Dante began working alongside songwriter-producer Jeff Barry as the lead vocalist for the briefly, hugely successful cartoon group, The Archies.