Steam was a classic rock and pop band known for their only hit “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” during the late 60s music era and eventually became a “one hit wonder” song and oldies music classic. “Steam” didn’t really exist as a band, and the track was instead recorded by a group of musicians and songwriters led by songwriter and producer Paul Leka. More on Steam in this article!
Like many other bubblegum pop acts as the 1960s was drawing to a close, Steam was a product of studio concoction. Even though the “band” was non-existent by the time their hit single “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” reached the charts, Steam’s history is somewhat interesting and complex.
The story starts way back in the early 1960s with a Bridgeport, Connecticut-based vocal pop group the Chateaus (though some sources say it was the Glenwoods) who consisted of Dale Frashuer, Gary DeCarlo and Paul Leka who played the piano.
The Chateaus (or Glenwoods) released a handful of singles on Coral and Warner Bros., which became unsuccessful. The band was dissolved soon after, but the members still kept in touch with each other.
Steam’s hit single “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye”
During the latter half of the 1960s Leka then had been doing songwriting and producing duties. Among his credits include The Palace Guard’s “Falling Sugar,” The Lemon Pipers hit “Green Tambourine” and other Pipers tracks as well as songs by The Left Banke. By 1969 Leka was also working for Mercury Records.
Leka also went on to produce four solo tracks for his ex-Chateaus bandmate DeCarlo. However, all four songs impressed Mercury that it wanted to release all of them as an A-side, which means Leka and DeCarlo needed to put songs on the B-side. One of these songs was the one they had written performed eight years ago, “Kiss Him Goodbye.” The “na na na na, na na na na” in the chorus was Leka’s spontaneous idea. As fate would have it, the manager at Mercury overheard them and decided that it should be released as a single instead. Despite objections from Leka, DeCarlo and Frashuer, the suggestion nevertheless pushed through. The three men didn’t want their names to be placed on the record, so they decided to go with Steam.
Steam’s “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” was released in 1969. In December that year the song rose all the way to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 (in the UK it went to #9) and stayed there for a couple of weeks.
With the success of the single, there were demands for Steam to perform live and make TV appearances to support the hit single. But since “Steam” was a fictional group at that time, Leka put together a touring group, which consisted of Bill Steer on vocals, Jay Babina and Tom Zuke on guitars, Mike Daniels on bass, Hank Schorz on keyboards, and Ray Correia on drums. This group toured for the much of 1970.
An eponymous debut album and a handful of other Steam singles followed, none of which made the same commercial impact as “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye.”
To date, the now oldies classic single has sold a total of over six million units.
After the hit…
Leka continued to work as a successful producer and songwriter until his death due to lung cancer in Sharon, Connecticut in 2011, aged 68. Frausher shunned himself from the public eye. Gary DeCarlo started to perform again in 2012, after a long time of being out of the limelight.