Paul Vance, one of the most successful songwriters of the early 1960s bubblegum pop era, died on May 30 at the age of 92.
Vance and co-writer Lee Pockriss, both born Joseph Paul Florio, were songwriting machines as staff writers in New York’s legendary Brill Building hit factory. Vance is credited with almost 300 songs, including the classics Catch A Falling Star, Playground of My Mind, and Tracy, among others.
Brian Hyland’s version of Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini, on the other hand, dominated AM radio at the time, making him a teen idol. The song went to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and became a worldwide smash. Vance’s daughter, who was too nervous to wear a bikini in public, is said to have inspired the song.
The songwriting team’s popularity was a double-edged sword, as they were labeled as novelty songwriters. The Detergents’ “Leader of the Laundromat,” a spoof of the Shangri-Las’ “Leader of the Pack,” solidified their status.
As the bubblegum period faded, Vance departed from music and went on to become a successful harness racehorse owner and breeder.
Paula, his daughter, is his only surviving relative. There were no details about the memorial available.