Formed in 1961 by a group of students at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania, The Cyrkle started as a frat band called The Rhondells.
During the summer of 1965, after Don Dannemann graduated with a degree in industrial engineering, the group was spotted by Nat Weiss, a New York lawyer who’d formed a management company with Beatles‘ manager Brian Epstein.
Though the group’s encounters with Epstein were limited, it was the Beatles’ boss who informed the band at a recording session that its name had been changed.
“He actually handed me a card – which I wish to hell I’d kept – with the name on it in his handwriting,” Danneman said. They later learned John Lennon had thought up the new moniker.
The band members’ attempts at writing their own songs had not worked out, and they’d also started turning down good material written by other artists. One evening, for example, they ran into Paul Simon – the co-composer of Red Rubber Ball – who offered them a song they turned down. The title? The Fifty-Ninth Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy).
In 1966, The Cyrkle scored two major hits – Red Rubber Ball (which made it to #2) and Turn-Down Day. They also toured the US in 1966 as support to The Beatles on their American tour (pictured below).
The Cyrkle officially broke up in 1968.
Danneman didn’t have much money; he estimated that in 1966 he made less than $5,000. In early 1969 he decided to take a stab at writing jingles, and later that year, he and a partner formed Mega Music and went on to do hundreds of commercials.
Tom Dawes died on 13 October 2007 from a stroke after carotid artery surgery in New York. He was 64. Drummer Marty Fried passed away on 1 September 2021, aged 77.