RIP: Gershwin of the Livery Stables

Paul Vance was a prolific songwriter and producer who wrote over a thousand songs that made it to vinyl. He is best-known as half of the Vance/Pockriss writing team that wrote “Leader of the Laundromat,” “Catch a Falling Star, “Tracy,” “Hot Pants,” “Playground in my Mind” and “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini.”

Vance had a minor hit in 1965, when a demo he recorded of the song, “Dommage, Dommage (Too Bad, Too Bad),” was released as a single. He never showed any interest in being an artist himself, though. His interests were always behind the scenes.

Vance was a prominent harness racing owner, owning 167 horses including Secret Service. The New York Times called him “The Gershwin of the Livery Stables.” His memoir, Catch a Falling Star, is available at most online book stores.

Vance was accidentally declared dead in 2006; a man named Paul van Valkerburgh died, and his obituary claimed that he wrote Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini.

It took Vance several months to re-establish that he was still alive. For most people this might not seem like it would be an issue, but Vance was getting royalty checks for his songs from all over the world. He had to contact every one of the agencies that cut his checks. “Believe me, if they think you’re dead, they ain’t going to send the money,” he told the New York Times.

His daughter Paula, who as a shy 4-year-old was the inspiration for Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini in 1960, sang the female lead alongside David Geddes on the Vance-penned top-10 hit, “Run, Joey, Run” in 1975. Rest in peace, and thanks for the music.

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