Gary DeCarlo, singer of the popular ’60s hit “Na Na Hey Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye),” has died after a battle with cancer, a close friend has announced. He was 75.
The musician died in hospice care in Connecticut with his wife by his side, DeCarlo’s friend Pat Horgan told TMZ. Horgan also announced the death in a Facebook post. DeCarlo had lung cancer that spread throughout his body, the Connecticut Post reports, and a GoFundMe page had been started last year to cover medical expenses.
“I try to stay positive,” DeCarlo told the Post of his illness last summer. “But there is always the thought that you won’t get cured.”
He frequently posted updates about his health to Facebook, writing in a March message: “Just came back from seeing my doctor, I have to start 10 weeks of radiation on my left side now. My chest and groin areas. I’m starting to feel like a bagel. This is gonna take a lot longer [than] I thought.”
In his most recent post, on June 11, DeCarlo wrote: “Guess who has a fractured shoulder to go along [with] all the other medical problems.”
The Early Days
The hit, “Na Na Hey Hey,” reached the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1969, Rolling Stone reports. The song has become somewhat of an anthem throughout the years, famously featured in 2000’s Remember the Titans, at sporting matches, and most recently used by House Democrats to taunt Republicans pushing the controversial Trumpcare, according to the Boston Globe.
Still DeCarlo was not as well known as the song he co-wrote and sang lead on. When the track was first released, a group of men — not including DeCarlo — were hired to promote and lip-sync the track in a band called Steam, although none of them actually contributed to the song, according to Rolling Stone.
“That hurt me,” DeCarlo told the Post. “I remember driving to the railroad station hearing the song on the radio and just wanting to yell out the window, ‘That’s me! … I fell into a deep depression.”
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He finally received credit for the song thanks to a revealing 2011 documentary, My Music: ’60s Pop, Rock & Soul by PBS host TJ Lubinsky, which aired on public television and acknowledged DeCarlo’s part in the song.