Paul Leka, Co-Writer of ‘Na Na Hey Hey,’ Dead at 68
Songwriter and producer Paul Leka, who wrote the familiar chorus of the song ‘Na Na Hey Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye),’ died of lung cancer on October 12 near his home in Sharon, Connecticut. He was 68 years old.
Leka’s accomplishments are many — he wrote and produced ‘Green Tambourine,’ a 1967 number one hit for the psychedelic soft-rock band the Lemon Pipers, signed REO Speedwagon to its first record contract, and produced four Harry Chapin albums.
But he’ll probably be best remembered for the song ‘Kiss Him Goodbye,’ which is now a staple at many sporting events. Ironically, the catchy chorus was a happy accident, conceived when the song was a B-side to another single.
Leka and co-writer Gary DeCarlo wanted to ensure ‘Kiss Him Goodbye’ wouldn’t be accidentally played instead, so they added the “na na na na” bits to make the song longer than four minutes — which at the time exceeded the standard on-air playing time.
Nevertheless, the song was released as a single and went to number one in 1969. Years later, in 1977, an organist for the Chicago White Sox began playing it to taunt opposing teams, and a sports anthem was born.
Leka is survived by his wife, Engjellushe; their son, Alexander; two children from a previous marriage, Derek and Heather; and a sister, Evelyn Kreta.