All posts filed under: Influences

The Four Preps

T he Four Preps were a white vocal harmony group that recorded for Capitol Records from 1956 to 1967.  Bruce Belland sang lead tenor, Glen Larson, baritone, Marvin Inabnett (later changed to Ingram), high tenor, and Ed Cobb, bass.  Their friend, Lincoln Mayorga, was an unofficial fifth Prep.  He was their musical director, and played piano on and arranged many of their records.  He also accompanied them in concert.  They met while attending Hollywood High School in the early to mid-1950s.In fall 1955, when the school’s annual talent show had attracted only female participants, a desperate call went out to the student body to find guys with any kind of talent.  Belland and company were singers in the school choir, so they quickly formed a group and, drawing on their love for vocal groups like the Crew Cuts, the Four Lads, and the Four Freshmen, worked up an act for the talent show.  They called themselves the Four Preps.  They were a huge hit and began accepting requests to perform at other engagements in the …

The Kingston Trio

I n spring 1957, Frank Werber, was working as a publicist for the Purple Onion, the north-beach area of San Francisco nightclub with a reputation of showcasing new talent during the Beat era, and Hungry nightclub, also in San Francisco.  One night he stopped into The Cracked Pot, a club in Palo Alto, just east of Stanford University, and music history was made.  Some young musicians had ambled onto the stage, guitars and banjo in hand, promising the club’s owner to entertain in exchange for free beer and pretzels.  Werber listened and knew that what he heard would play all across America.  When they finished, the group sat around a table drinking their pay and munching pretzels.  Werber approached and offered to manage them, providing they lose the bass player.  In the resulting personnel shuffle, three members left and two original members returned, transforming the Kingston Quartet into the Kingston Trio.  Werber wrote a personal management contract on a paper napkin that split everything equally four ways.  Twenty-five percent to each of the Trio and …

The Four Freshmen

O n March 21, 1950, bandleader Stan Kenton, touring with his Innovations in Modern Music, was playing a jazz club in downtown Dayton, Ohio, when someone told him there was a terrific vocal quartet playing across town in the Esquire Lounge. After Kenton finished his show, he went over to the Esquire to see what all the fuss was about. Kenton was impressed. The guys harmonized beautifully and sang complicated five-note jazz chords with four voices. As a major Capitol artist and stockholder in the company, Kenton had considerable clout. He called a producer at Capitol and arranged an audition for the group in New York City. Pete Rugolo, Kenton’s former arranger, produced the session at which the quartet recorded five tunes—“Laura,” “Basin Street Blues,” “Dry Bones,” and two others. Capitol president Glenn Wallichs liked what he heard and gave Kenton the green light to invite the band to Los Angeles. Kenton arranged for a one week engagement at Jerry Wald’s on Sunset Boulevard. When public demand stretched one week into eight, Capitol knew they …