Sunday, October 4, 2015
The Four Freshmen go back to the end of the 1940s and a barbershop quartet-influenced outfit called Hal’s Harmonizers, organized at the Arthur Jordan Conservatory of Butler University in Indiana by two brothers, Ross and Don Barbour. Their repertoire centered on standards such as “Moonglow” and “The Christmas Song,” and they began to show an unusually free, improvisational approach to their harmony singing. These men became one of the top vocal groups of the 1950s, and formed the bridge between ’40s ensembles like Mel-Tones and harmony-based rock & roll bands such as the Beach Boys as well as groups like Spanky & Our Gang and the Manhattan Transfer. The group’s roots
The Four Freshmen had managed to stay competitive with other pop acts through the mid-’60s, and even got a very visible boost from the Beach Boys, in the form of Brian Wilson’s frequent expressions of admiration for the quartet as part of his inspiration behind putting together the rock & roll group’s sound. New lineups of the group have continued to perform into the 21st century, and are considered an artistically valid ensemble — in 2000 the Four Freshmen were voted Vocal Group of the Year by Down Beat magazine’s readers.