Fourteen vocal harmony groups, including the Bee Gees, the Chordettes, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Gladys Knight and the Pips, the Lennon Sisters, the Four Freshmen, the Lettermen, and the Vogue
Fourteen vocal harmony groups, including the Bee Gees, the Chordettes, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Gladys Knight and the Pips, the Lennon Sisters, the Four Freshmen, the Lettermen, and the Vogues, were enshrined in the Vocal Group Hall of Fame last night (Oct. 4) in Sharon, Pa.
The event, hosted by Supremes vocalist Mary Wilson and Goldmine magazine editor Greg Loescher, brought together groups from such diverse musical genres as doo-wop, traditional pop, country, R&B and gospel; groups whose common thread -- vocal harmony -- provided music lovers with unlimited classics.
"I was really happy and pleased that Gladys Knight and the Pips were inducted in the Vocal Group Hall of Fame," said Bubba Knight, one of the Pips. "We used to work with the Mills Brothers in Las Vegas, back in the day -- and to be amongst all these legendary people is quite an honor for us. We just loved what we were doing, and getting these awards is icing on the cake. To be inducted in the Vocal Group Hall of Fame is very special, because it says to us, 'Congratulations, you are team members.'"
As each member or group representative received their Harmony awards, they thanked those who had inspired and guided their careers, said prayers for those who had passed on, and shared their feelings and memories with the audience.
For Nancy Knorr, a current member of the Pied Pipers, the induction honored the memory of the group's original members, who performed with Frank Sinatra and the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. "This museum is living history as far as I'm concerned," she said. "I really feel that a lot of the other vocal groups that are being inducted today are being so because of groups like the original Pied Pipers. It's an honor for us to continue the legacy of the Pied Pipers."
Members of Smokey Robinson and The Miracles -- whose hits included "Tears of a Clown," "Shop Around," and "I Second That Emotion" -- provided one of the most touching moments of the ceremony. Not only did Miracles members Pete Moore and Claudette Robinson receive their Harmony awards, but so too did Gloria White, the widow of Miracles baritone Ronnie White. "Many of the stories that Ron shared with me helped me to know what these guys are all about," she said. "And I know Ron is definitely smiling on us today."
The Chordettes, the 1950's female quartet whose hits included "Lollipop" and "Mr. Sandman," were so thrilled to be inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame that they brought their families with them to share in the experience. "The families are probably more thrilled than we were," said Chordettes member Lynn Evans. "They haven't seen each other for over 30 years, so they were absolutely thrilled. And for me, it was a great thrill -- if it had not been for Jinny Janis, who formed this group so many years ago, none of this would have happened."
The induction ceremonies were originally scheduled for Sept. 12-13, but were rescheduled after the terrorist attacks on the U.S. While the new dates prevented some artists from attending (the Bee Gees, the Oak Ridge Boys, and the McGuire Sisters sent videotaped acceptance speeches), it did not stop the Lennon Sisters. Driving 850 miles from Branson, Mo., Janet, Kathy, and Mimi Lennon arrived in Sharon just in time to receive their Harmony award. "We were just so thrilled -- and we have been singing 46 years -- to be part of all these wonderful groups that we've grown up with that are our idols," Janet Lennon said.
A post-induction concert featured performances by many of the inductees, some of whom hadn't performed together in public for more than a quarter of a century. The four original Vogues -- Bill Burkette, Hugh Geyer, Don Miller, and Chuck Blasko -- performed on stage together for the first time since 1972. Eight past and present members of the Lettermen sang a show-stopping rendition of their hit medley "Goin' Out of My Head" / "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You." The Lennon Sisters performed a medley of songs they originally sang on the Lawrence Welk and Andy Williams shows, while an all-star lineup of the Orioles, the Four Dots, and the Marcels performed the doo-wop classics "Blue Moon" and "Heartaches."