The Four Fellows

The Four Fellows will always be remembered for "Soldier Boy," a definitive mid-'50s hit. Jim McGowan (lead), Dave Jones (tenor), Teddy Williams (baritone), and Larry Banks (bass) originally formed in Brooklyn, NY, calling themselves the Schemers, which they changed to the Four Fellows after landing an early TV appearance.

In 1954, they recorded one single for Derby Records, but it failed to gain an audience. They soon signed with Phil Rose's newly formed Glory Records and recorded a handful of singles, including "Grow Along With Me," which featured a lead vocal by Betty McLaurin. In the late spring of 1955, the Four Fellows recorded "Soldier Boy," which earned them a spot on the bill of Tommy Smalls' Dr. Jive's R&B Revue at the Apollo Theater in June of that year, performing alongside Harvey Fuqua's Moonglows, Gene & Eunice, the Nutmegs, Bo Diddley, and Buddy Johnson & His Orchestra with Ella Johnson and Nolan Lewis. Meanwhile, "Soldier Boy" was covered by many popular artists, including Sunny Gale and Edyie Gorme.

The group successfully toured the South and Midwest and ended the year by performing at the big Christmas Revue at the Brooklyn Paramount Theater. They were less successful with their releases, however, and didn't hit again (after several attempts) until August of 1956, when up-tempo "I Sit in My Window" was released. Additional singles faltered.

In 1957, the Four Fellows added Toni Banks (formerly of Three Guys and a Doll) as a lead vocalist and recorded a final single for Glory, but it failed to generate enough sales or airplay to merit keeping the band on their roster and except for the occasional backup singing job -- including working with folk-blues artist Josh White -- the Four Fellows career came to an end before the dawn of the '60s. ~ Bryan Thomas

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