In the quite successful small industry of making string quartet versions of rock and pop music, the Hampton String Quartet has been one of the more durable players. Joining forces in the mid-'80s not long after the Kronos Quartet released its version of "Purple Haze," the members of the quartet were trained (with one exception) at New York's Juilliard School and have cultivated independent careers in the classical and soundtrack spheres. Their activities as a quartet, however, have been focused mostly upon arrangements of well-known rock and pop pieces by the likes of Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, and Jimi Hendrix. They have also provided string quartet parts for recordings by quite a number of top pop recording artists, ranging from Michael Jackson to Britney Spears (on "Heart," included on the Your #1 Requests...And More! album originally distributed through the McDonald's restaurant chain).
Its four-CD What If Mozart Wrote series on the RCA label, featuring Mozart-ized versions of such favorites as "Born to Be Wild" and even "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus," has achieved sales of a reported 750,000 copies, and the quartet has continued to attract audiences to such top venues as Carnegie Hall and London's Queen Elizabeth Hall even as other similar quartets have followed with large amounts of music in a similar vein. They have appeared on NBC's Today Show and on the BBC, among numerous other broadcast and cable outlets. In 1988, the quartet earned a Grammy nomination for best concept video with its rendition of the Silhouettes' "Get a Job." The Hampton String Quartet is composed of Regis Iandiorio (first violin), Abe Appleman (second violin), Richard Maximoff (viola), and John Reed (cello); all except Appleman are original members. Their concerts include such rock trappings as smoke and lighting manipulation in addition to amplification. ~ James Manheim