SUMMER 1934 - EARLY/36
Jerry Daniels(tenor voice, tenor guitar),
Orville "Hoppy" Jones(bass voice, cello strung as bass or bass),
Ivory "Deek" Watson(2nd tenor voice, tipple or tenor guitar),
Charlie Fuqua(baritone voice, guitar)
Jerry, Deek, Charlie and Hoppy in the summer of 1934 when the first Ink Spots group was formed.
|The "original" original Ink Spots
group as this was the first group to perform using this name. The last known
performance of the King, Jack and Jester predecessor group was 1Jul/34 on
radio station WSAI, Cincinnati and the first known performance of this Ink
Spots group was at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem, New York beginning 3Aug/34.
Therefore, the Ink Spots presumably came into being sometime after 1July
but before 3August. In a short 5 weeks the King, Jack and Jester (Deek,
Charlie and Jerry) added Orville "Hoppy" Jones to the group, moved to New
York and changed their name.
After appearing at the Apollo, they appeared at the Roxy Theatre (see photo above) and are reported to have played at a number of other theaters(see below). In addition to singing and playing instruments, there was a certain amount of dancing during their shows.
Sometime prior to 6 Oct/34, they also appeared in a Universal movie, What A Business, that starred Smith & Dale, although it was not released until 1935 and received little acclaim. On 6Oct/34, they left for England on the Ile De France as one support group for a tour by Jack Hylton and his band. In his book, The Story of the Ink Spots, Deek Watson states how rough the trip was for Hoppy. He wore his life jacket at all times - even to sleep - and stayed in his room. The other three Ink Spots did some entertaining of guests on this trip. While overseas, they also appeared on BBC radio and transatlantic broadcasts were made to the United States.
Upon their return to the United States, they launched their recording and radio careers. Their only RCA Victor recordings were made on 4Jan/35 in New York and they commenced nationwide radio broadcasts on the NBC network on 25Feb/35. While their two Victor records seemed to have little success, they were very successful on radio and broadcast about 125 of their own, mainly 15 minute, radio shows during the remainder of 1935 alone (as far as we know, only one show, that of 9Aug/35, survives).
The NBC radio shows were sustaining (unsponsored) shows but the Ink Spots did a Sinclair Oil sponsored show that was broadcast from Chicago for about a month - something very unusual for a black singing group at the time. They also appeared on other radio shows such as the NBC Minstrels.
As further evidence of their radio success, the Ink Spots quickly moved from being a support act in vaudeville to being headliners billed as radio and screen stars. Their second appearance at the Apollo in November of 1935 shows them top-billed over Chick Webb and His Band with Ella Fitzgerald!
Advertisement from the New York Amsterdam News, 4Aug/34. This is the first known Ink Spots appearance.
Advertisement in "Varieties, &c." section of The Times, London, Monday 15Oct/34
Advertisement from the New York Amsterdam News, 9Nov/35. Already they had top billing.
|Their music comprised fast, swing/jump tunes and they all played instruments - Jerry a tenor guitar and ukelele, Deek a timple or tenor guitar, Hoppy usually a cello tuned like a bass and Charlie a guitar and reportedly, sometimes a tenor banjo. This group ended in early 1936 when Jerry Daniels decided that the money they were earning was not worth the effort and busy schedule. When he returned home to Indianapolis, Moe Gale, the Ink Spots manager arranged to have Bill Kenny replace Jerry Daniels.|
RCA Victor - New York
A side - Your Feet's Too Big
B side - Swingin' On the Strings
This record was rereleased by Victor on Bluebird #6530 in Sept/36.
A side - Swing, Gate, Swing
B side - Don't 'Low No Swingin' In Here
These recordings were released in England on HMV
|Radio: About 150 national NBC Ink Spots shows plus appearances on NBC Minstrels and Gems of Color|
|Vaudeville: Known appearances include the Apollo and Roxy in New York, the Palladium in London, the Hippodrome in Birmingham and the Empire in Glasgow. They are reported to have appeared at the Waldorf-Astoria and Savoy Ballroom in New York, the Howard in Washington, the Regal in Chicago, the Earle and West End in Philadelphia, the Royal in Baltimore, as well as Liverpool, Manchester and Edinburgh in the U.K.|
What A Business
A photoplay in two reels, dialogue by Melvin Aaronson, directed by Milton Schwarzwald and starring Smith & Dale. We believe this movie was made in 1934, prior to their trip to England beginning 6Oct/34 but it was not screened until about May/35. Smith & Dale were apparently interviewing acts for a show and the Ink Spots sang Tiger Rag and Don't 'Low No Swingin' In Here according to Jerry Daniels. (We know of no existing copy of this film and are anxious to locate one.)
Jerry Daniels with a four stringed tenor guitar, Deek Watson with a tenor guitar, Charlie Fuqua with a guitar and Hoppy with his cello strung like a bass.
|Revised - 24AUG/06|