ORIGINAL INK SPOTS - GROUP #2

EARLY/36 - NOV/38
MEMBERS:

Bill Kenny(tenor voice), 

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)

Bill, Deek, Hoppy and Charlie when this group was very young.

Bill Kenny's arrival occurred about the time the Ink Spots moved their recording career from RCA Victor to Decca records. This personnel change must have been somewhat traumatic for the other Ink Spots. Kenny did not dance or play an instrument and his music style was not the fast, swing/jump tunes of the old group. Nevertheless, the Ink Spots continued to record and perform their old style of music with Kenny. Only one recording by this group provides a clue to the important changes in music style that were beginning. Kenny previews his forthcoming ballad style of songs on I Wish You the Best of Everything which was recorded in May/38. Radio shows from 14Feb and 18Aug/38 prove that this Ink Spots group had fully-developed the ballad with talking bass style that would later make the next group famous. The songs Tune In On My Heart [14Feb] and So Little Time (and So Much To Do) [18Aug] are both performed with their soon to be trademark 'guitar introduction/Kenny high tenor/Jones talking bass' format. This group continued the frequent pattern of national network broadcasts that was begun by Group #1 but the extent of their vaudeville appearances seems to have been limited (or we do not have support for other performances if they did occur). While they made regular recordings for Decca, none of them had much impact. 
Recordings:

Decca - New York

12May/36 817A - Your Feet's Too Big 

817B - 'T Ain't Nobody's Biz-ness If I Do

 

Their first Decca recording was released on at least two Decca labels

18Jun/36 883A - Christopher Columbus 

883B - Old Joe's Hittin' the Jug 

1036A - Keep Away From My Doorstep 

1036B - Stompin' At the Savoy

The Sunburst 3D label was used for at least five of their early recordings - 817, 883, 1154, 1236 and 1251 

5Feb/37 1154A - With Plenty of Money and You 

1154B - Alabama Barbque 

1731A - Don't Let Old Age Creep Up On You 

1731B - Yes Suh! 

9Apr/37 1236A - Swing High, Swing Low 

1236B - Whoa Babe 

1251A - Let's Call the Whole Thing Off 

1251B - Slap That Bass


This Sunburst label pressing was made in Japan by Polydor
25Mar/38 1789A - Oh! Red 

1789B - That Cat Is High

19May/38 1870A - When the Sun Goes Down 

1870B - I Wish You the Best of Everything 

1870B is the first recorded Bill Kenny ballad but no talking chorus. 
31Aug/38 2044A - Brown Gal 

2044B - Pork Chops 'N Gravy

Radio: About 250 of their own, usually 15 minute, shows for the national red and blue NBC networks plus regular appearances on other shows including Chick Webb's Good Times Society. They also broadcast over WNBF, Binghamton, NY when they appeared at the Bennett Hotel.
Television: On 6 Nov/36, the Ink Spots appeared as part of a 40 minute NBC experimental television broadcast to demonstrate television developments for the press. The broadcast was made from the transmitter on top of the Empire State building to television sets in the RCA building in New York. About their appearance, a Variety article [11Nov/36] stated: "Later, the 'inkspots' - a colored comedy-singing unit - put on a three-minute skit with all the stage makeup trappings. Couple of full length showings were used here, and the boys were in motion besides." They may have been the first major stars to be on a live television show broadcast in the U.S.
Vaudeville: We have been able to find proof of only a few vaudeville appearances by this group. We do have advertisements for regular appearances they made at the Apollo in Harlem and at least 12 weeks at the Bennett Hotel in Binghamton, NY. Other appearances included Levaggi's Grill Room in Boston . We believe there were more and would welcome proof of other appearances.

Advertisement for appearance in Binghamton [Binghamton Sun, 24Dec.37].
Revised-24Aug/06