ORIGINAL INK SPOTS FAMILY TREE

Our best estimate of the membership of the original Ink Spots groups is set out below. Since pianist/arrangers are included, there are more groups than would be shown if only singing members were included. We have included every group that performed together, even if only for a few days. We would be delighted to receive proof of any errors or additions.

Note: We plan to gradually add support pages to provide more detail on each group and on each group member. We also hope to provide links so you can hear, and see where possible, most groups (there are no audios for a few).
 
 
 

DATE
MEMBERS - GROUP #1
PIANIST/

ARRANGER

Summer/34 - Early/36 Orville "Hoppy" Jones (17Feb/02, Chicago, IL-18Oct/44, NYC) 

Ivory "Deek" Watson (18Jul/09, Mounds, IL-4Nov/69, Washington, DC) 

Jerry Daniels (14Dec/15, -7Nov/95, Indianapolis, IN) 

Charlie Fuqua (20Oct/10-21Dec/71, New Haven, CN)

None
First known performance of the original Ink Spots at Apollo Theatre in Harlem, NYC, 3-9Aug/34. This seems a wonderful picture for this group that danced and sang their "jump" tunes - from right, Jerry, Deek, Hoppy and Charlie..  

 
 
 
 
DATE
MEMBERS -GROUP #2
PIANIST/

ARRANGER

Early 1936 - Nov/38 Orville "Hoppy" Jones 

Ivory "Deek" Watson 

Bill Kenny (12Jun/14, Philadelphia., PA-23Mar/78, Vancouver, BC) 

Charlie Fuqua 

None
Bill Kenny replaced Jerry Daniels before the Ink Spot's first Decca recording on 12May/36. This picture of the original Kenny group was used as a postcard. Clockwise from left, Deek, Hoppy, Charlie and Bill.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 


 
 
 
 
DATE
MEMBERS - GROUP #3
PIANIST/

ARRANGER

Nov/38-Jun/40 Orville "Hoppy" Jones 

Ivory "Deek" Watson 

Bill Kenny 

Charlie Fuqua

Bob Benson

Four Inkspots have added Ed? Benson pianist but will not change number of Ink Spots in billing. [Variety, Wednesday, 16Nov/38]

Photo courtesy of Austin Casey.


 
 
 
 
DATE
MEMBERS - GROUP #4
PIANIST/

ARRANGER

Jun/40-early 1942 Bill Kenny 

Orville "Hoppy" Jones 

Ivory "Deek" Watson 

Charlie Fuqua

This group leaves for Hollywood to make "The Great American Broadcast , Feb/41.

Asa "Ace" Harris (1Apr/10-11Jun/64),
"Ace" Harris replaces Robert Benson as pianist. [Afro-American, Baltimore, 8Jun/40]

 
 
 
 
DATE
MEMBERS - GROUP #5
PIANIST/

ARRANGER

Early 1942 - Sept/43  Bill Kenny 

Orville "Hoppy" Jones 

Ivory "Deek" Watson 

Charlie Fuqua

Bill Doggett (16Feb/16-13Nov/96, NY)

Bill Doggett replaced Ace Harris sometime in early 1942. This photo of Doggett was taken after he left the Ink Spots sometime in the 1950s.

To be complete, Trevor Bacon did "pinch-singing" as a member of this group in place of Deek Watson when he was ill. [Philadelphia Independent, Stroller column, 28Mar/43] Deek's illness covered some months and we do not know how often the Lucky Millinder soloist filled in. Thus, Trevor Bacon did perform briefly with the original Ink Spots.


 
 
 
 
DATE
MEMBERS - GROUP #6
PIANIST/

ARRANGER

Oct/43-10Sep/44 Bill Kenny 

Orville "Hoppy" Jones 

Ivory "Deek" Watson 

Bernie Mackey (29Jul/09-5Mar/80)
 

 

Bill Doggett
Bernie Mackey replaced Charlie Fuqua who was drafted into the army in Oct/43. Mackey's first appearance was at the Stanley Theatre in Pittsburgh, PA [Billboard, 9Oct/43 & Pittsburgh Courier, 16Oct/43]. Photo shows Deek Watson, Bill Kenny, Hoppy Jones (one of the last pictures of Hoppy) and Bernie Mackey.

 
 
 
 
DATE
MEMBERS - GROUP #7
PIANIST/

ARRANGER

Sep11/44-about 1Oct/44 Bill Kenny 

Orville "Hoppy" Jones 

Bernie Mackey

Bill Doggett
After Deek Watson quit (or was forced out of) the group after an appearance in Hartford, CN, 8-10September/44, the Ink Spots performed at the Adams Theatre in Newark and the Royal Theatre in Baltimore as a threesome. [Goldberg, 1998, pg.122]

 
 
 
 
DATE
MEMBERS - GROUP #8
PIANIST/

ARRANGER

1Oct-15?Oct/44 Bill Kenny 

Orville "Hoppy" Jones 

Billy "Butterball" Bowen (3Jan/09, Birmingham, AL-27Sep/82, NYC) 

Bernie Mackey

Bill Doggett
Billy Bowen joined in early October at the Howard Theatre in Washington, D.C.

 
 
 
 
DATE
MEMBERS - GROUP #9
PIANIST/

ARRANGER

15?Oct/44-18Oct/44 Bill Kenny 

Orville "Hoppy" Jones 

Billy "Butterball" Bowen 

Bernie Mackey

Ray Tunia (10May/16-16Aug/83)
Ray Tunia replaces Bill Doggett a few days before Hoppy's death.

 
 
 
 
DATE
MEMBERS - GROUP #10
PIANIST/

ARRANGER

Shortly after 18Oct/44-28Mar/45 Bill Kenny 

Cliff Givens (17Jan/18-6Jun/89) 

Billy "Butterball" Bowen 

Bernie Mackey
 
 

 

Ray Tunia
Hoppy Jones died shortly after collapsing on stage at the Café Zanzibar on October 18th and shortly thereafter Cliff Givens (with cello) from the Southern Sons Quartet replaced him.

 
 
 
 
DATE
MEMBERS - GROUP #11
PIANIST/

ARRANGER

29March/45 - 25Oct/45 Bill Kenny 

Herb Kenny (12Jun/14, Philadelphia, PA-11Jul/92, MD)

Huey Long (25Apr/04, TX-10Jun/09 ) 

Billy "Butterball" Bowen

Ray Tunia

Huey Long said that he and Herb Kenny, Bill's twin brother,  joined the Ink Spots at the same time and first appeared at the Paradise Theater in Detroit. [interview with Bill Proctor, 17Feb/02] This seems to fit with a note in People's Voice, 7Apr/45 that indicated Cliff Givens was leaving the Ink Spots. In spite of stories as to how Herb became an Ink Spot (click on Herb Kenny for more about these stories), Huey said that Bill removed Cliff to make room for his brother. Huey long replaced Bernie Mackey.

 
 
 
DATE
MEMBERS - GROUP #12
PIANIST/

ARRANGER

Oct/26/45-mid-1946 Bill Kenny 

Charlie Fuqua 

Billy "Butterball" Bowen 

Herb Kenny 
 
 
 

 

Ray Tunia
Charlie Fuqua returns from the service to replace Huey Long beginning at Glenn's Rendezvous, Newport, KY. Here, Ray Tunia (seated) works with Bill Kenny, Billy Bowen, Charlie Fuqua and Herb Kenny. 

 
 
 
 
DATE
MEMBERS - GROUP #13
PIANIST/

ARRANGER

mid 1946-May/51 Bill Kenny 

Charlie Fuqua 

Billy "Butterball" Bowen 

Herb Kenny
 

Harold Francis
Photo shows Butterball, Harold Francis (seated at piano) replaced Ray Tunia in mid-1946, Bill, Herb (with cello he never played) and Charlie. This is the last original Ink Spots quartet that performed on Decca records.

 
 
 
 
DATE
MEMBERS - GROUP #14
PIANIST/

ARRANGER

May/51-early/52 Bill Kenny

Charlie Fuqua 

Billy Bowen 

Adriel McDonald (10May/05-1Sep/87)
 

 

Harold Francis
Adriel McDonald (left) replaces Herb Kenny in May/51 after Herb overslept and missed a radio show in Buffalo. All Decca Ink Spots records from May/51 include the voice of only Bill Kenny who sometimes did even the talking bass part! Thus, this and subsequent groups were heard only by live audiences or radio/TV audiences.

 
 
 
 
DATE
MEMBERS - GROUP #15
PIANIST/

ARRANGER

Early/52-16Aug/52 Bill Kenny 

Charlie Fuqua 

Teddy Williams 

Adriel McDonald

Harold Francis
Teddy Williams replaced Billy Bowen in early 1952.

 
 
 
 
DATE
MEMBERS - GROUP #16
PIANIST/

ARRANGER

16Aug/52-Sep/52? Bill Kenny 

Everett Barksdale (28Apr/07 - 8Jan/86) 

Ernie Brown (second tenor) 

Adriel McDonald

Harold Francis
Charlie Fuqua quits to form his own group after an Ink Spots appearance at The Frolics, Salisbury Beach, MA and Everett Barksdale replaces him. Barksdale is mentioned as replacement in Variety review of Toronto Casino appearance on Sep19/52. Review also mentions Ernie Brown who also must have joined about when Fuqua quit although there would be two groups here if they joined at different times. Any help on these changes would be appreciated.  

 
 
 
 
DATE
MEMBERS - GROUP #17
PIANIST/

ARRANGER

Oct/52-late/52 or early/53? Bill Kenny 

Adriel McDonald 

Ernie Brown

Jimmy Cannady 
 
 

 

Harold Francis
Picture of this group performing on Ed Sullivan Show of 12Oct/52 is shown in Goldberg, More Than Words Can Say. From left, Bill Kenny, Ernie Brown, Adriel McDonald, Jimmy Cannady with Lilli Palmer and Ed Sullivan. Cannady replaces Barksdale sometime after late Sep/52.

 
 
 
 
DATE
MEMBERS - GROUP #18
PIANIST/ARRANGER

Late?/52 or early '53-

?/54
Bill Kenny 

Jimmy Cannady (baritone and quitar) 

Ernie Brown (second tenor and guitar) 

Adriel McDonald (bass)

Fletcher Smith (real name, Judge Smith, 22Sep/13 -15Aug/93) 

An autographed napkin from an Ink Spot appearance in Vancouver includes "Fletcher Smith pianist" and is also signed by Kenny, Brown and Cannady. (The group should have a bass, presumably McDonald, and maybe he didn't sign or was ill?)

Brown is listed in group in Afro-American article of 10Jan/53. Also Ed Wood has provided a scan of autographs of all five members of this group although we have no information on the date or place.


DATE
MEMBERS - GROUP #19
PIANIST
2Apr- ?Jul/54

Bill Kenny

Adriel McDonald

Henry Braswell, 2nd tenor, 15Sep/29 -

Jimmy Cannady

Fletcher Smith

Photo of last Bill Kenny Ink Spots group taken in Springfield, IL with Senator Everett Dirksen. Henry Braswell, who kindly provided this photo, indicated that the Ink Spots (left to right) were Bill Kenny, Adriel McDonald (with a cello he did not play), Fletcher Smith (pianist) looking over Jimmy Cannady's shoulder and Henry Braswell.

  An interview with Henry Braswell [19Jul/06, Hanna] revealed that he began his Ink Spots tenure in Vancouver (The Cave, 2Apr/54) and finished in Wildwoood, NJ, probably in July/54. He said that Bill Kenny disbanded the group at the end of their last performance in Wildwood, saying they should go home because he was stopping the Ink Spots. He also confirmed that the members were the same for all of his brief tour with the Ink Spots as listed above.

Pages ripped from an autograph book show this group to include a new member, Henry Braswell as 2nd tenor along with Kenny and McDonald plus Fletcher Smith as pianist.

 
 
 
DATE
AN EXTRA, NON-SINGING, BILL KENNY INK SPOTS GROUP
After summer 1954 Bill Kenny 

Everett Barksdale 

Andy Maize 

Harry Prather

After the summer of 1954, Bill Kenny did solo vocal work and had a group(s?) that was called Bill Kenny and His Ink Spots Trio. None of the trio members sang. Everett Barksdale (who may have sang as an Ink Spot in an earlier group) played electric guitar, Andy Maize played piano and Harry Prather played grounded violin during a 1956 tour of Britain. Because only Bill Kenny sang, we don't consider this to be a true original Ink Spots group. Rather, we view this as one of the Bill Kenny solo plus instrumental support groups that existed after his singing Ink Spot groups disbanded during the summer of 1954 when the Ink Spots last known tour began in Vancouver, BC and ended in New Jersey about July/54.

 
 
 
DATE
MEMBERS - GROUP #20
PIANIST/

ARRANGER

Early 1960s Bill Kenny 

Joe Boatner's group included: 
Joe Boatner (bass, 27Sep/18-8May/89) 

Richard Lanham (second tenor) 

Billy Byrd (baritone) 

Freddy Houston (high tenor)

 ?
For completeness, there was at least one other Ink Spots group that featured Bill Kenny. Richard Lanham, when interviewed 4Feb/02 [Hanna], indicated that Bill Kenny joined Joe Boatner's Ink Spots group on a number of occasions in Canada while he was a member. He indicated that Bill did not tour with the group but would appear in certain arranged cities. Bill Kenny did not do entire shows but, rather, would sing a few numbers with the group. Richard indicated that Bill did this before and after he joined the group in the summer of 1962. Although he did not remember the Canadian cities where Bill Kenny appeared, he thought Montreal was one place he appeared on more than one occasion. He also indicated that Bill Kenny's health increasingly limited his appearances with this group.  

Last revised - 7Sep/12