THE ORIGINAL INK SPOTS - NEWSPAPER ARTICLES

From Janurary 1, 1943

(Note - summaries are based on press items and sometimes include inaccurate information that has not been corrected)

* = Copy of newspaper article in our files.

[ ] = our comments on inaccuracies

1943    1944    1945    1946    1947    1948    1949    1950    1951    1952    AFTER 1952

DATE NEWSPAPER/MAGAZINE ARTICLE/ITEM CONTENT
13Feb/43 Billboard *Orpheum, Minn. Reviewed Thurs. afternoon, Jan. 28th - Lucky Millinder Orch, Trevor Bacon, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Peg Leg Bates, Gordon & Rogers, IS. Film: Nightmare (U). IS, three this week, with one in a Chicago hospital suffering from pneumonia, do their usually swell job. Your Feet's Too Big, If I Could Love a Little Bit Less and Every Night About This Time and If I Didn't Care
28Jul/43 Variety Advert for IS appearance at Copacabana, NY beginning Thurs. July 29th.
7Aug/43 Billboard *Copacabana, NY - IS with The Di Gatanos, Davis and Edwards and Ray Lynn. IS first appearance here--" prove to be as terrific in a cafe as they are in vaude". Java Jive, You'll Never Know, Ole Man Mose, Every Night About This Time, and encored with Don't Get Around Much Anymore and If I Didn't Care
20Aug/43 Variety *Paramount, NY, reviewed Aug. 11th - Tony Pastor Orch. With Patti Powers, Johnny Morris; IS, Pat Henning, Dorothy Keller, Toy & Wing. Film: True to Life (Par). Put Your Arms Around Me, You'll Never Know, Feet's Too Bigand If I Didn't Care
8Sep/43 Variety *Apollo, N.Y. - IS, Rhapsody Underhill, Jigsaw Jackson, 'Pigmeat' George Wiltshire, Vivian 'Harris' Gaynor & Ross, Ray Sneed, Eddie Robinson Orch. Film: False Faces (U). "Jampacked house this week paying tribute to top b.o. draw of the IS, who are making their first appearance at this house in a year." "Over-exaggerated attempts at showmanship", and performance has a rough edge. "Group's musicianship is so sound and sure-fire, that superfluous mannerisms and muggings by Deke Watson, or too dramatic usage of hands by Kenny while soloing, with Watson mugging at the same time, only go to take a dramatic edge off what is inherently there." Put Your Arms Around Me, You'll Never Know, Your Feet's Too Big, I Can't Stand Losing You and If I Didn't Care.
18Sep/43 Billboard *Earle, Phil., reviewed Friday Evening, Sept. 10th- Four IS, Bobby Sherwood band. "Always heavy faves in the village, it's no exception this time for the return of the Four IS. ... Inevitable If I Didn't Care is received by the mobbed house as tho they had just heard it for the first time." IS in snow-white suits, songs:Put Your Arms Around Me, Honey, You'll Never Know, Your Feet's Too Big, I Can't Stand Losing You and their Care classic.
9Oct/43 Billboard *IS's New Git-Man - NY, Oct. 2 - Guitarist Bernie Mackey replaced Charles Fuqua yesterday at the Stanley Theater, Pittsburgh. Fuqua was inducted into the army. Mackey is a 4-F baritone who was with Bunny Berigan at one time. MacKey and Fuqua wear suits, hats and shoes exactly the same size and resemble each other.
23Oct/43 Billboard *Paramount, NY, reviewed Wed. evening, Oct. 13th -Tony Pastor Orch., IS, Toy & Wing, Pat Henning. Film: True to Life. IS appear to be losing their effectiveness just a mite-probably due to familiar routines. Put Your Arms Around Me, Honey, You'll Never Know, My Feet's Too Big and If I Didn't Care. "The jiving rhythm singer has improved with time, but the tall balladeer's voice has lost a bit of its power even tho his presentation has become more intenslely dramatic." 
19Jan/44 Variety *Unit Review, IS Unit, Albee, Cincinnati, Jan. 15 - IS, Ella Fitzgerald, Cootie Williams Orch, Moke & Poke, Ralph Brown. Film: Footlight Glamour (Col). 2nd successive season that the IS are heading a unit. Current tour planned for 10 months, shoved off last week, splitting between Rochester, N.Y., and Columbus, O. and appears certain to rack up tall takes. IS are Watson, Kenny, Jones, Mackey on guitar, Bill Doggett at the piano. Put Your Arms Around Me, Lovely Way to Spend an Evening, Shoo-Shoo Baby, My Heart Tells Me and If I Didn't Care. "Look for their Lovely Way to Spend an Eveningto let the record rooters forget about If I Didn't Care." 
26Feb/44 Billboard *Orpheum, Minn., reviewed Fri. afternoon, Feb 18th -An all-Negro show with Cootie Williams & Orch., Ralph Brown, Ella Fitzgerald (takes second billing to the IS), Moke & Poke, "headed by the rejuvenated IS, has everything it takes to be a top entertainment piece." Film: Around the World with Kay Kyser. "The Spots, making their periodic visit here, were never better." Shoo-Shoo Baby, Lovely Way to Spend An Evening, Don't Sweetheart Me, encore with My Heart Tells Me and If I Didn't Care.
1Apr/44 p.4 Chicago Defender *Advert. - Royal Crown Cola tastes best - picture of IS holding RC Cola with Watson insert taking taste test.
15Jul/44 Downbeat *Moe Gale in Ruckus With LA Sepia Press, LA - Moe Gale has threatened libel suits against three Negro newspapers here which carried severe criticism of the Deek Watson for using "an Uncle Tom" routine during recent engagement at the Orpheum theater. Phil Carter, in the LA Tribune, characterized the IS as "four singing chimpanzees". "Carter, following Gale's tirade against the papers and his threats to "close them up", came back with reprints of publicity sent out on the IS by Ted Yates of NY which, Carter contends, emphasized objectionable and false Negro characteristics."
Jul/44 Billboard(?) *Chicago, Chicago, reviewed Fri., evening, July 21st - Lou Breeze & Orch., IS, the Shyrettos, Fred & Elaine Barry. Film: Going My Way. IS close w/Java Jive, I'll Get By and Don't Sweetheart Me. "Bill Kenny's tenor voice wows with his ever-popular If I Didn't Care. Deek Watson, who handles the blue parts, and deep pattered voiced Hoppy Jones, also came in for a good share of applause." 
18Oct/44 NY Amsterdam News Leader of IS Dies 
28Oct/44 Billboard *Orville (Hoppy) Jones - Orville (Hoppy) Jones, 39, bass man of the IS died at his home in East Elmhurst, L.I., NY, Oct. 18 of a cerebral hemorrhage. Born in Chicago[?], he was the last of the original IS [not correct]. The IS have appeared in leading theaters and spots thruout the country as well as in films and have made numerous recordings for Decca Records, Inc. At the time of Jones's death IS were appearing at Cafe Zanzibar, NY. Survived by his widow and four [?] children. Services at Levy & Delaney Funeral Home, NY.
15Nov/44 Downbeat *Hollywood, Cal., JONES--Oville (Hoppy) Jones, 40, bassist with the IS, Oct. 18, in Elmhurst, L.I., NY. *Cliff Gibbons of the Southern Suns took the late Hoppy Jones' spot with the IS.
18Nov/44 Billboard *IS Situash Still in Muddle; Gale Suit Latest - NY, Nov. 11--IS situation is still unclear, althou group is still singing at the Zanzibar here. Last week, in a return suit against Kenny's injunction for an accounting of the profits, etc., Moe Gale, combo's manager, filed a motion for an injunction against Kenny in an effort to prevent the singer from using the name IS if he doesn't want to use Deke Watson, original member of the group. Reports Kenny allegedly refused to allow Watson to return to the group. Gale's suit is based on the fact that Watson is one of the original members of IS and the combo is a joint venture. If Kenny doesn't want to use Watson, then he shouldn't use the name. Watson and Charles Fuqua, now in the army, also a member of the group, have also filed an injunction against Kenny. Suit also argues that Kenny joined IS later and was not an original member of the act. Legal tiff has caused shifting of IS appearance at the New York Paramount from Christmas to some time later. Woody Herman will fill in, opening either December 20 or 27. Move also caused canceling out of theater spots in Minn. and Detroit.
25 Nov/44 p.7 Chicago Defender  *Kenny of IS Scores Over Walker - Kenny wins right to use quartet name by ruling of Supreme Court Justice Isidore Wasservogel. Night clubs and theatres will not be allowed to engage the IS if Kenny is not booked. It is understood Gale will appeal.
Billboard *Gale-IS Suit Set for Dec. 4 - NY, Nov. 18-Action on the Billy Kenny-IS-Moe Gale situation will go on trial at NY Supreme Court Dec. 4. Judge Wasservogel refused to listen to papers from both attorneys, denied applications for injunctions on part of Gale against Kenny, and refused to constrain IS from continuing the act under name of the IS. He also refused to constrain Kenny from collecting money for act, instead of it going to Gale. Gale brought suit week ago to have Kenny take Deke Watson back into the act.. Watson is suing for $250,000. All the actions will be rolled into one at the Dec. trial.
Variety *IS Intramural Trial Goes Today (13) - Legal actions by Watson and Fuqua, former members of the IS, and another by ex-manager Moe Gale, against Billy Kenny, go to trail today (Wed.). Watson and Fuqua want $250,000 damages and seek to be declared partners with Kenny in IS act. Gale's suit is similar. Kenny himself, now working with three new members as the IS quartet, seeks an accounting of the earnings of the group since its inception from Gale. All three suits will be considered at the same time. Trials had been delayed since Dec. 4 because of a lack of a presiding justice. 
Dec/44 Met *Cafe Zanzibar - IS, Ella Fitzgerald, Dorothy Donegan, Claude Hopkins band. The Zanzibar, has moved from its old quarters to the site of the former Hurricane at 49th & Broadway & is a great spot for a colored show. Ella Fitzgerald is the musical highlight of the show. Whether or not she happens to get top billing is unimportant. "The IS did one number that I've always liked, Your Feet's Too Big. The rest of their act seemed to me to be musically as offensive as ever. The success of Billy Kenny is a mystery that I shall never understand." Kenny and the IS got an enormous hand.
Dec/44 ? *IS Claims Smudge by Gale - Gale, Ivory Watson and Charlie Fuqua are trying to stop Kenny from using the 'IS' name. Kenny has been continuing at the Zanzibar with Bernie McKay playing guitar, Clifford Given replacing the late Hoppy Jones, and Billy Bowen in place of Watson. "Kenny charges Gale with having taken a 50% cut of the quartet's earnings as well as 10% commission, and alleges various other unorthodox deals by Gale in his handling of the unit." As a result of the squabble, the Spots' Paramount booking has been canceled, with Woody Herman opening there instead Dec. 27. 
6Jan/45 Billboard *IS Suit In Supreme Court Stage - NY, Dec. 30-Billy Kenney's (IS) suit against Moe Gale, Advance Music and Gale, Inc., is skedded for reopening of the NY Supreme Court Tues., (2), with Kenny's suit being discontinued against Advance Music, but still on against Gale. Gale owns some of Advance Music, which is one of the Warners' firms, and part of the Music Publishers Holding Corp. Trial will also cover counter-suit injunction proceedings against Kenny by two other members of the Spots--Watson & Fugua--who charge Kenny won't let them come back into the act. Trial was held from Dec. 11 to 17 and then adjourned.
10Jan/45 Variety *IS-Gale Multiple Suits Settled; Watson to Form Own Quartet - Each of the 3 suits and countersuits between members of the IS and its manager, Moe Gale, was settled out of court Monday (8). Watson will form a second quartet that "will not be a copy of the act of which he was an original member". Gale continues as manager of the IS. His contract with Kenny has four-and-a-half years to run. Watson and Charles Fuqua retain a financial interest in Kenny's earnings, Fuqua continuing to draw a weekly stipend as he was doing prior to the legal disputes. Kenny's action against Gale for an accounting of earnings of the IS has been dropped. 
27Jan/45 Billboard *Changing Spots - NY, Jan. 20 - Deke Watson and His Brown Dots, new vocal group set up last week under management and booking of Moe Gale, will be at the Plantation Club, St. Louis, Feb. 1, for a three-week stint. The quartet, which has only guitar accompaniment, is patterned after the IS.
10 Feb/45 p.9 Chicago Defender *IS of the Past Now Two Aggregations of Swing--Both Great - Moe Gale now has two fine groups where there used to be one. Deek Watson's Four Brown Dots and Bill Kenny's IS are now both booked by Gale. States that the case between Gale and kenny was settled out of court with both sides profiting. Kenny becomes outright owner of the act but Gale remains booking agent with the usual fee.
21Feb/45 Variety *Paramount NY - Cootie Williams Orch., Ralph Brown, Ella Fitzgerald, Buck & Bubbles, IS. Film: Bring On the Girls (Par). It's one of the fastest sets the Par has presented recently. IS, with only Billy Kenny as the lone survivor of the original group, work well, although they miss the spark of Watson's by-play. Kenny carries the turn almost alone. How Many Hearts, I'm Making Believe, If I Didn't Care, Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall with Ella. Watson is breaking in a new act called the Brown Dots this week at the Apollo theatre.
7Mar/45 Variety *Brown Dots, Vocal Quartet, 10 Mins., Apollo, NY - This is the first theatre date of the new quartet formed by Watson, one of the original members of the IS, who bowed out of the combo last fall after drawn-out litigation. One of the sparkplugs of the Spots, Watson is doing a man-sized job of carryhing the new group in its early stages. Result is that the quartet shows very good possibilities. "When caught, the Dots were still a long distance from big time, however." "When laid out several months ago, it was said Watson's idea was completely different from the IS pattern. It isn't, and the similarity to the Spots isn't wise." 
17Mar/45 Billboard *Paramount, NY, reviewed Wed., evening, Feb. 28th - Cootie Williams Orch., Ella Fitzgerald, Buck & Bubble. Film:? Spots close with I'm Making Believe, How Many Hearts Have You Broken?, If I Didn't Care and Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall with Ella Fitzgerald . "This is their first vaude here since squabble about management, and altho group has new members it's still Kenny that sells all the songs." Says Kenny is a little on the hammy side, and has mannerisms or vocalisms that are annoying when done over and over. 
7 Apr/45 Billboard *IS Want To Pick Tunes For Decca-ing - NY, Mar/31. IS want more say in choosing songs to be recorded. Billy Kenny, who sings and handles the group (althou Gale gets 10 % for management for next six years or so, not counting 10% for booking), said he's not happy with fact that group has no power in selection of material. Moe Gale said that Dave Kapp of Decca has the last word in the choice of tunes for the group. Kenny still would like to pick at least two of any four tunes that the group records. ( Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall did over 1,000,000.) Reports that Kenny has had "very lucrative" offers from other companies, and feels that if he can't get what he wants at Decca, he'll go elsewhere. 
9May/45 Variety *Stanley, Pitt., Pittsburgh, May 4 - Cootie Williams Band, IS, Ella Fitzgerald, Coke & Poke, Ralph Brown. Film: Experiment Perilous (RKO). States that the new quartet still doesn't have either the class or the distinctive style of the old one. "It's pretty much of a one-man foursome now, with Kenny in front most of the time, of course, and while his current partners have been picked with an eye to approximating both the looks and particular accomplishments of the previous Ink Spotters, they still don't come close. Maybe time will correct that."
16May/45 Variety *Earle, Philly, Phil., May 11 - Cootie Williams Orch. with Eddie Vinson, Ella Fitzgerald, 4 IS, Coke & Poke, Ralph Brown. Film: House of Fear (U). States it takes 6 shows a day to accomodate huge crowds. "This is the first appearance of the revamped IS and although the new quartet doesn't stack up with the original "Spots", they still know how to sell their wares in a fashion which nets them flocks of kudoes from the audience." IS close with Making Believe, How Many Hearts Have You Broken, I Lose a Friend Tomorrow and Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall 9with Ella). "Standees were five deep in the lobby when reviewed (Fri. Afternoon)."
6Jun/45 Variety *RKO, Boston, June 1 - Cootie Williams Orch., IS, Ella Fitzgerald, Eddie Vinson, Coke & Poke. Film: Honeymoon Ahead (U). "Ella Fitzgerald and the IS added frenzy to pandemonium." I Lose A Friend Tomorrow, Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall (with Ella). "Whole show is torrid entertainment."
13Jun/45 Variety Apollo, NY - Cootie Williams Orch. with Eddie Vinson, Ella Fitzgerald, IS, Coke & Poke, Ralph Brown. Film: The Lone Texas Ranger (Rep). "Apollo this week is parlaying Cootie Williams' band Ella Fitzgerald and the IS into sweet b. o. figures with standees the regular thing." IS offer Making Believe, Don't Care Who Knows It, I'll Lose A Friend Tomorrow and Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall with Miss Fitzgerald returning to join in latter.
16Jun/45 Variety *Stanley Pitt - Pittsburgh, June 16 - Cootie Williams Orch, IS, Ella Fitzgerald, Moke & Poke, Ralph Brown, Eddie Vinson. Film: Make Your Own Bed (WB). "Just about best package of entertainment WB deluxer has had in some time." States that the IS lead show but others also shine.
30 June/45 p.20 Chicago Defender *Jive Some, Don't Swing Too Much, IS Advise - IS on verge of disbanding because they could not get work per Bill Kenny before If I Didn't Care released and became huge hit. This convinced IS that colored quartets make common mistake of always swinging it and mix of ballads and hot tunes formed IS offering.
4Jul/45 Variety *Chicago, Chi - Chicago, June 29th - IS, Cootie Williams Band, Ella Fitzgerald, Coke & Poke, Ralph Brown. Film: The Horn Blows at Midnight (WB). "One of the infrequent all-sepia bills to play here, current triple-threat layout stacks up as one of the spots's liveliest shows." I'm Making Believe, I Don't Care Who Knows It, I Lose a Friend Tomorrow, bringing Ella Fitzgerald to join them in Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall.
7Jul/45 Billboard *Chicago, Chicago - "IS have changed their style plenty since last seen in the Loop. Arrangements highlight personable Bill Kenny, with the remainder of the trip confining themselves mostly to humming accompaniment." States new group seems equally popular. Best song said to be their encore ditty, Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall, with Ella Fitzgerald. 
18Jul/45 Variety *Orpheum, Mpls. - Minn., July 14 - IS, Ella Fitzgerald, Cootie Williams Orch., Ralph Brown, Coke & Poke. Film: Brewster's Millions (UA). "Bill Kenny and his four new IS are as good as ever." I'm Making Believe, I'm in Love With You [I Don't Care Who Knows It], I'll Lose a Friend tomorrowand, with Miss Fitzgerald, Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall.
21Jul/45 Billboard *IS No. 1 First Time in 1945 - Poll ranks IS second to Andrew Sisters in high school category; second to Andrews Sisters in G.I. category and first in college category.
17 Aug/45 Variety(?) *National, L'ville, Aug. 17th - IS, Ella Fitzgerald, Moke & Poke, Ralph Brown, Eddie Vinson, Cootie Williams Orch. Film: Lady Confesses (PRC). "Back to full-week stage shows, if and when top talent can be booked, this house is jam-packin' 'em this week with the IS and their show". Sepia songsters last fall set a house record, and may do almost as well this time. IS close the show. New combo, with Bill Kenney standing out both physically and vocally, is a smash hit. Lads work in some comedy touches, but get over on their singing. Pace through I'm Making Believe, I don't Care Who Knows It, I'll Lose a Friend Tomorrowwith guitar and cello accompaniment, the quartet register big hit. Later, Ella Fitzgerald lends her voice to harmonizing quartet on Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall. Hold.
15 Dec/45 NY Amsterdam News Big Stars Lined Up For Midnite Apollo Showing: The ninth annual Amsterdam News Welfare Fund Midnight Benefit Show, Friday, Dec. 14 (tonight) will probably go down on the record as the greatest assemblage of varied theatrical nightlife and musical stars ever gotten together for a single event. The public knows that the purpose of the benefit is most worthy--the aiding of the needy, unfortunate and destitute of New York as well as contributions to charitable institutions that need assistance. That is the reason why this year's show will be so great because so many of the performers who will come to the Apollo Theatre to put on their act know that Harlem needs help now more than ever. They want to see something done about it and are coming up to do their part. Heading the long list of stars assembled under the direction of Dan Burley and his committee are Martha Raye, headliner at Nicky Blair's Carnival Club and famous movie actress; the entire Cafe Zanzibar show with Cootie Williams, the Ink Spots, Ella Fitzgerald, Maurice Rocco, demon pianist, Coke and Poke, Ralph Brown, Howell and Bowser, Peewee Marquette, and Ray Sneed; Erskine Hawkins and his band with Dolores Brown and Jimmy Mitchell; Andy Kirk and his Club Sudan orch. With Beverly White and Floyd Smith; Louis Jordan's tympany band now in the second week at the Apollo; Noro Morales, the rhumba King and his great Copacabana orch.; Lew Parker, June Richmond, Bunny Briggs and others from "Are You With It?" and Thelma Carpenter, singing star of the Eddie Cantor show. Also Timmie Rogers, comedy sensation; Gordon Heath, star of "Deep Are the Roots"; Juan Hernandez, star of "Strange Fruit"; Molly Picon, comedienne; Conway and Parks; Stump and Stumpy; Pigmeat Markham. The article goes on to name dozens more who will appear.
25Feb/46 Downbeat *Ella & IS Continue at Zanzibar - NY, Claude Hopkins replaced Cootie Williams at Zanzibar here (Jan.25) but Ella Fitzgerald and the IS, who opened with Cootie last Dec. 24th, go on and on. With the spot grabbing a good bite, Joe Howard to date had been picking up the options. Fitzgerald and the Spots are now listed to remain at least through today (25). 
11Jun/46 Billboard *Million Dollar, Los Angeles, Tues., June 11th- All Decked out with new trimmings, house this week took over the Orpheum's vaude-film policy. Bill includes IS, Peg Leg Bates, Helen Humes, Coke and Poke and Eddie Vinson's Orch. Film: Crime of the Century. In the last slot, IS provide ample proof that they're still straddling the top rung on the voice-blender ladder with their sugary singing of I'll Climb the Highest Mountain, The Gypsy (their most recent disk hit), I don't Care Who Knows It (a rhythm ditty) and If I Didn't Care. Foursome's easy stage manner plus sock song stylings had customers clamoring for more.
15 Jun/46 p.23 Chicago Defender Coast Awaits the IS - IS will open at Linclon Theatre in LA on July 8 with all-star vaudeville show after sorting out problems with Local 767 union re: local band participation.
26 July/46 Seattle Times *Advert. re: Orpheum Theatre appearance for one week beginning today (Friday). Shows at 12:05, 2:45, 5:20, 8:00 and 10.30. Prices 35 cents till 1PM, 50 cents till 5PM and $1 thereafter (Sat. & Sun. 90 cents till 1PM and $1 after). IS headline with Eddie "Mr. Cleanhead" Vinson & Orch., Peg Leg Bates, Ida James and Coke & Poke. Film: Her Adventurous Night.
27July/46 Seattle Times *If the temperature begins to descend, it won't be because of the IS, who hit town yesterday with the hottest show of the summer. They have brought to the stage of the Orpheum an hour of the sort of vaudeville that talent-starved audiences dream about but seldom see. First of all, there are the boys themselves--dominated by Billy Kenny, the tall fellow whose whispering, almost eerie tenor has become standard equipment on every self-respecting jukebox. Opening with I'd Climb the Highest Mountain, they offer the tunes old and new which have made them recording favorites (and which earned them the accolade of a parody by Spike Jones and his ensemble), including Prisoner of Love and that reliable sob-and-mutter classic, If I Didn't Care. The boys climax a program opened by Eddie Vinson and His orchestra...
21 Sep/46 p.12A Cleveland Call & Post *IS Head Sepia Revue at Palace - Picture and caption re: new stage show to play the RKO Palace starting Thurs., Sept. 19thfor one week. IS, Eddie "Mr. Clean-head" Vinson & Orch., Peg leg Bates, Dinah Washington, Coke & Poke.
28 Sep/46 p.12A Cleveland Call & Post *Picture of Brook Taylor interviewing IS - caption notes interview on last Sunday's BABS Revue, WJW at 1:00PM and current appearance at Palace Theatre.
11Jan/47 Billboard *IS May Land Big-Bucks British Tour - NY, Jan. 4. A dough-heavy deal for 15 weeks of playing time in England is understood to be in preparation for the IS. Altho Harry Lenetska, of Universal Attractions, who books the spots, says whole thing is strictly in "embryonic stage," reports say group will be set for overseas jaunt at top money. Spots enjoy w-k, status in Britain, their waxing of Bless You(for Being an Angel) emerging as one of England's top disk sellers for the year.
1 Apr/47 Montreal Daily Star *Advert.: His Majesty's, one night only, Easter Monday, April 7th at 7:30 and 9:30 P.M., Radio's Outstanding Entertainers The IS, in person, company of 30 including Johnny Otis and his orchestra, June Richmond, vocalist, Lewis and Smith, Coles and Atkins and others. Seats now selling $1.33, $1.99, $2.65 and $3.32 all taxes incl. At the Music Bar, 5177 Decarie Blvd. and Lindsay's Piano Store, St. Catherine St. W. (Montreal, Quebec, Canada).
8 Apr/47 The Herald, Montreal, Tuesday *IS Show Hailed By Fans, by Harold Gardner. The joint was jumpin' last night at His Majesty's as an audience ranging from white-haired women in mink stoles to bob[b]y-soxers in sloppy-joe sweaters thrilled to the fluid-rhythm music of an all-colored presentation featuring the famed IS. Jazz is here to stay. That was evident by the large crowds attracted to the two performances -- especially the latter when fans lined Guy for a block in each direction. Bill Kenny, leader of the four ebony-colored minstrels was inspired to promise that the troupe would return to the city each and every year. As Johnny Otis and his 15-musicians in canary colored jackets provided the setting, three top-rate acts limbered up the timbers for the main attraction. These subsidiaries were so good that at times one tended to forget the piece de resistance to come. Once the IS did appear however, there was no doubt that they were tops. Their rendition of The Gypsy, To Each His Own, If I Didn't Care as well as several other popular selections sparked round after round of applause from the guys and gals. .... In Case one of you readers is phoned up by some quiz program and asked who the IS are, here is the information -- for free: Bill Kenny, high tenor; Herbert Kenny, base; Charlie Fuqua, guitar; and Billy Bowen, rhythm. 
June 12/47 Seattle Times *Advert. for Orpheum Theatre one-week appearance of show headlining IS with Bill Kenny and Johnny Otis & Orch., June Richmond, Lewis & White, Coles & Atkins. Film: Love and Learn.
13 June/47 Seattle Times *IS in Solid Show, by Nat Lund - The IS opened on the Orpheum's stage yesterday with a big, smooth-running show of the type all too seldom seen in Seattle. A powerful draw as a single attraction, the quartet is well surrounded with other talent as well, combining to make an exceptional hour's entertainment. Bill Kenny, the eerie-voiced tenor who dominates the group, is an adept showman, maintaining his enthusiasm through every moment on stage. That's Where I Came In is one of the newer offerings deftly done by the group; the inevitable but welcome If I didn't Care is a nostalgic item greeted with equal enthusiasm.
12/?/47 ? *IS Hold Celebration - Picture w/ caption - NY, Billy Kenny and his IS not only celebrated their ninth birthday party at the Apollo theater in Harlem, but were presented with two jukebox awards, one as top singing group in the machines and another as waxers of the top platter of the year, The Gypsy. Billie Bowen and Charlie Fuqua are veteran Inkspots, while kid brother Herb Kenny is the newest member.
6Sep/47 Billboard *Picture of IS on Queen Mary w/caption - They look happy, the IS (shown are Billy Bowen, Herb Kenny, Charlie Fugqua, leader Billy Kenny and manager Murray Nadell), and why not. Those smiles are for the $15,000 a week they'll earn once they hit England for a six-week stay at the Casino Theater, London, starting September 1. They're shown here just before running into a union fracas which canceled the sailing of the S.S. America. Finally, and luckily, the Spots checked out last week on the Queen Mary. Popularity of the 4 IS in England, incidentally, is rivaled only by the tremendous following built up here in the homeland. On Decca Records, the quartet bopped the record-buying public square on the nose with The Gypsy and followed up with smash single releases and albums in one-two order. Their premier album for Decca was one of the top three in the nation in 1946, according to the Billboard's Annual Music Record Poll, and Vol. II in 1947 has destroyed the old showbiz myth about sequels. The call of big-money bookings in England probably can be charged in part to the fact that the Spots platter of Bless You (for Being and Angel) was a long-time best seller in the British Isles. The London booking, and all others, handled by Universal Attractions, Inc.
24Sep/47 Downbeat *IS Take London By Storm, Writes Tanner, London, England - The opening night of the IS engagement at the London Casino caused one of the biggest traffic jams the city has experienced since pre-war. Hours before the first show all the surrounding streets were thronged with people and it was virtually impossible for cars to get anywhere near the theater. Those who couldn't gain admission waited patiently hoping to getting a glimpse of the famous singing quartet as they left. Inside the theater they were given what must have been their biggest ovation ever. They were the last turn on an all star bill of vaudeville and if the audience had had their way, the IS would still be singing encores. Most of the familiar numbers were trotted out, familiar to many people over here by virtue of their recordings, and the performance of such favorites as Whispering Grass, The Gypsy, Bless You, and Java Jive had all the polish that one has come to expect from this talented quartet.
 27Sep/47 Everybody's  Contains a 1-page article that includes frequently published inaccurate accounts of the groups origins and several photos. 
8Oct/47 Downbeat *IS In Trouble In London Over Contract - London, IS, who were brought over here originally for engagements at the Casino theater and Lewisham Hippodrome, are in a contractual fight with their English promoter, Bernard Delfont, operator of the Casino. The Spots refused to double into the Lewisham spot, a London suburban location, at the same time they were playing the Casino, saying four shows in three and a half hours was too much work. The vocal group said he was told they were to get $10,000 weekly for two shows a night, plus $600 for one extra show. Bill Kenny, the group's leader, said on arrival they were told they were getting only $8,000. They played for two weeks with no money paid into their NY account, per prior agreement. The group demanded immediate payment of $10,000 to NY. Delfont, after developments, said he was finished with the IS and they had broken the contract.
18Oct/47 ? *IS Extend London Casino Run Plus Side Dates - London, Oct. 11. After the storm which blew up in the third week of the IS stay at the Casino--over doubling dates at suburban houses for which they had originally been booked--has been pacified, the boys have now made it up with Bernard Delfont of the Casino, who is retaining them for a further fortnight at $2,000 a week. Meanwhile, Leslie Posher, Gaumont-British Film's variety director, was able to get the act on three successive Sundays (when Casino is closed) at the mammoth Trocadero, Gaumont-Empire and Gaumont-Hammersmith movie houses. The appearance at the Empire tomorrow will be the farewell appearance by the IS to the British public. House (2,400 seats) has been sold out for these Sunday stands (afternoon and evening). The IS will be accompanied by the Harry Parry Sextet. Setting a new precedent, the IS also agreed to appear Sunday afternoon and evening at the Lyceum Dance Palais. This represents a new plicy for the Mecca Dancing Company, who owns the Lyceum and 45 big dance halls all over the country and who has always refused to book foreign acts relying on giving its resident bands and vocalists a buildup. Admission charges for the IS were double the usual price at the Lyceum (room for 6,000).
24 Jan/48 p.30 Chicago Defender *Picture of IS with Paul Whitman and caption discussing Whitman's interview with IS during a recent platter session in NY.
28 Feb/48 p.28 Chicago Defender *IS in Labor Picture - United Auto Workers in conference with Bill Kenny & his IS last week about participation in projected film telling story of modern labor organization. Idea to incorporate "name" entertainers in documentary picture to break monotony and attract audiences.
8 Mar/48 p.26 Chicago Defender *IS Don't Believe What They Sing And Hear - Notes current record is The Best Things In Life Are Free but Kenny got parking ticket while recording the song and observed that some things aren't always free.
10 Apr/48 p.26 Chicago Defender *Picture of Kenny with stick pins including one recovered that had been lost. Caption mentions IS are in second place to King Cole Trio in annual Chicago Defender poll.
20 Nov/48 p.29 Chicago Defender *IS Roll Up New Gross Record - A vague, inaccurate article that does not discuss title of article but which seems to relate to the IS appearing at the Chicago Theatre to packed houses and plenty of applause.
15 Jan/49 New Your Amsterdam News Ella, Ink Spots in Brooklyn Benefit - discusses acts to perform at 11th annual Amsterdam News Brooklyn Benefit Show, 4Feb/49 at 8:00PM. [cover page of Brooklyn section]
5Feb/49 Pittsburgh Courier Ink Spots in New Deal With Gale Agency Inc. - about new 3-year contract with Gale Inc. Also discusses Negro Actors' Guild award presented for appearance at Monte Carlo Club, Miami, for work in breaking down the walls of prejudice in the theatrical world. Plaque inscription: "To the Ink Spots in recognition of splendid achievement in advancing democracy in 1948 by being the first Negro artists to fill engagement at the Monte Carlo in Miami Beach, Fla."
19Feb/49 Afro-American Mrs. Bill Kenny Seeks Reno Melt - Marguerite Kenny (Wendell) reported to have left for Reno to obtain divorce. Married in Maryland in 1947, they have a daughter Willmia
26 Feb/49 p.20 Chicago Defender *Picture under heading - IS Open at Chicago's Music Bowl
5Mar/49 Afro-American Spots Headline Air, Tele Shows - Ink Spots headline Texaco Star Theatre last week while Milton Berle is ill. Also appeared on the American National Theatre and Academy's "Theatre, U.S.A." program on ABC Thurday6 evening. 
12Mar/49 Afro-American Spots' Disc Used As Biz Booster - flower show owners have been playing the record, "NO Orchids For My Lady", to entice customers into stores. The recording "Say Something Sweet to Your Sweetheart" found favor with the greeting card industry and "Java Jive" was played over and over in many small coffee shops across the country.
26Mar/49 Afro-American Spots Bid to Vitalize Dying Vaude for Loew's - Loew's decides to try vaude again and asks Ink Spots to work their schedule to permit them to headline a "re-debut" series of shows in their theaters. Ink Spots to visit Loew's theaters for 15 weeks in many cities. Decision to hire Ink Spots was based on need for first shows to be successful if return to vaude is to succeed.
2Apr/49 Pittsburgh Courier Ink Spots Big Noise at Nev. Thunderbird - Tables for this appearance at such a premium that some customers were reselling their reservations to anxious Ink Spot fans at a profit.
9Apr/49 Pittsburgh Courier Ink Spots To Tour Europe - mentions one month booking at the London Palladium and plans to make concert appearances in Paris and Switzerland [the original Ink Spots never appeared in continental Europe].
16 Apr/49 p.9B Cleveland Call & Post *Bill Kenny, Famed IS Tenor, Says Wife Tricked Him Into Marriage - Kenny asks annulment of marriage to Marguerite Kenny saying she tricked him into believing that an adopted baby was his. The baby was reported to have been born out of wedlock in 1946. Chicago model reported to have refused to go to London with Kenny and the IS until the singer married her. They married and went to London for a theatrical engagement leaving the baby in the US. Discusses homes Kenny purchased for wife and wife's mother and Kenny's mother's refusal to acknowledge Marguerite as her daughter-in-law.
16Apr/49 Pittsburgh Courier Ink Spots Rate Mountie Escort at Canadian Club - a brilliantly arrayed squad of Mounties will escort the Ink Spots to the Palomar Supper Club when they make their annual visit. This should prevent delays enroute. The last visit resulted in numerous incidents with fans and a forty-minute trip took five hours . 
23Apr/49 Afro-American Spots to Play Kangaroo for Amarillo Bopery Cats - Ink Spots will appear at City Auditorium early in evening of 28May for 2 hour show. Then, they will be driven with police escort to Nat's Dance Palace for another show.
30Apr/49 Afro-American  Ink Spots' Fanc Cry "Red Coats" Are Coming - also about Mountie escort and reports last year teen-agers waylayed them on highway and obtained autographs, bits of the quartet's clothing and pieces of their car.
7May/49 Pittsburgh Courier Thunderbird Wants Ink Spots Again - reports signing for 3 weeks in 1950. Current bookings show only 1 free day in coming 8 weeks. Tour will cover territory from California to Canada, Texas to Iowa, Ohio to Rhode Island and New York.
14May/49 Arfro-American Ink Spots Toast of Barbary Coast - each year for 30years, the San Francisco Earthquake Committee has picked national celebrities for "Toast of the Barbary Coast" awards. This year the Ink Spots are chosen.
25 Jun/49 p.10B Cleveland Call & Post *IS Hot in Minneapolis Spot - Since June 9 the IS have been headlining the Carnival Club's show and the Minn. Police Dept. has assigned two patrolmen to handle long lines waiting to get into the supper spot. So popular the Carnival's manager has asked IS to contract for a month each year.
2 Jul/49 p.32 

p.9B

Chicago Defender 
 

Cleveland Call & Post

*IS Ready For Loews, England Tours - A double tour is in the works for the IS. One is the Loew's vaudeville circuit and the second a tour of England. Loew's tour is part of attempt to give vaudeville another chance to win public's applause. After closing in the Loew's State in Providence, RI on Aug. 3, they will leave NY on the Queen Elizabeth.

*Same article

9 Jul/49 p.8B Cleveland Call & Post *IS Make Secret Waxings - Discussed secret trip from Pittsburgh to NY to record two new Decca tunes. Done at night so even Decca staff would not know what songs were recorded.
23 Jul/49 p.8B&9B Cleveland Call & Post *By James L. Hicks - Ruth Bowen discusses how it feels to be wife of a man who is a member of a quartet that other women worship. She met Billy when he was a saxaphone player in Lucky Millinders' band at a Guardsmen dance in the Savoy Ballroom. They live in a Washington Heights apartment but spend most time on the road. IS travel by auto. Each own a car and he or wife drive from one engagement to another with a truck which carries the uniforms and baggage. The car of manager Murray Mandel completes the transportation.

Mentions high speed driving and an accident Herb Kenny had driving Bill's Cadillac that demolished the car with no one hurt while others waited in Las Vegas for star to show up.

Mentions those traveling to London as Bill Kenny & new French Canadian wife, Ruth and Billy, Bill's brother Herb and his wife Gloria of Philadelphia and Charles Fuqua and his wife Hattie of Buffalo.

8 Oct/49 p.9B Cleveland Call & Post *It Breaks Kenny's Heart But He Can't Book European Tour - discusses need to turn down fabulous offer to tour France and Italy last week because so heavily booked for rest of their foreign tour. Disappointed because all four have wanted to see France for many years. States IS are sensation of London with performance at the Palladium and speculators selling tickets for double or more.
19 Nov/49 p.9B Cleveland Call & Post *Berle Cables TV Invite to Spots - Berle arranges TV show to feature IS the day after they return from England on Dec. 13.
3 Dec/49 p.10B Cleveland Call & Post *IS Come Home After Half Year in England - IS returned to US last Monday aboard Pan-Am's super strato-cruiser landing at Idlewild. Appeal was so great they almost matched the fabulous box office record set by Danny Kaye when he toured England.
15 Apr/50 p.32 Chicago Defender (?) *Advert. of IS promoting Manischewitz kosher wine that "harmonizes with us - sweetly".
7 May/50 Seattle Times *Advert. for show featuring the IS and separate picture of Bill Kenny, Bowen, Fuqua, Herb Kenny group
8 May/50 Seattle Times *Advert. for Palomar Theatre show featuring IS with Spec Watkins, "The original Popeye the Sailor": The La Form Sisters, "Beauty in the Air"; Sharon Leigh Baird, "Little Miss Personality"; Chicken & Wings, "Dancing Sports". Film: Perfect Strangers. 50 cents till 5PM, stage shows: 2:35, 7:00, 9:45.
9 May/50 Seattle Times *IS In Good Form At Palomar, by Nat Lund - After years of headlining top-flight vaudeville bills both in this country and abroad, the IS have developed a glass-slick, suave style which makes the paying patrons very happy indeed. In their opening shows at the Palomar yesterday, the trimly-tailored quartet zipped through their repertoire of beautifully hoked up ballads to splendid results.Maybe, With My Eyes Wide Open I'm Dreaming, I'd Climb the Highest Mountain and, of course, If I Didn't Care all scored heavily with the numerous customers. Billy Kenny, the honey-voiced ringleader, continues to center the group, but his brother, Herb, who also thumps a bass [Herb Kenny carried a bass on stage but did not know how to play it! Apparently he fooled some in attendance], is excellent in the dead-pan kidding of each tune. The remainder of the bill is strong in all departments, too. ....
3 Jun/50 p.31 Chicago Defender (?) *IS Set for Long Stay On West Coast - The Thunderbird Hotel is being enlarged for the debut of the IS in Las Vegas on June 22.
6 Jan/51 p.23 Chicago Defender *IS Mark Yule At Capitol - IS celebrated holiday season by headlining stage show at Capitol Theatre on Broadway and smashing all previous Christmas day records at that vaudeville mecca. This marks the fourth consecutive Christmas and New Year season that the IS have been the top Broadway attraction. In 1947 they headlined the Strand Theatre show and every year since the Capitol Theatre has bagged this attraction to usher in the Christmas and New Year.
27 Jan/51 p.33 Chicago Defender *IS will appear at Chicago Theater starting Jan. 26. In addition to Bill Kenny and the IS, the show will feature the Martin Brothers and their marionettes, Tommy and Margot Conine and Chicago's own comedy star, Jack E. Leonard. Film stars Van Heflin, Susan Cabot and Alex Nicol will appear on stage the opening day with the IS.
2 Jun/51 p.51 Chicago Defender *Bill Kenny's Brother Quits - Twin brother Herb Kenny pulled out of the vocal combo last week to take a feature spot with Buddy Hawkins and the Dey Notes, currently playing at the Red Hill Barn here.
12 Jul/52 p.17 Chicago Defender *IS Kenny - 'Can't Oust Me From Act I Own' Tenor Says - Kenny charges he has been subjected to a round of newspaper abuse, obviously inspired, in which cruel and insinuating digs have been taken at his wife, the Canadian-born Audrey as well as telephone threats of dire things in store for him if he does not keep quiet. Fuqua claims a 50% ownership but Kenny says the Supreme Court gave him 75% in 1945. Kenny said he joined the IS early in 1936 after they returned from Europe and were about to break up. One member had already quit and Kenny took his place. It was mainly a rhythmic act, and all the members played instruments and sang mostly jive type songs. After I joined them, I got them to try close harmony singing but the voices would not blend. I decided after I finished singing the first chorus, the bass singer would take the second but the bass singer--Hoppy Jones--found it difficult to sing but was a natural talker and this was the birth of the IS format of singing, often called 'top and bottom.' Kenny complains of Fuqua's lack of contributions to the IS and says, without bragging, that he kept the act from being a fourth rate group of jitterbugging clowns.
10Aug/52 ? Advert for IS featuring Bill Kenny plus all-star show at The Frolics, Salisbury Beach, Newburyport(?) now thru Saturday, 2 shows nitely, admission $1.
8Oct/52 ? *Too Frequent Appearances Lessen TV Appeal, by William Buchanan - Appear on TV?--well, maybe! Strange as it may seem, many top flight entertainers feel that too frequent appearances on TV shows lessen their popularity. We always thought the big names in the entertainment world spent endless days and sleepless nights worrying about where and how soon their next TV appearance will be. But that was before we talked with Billy Kenny of the IS. Currently leading his internationally-known quartet through their famous renditions at the Frolics at Salisbury Beach, Kenny explained it this way: "the demand for well known entertainers to appear as guests on the various TV shows is terrific. Practically any well known personality in music or show business could appear as a guest on 52 programs throughout the year. But only a few will video it more than half a dozen times each year. And the reason is simply because the public is apt to tire quickly of a comic's routine, a magician's tricks, or a quartet's singing style." Kenny, whose famed tenor voice has kept the IS in top demand since their 1939 recording of If I Didn't Care, pointed out that when a comic or a quartet plays the theater circuit they hardly ever alter their popular stylings because they appear in any given city once every other year. When a "name" act is guesting too frequently on TV they ... have no more attraction than grandfather's picture on top of the TV set. An example to prove Kenny's contention would be this: last January the IS headed the bill at NY's Paramount theater for several weeks. Immediately following them at the Paramount was singer Tony Bennett, who at that time, had two of the biggest-selling records in the country. Yet when only the first weeks's receipts were tabulated, the IS had outdrawn Bennett by more than $20,000. Perhaps the answer was that Bennett had been guesting quite regularly on nationwide TV shows, while the IS chose only to
24Mar/54 Variety *Bill Kenny Cancels Out on 'Sermons" in Cafes; New Act: Racial Tolerance - Vancouver - Bill Kenny, back on the nitery circuit after a year in which "the roof fell in"--a mess of tribulations comprising loss of voice for several months and two of family bereavements--states he's cut out previous onstage sermonizing and philosophies-amid-song "because they (spenders) don't want it in a night club." But he has a new act for a different aud consisting of "impassioned pleading for racial tolerance." Singer, with bistro act enhanced via instrumental and vocal gimmicks, is donating daytime hours to addressing PTA, Kinsmen and similar service orgs about ethnic bias and abuses. "I'm voluble and get 'em mad, but they call me back," he asserts, adding that such harangues are his "special biz." While he denies any personal problem with racial bias, Kenny, whose wife is white and Canadian, now bases in Calgary, a town that's "color blind," he said. He declined comment on current action of Vancouver Civic Unity Assn. In lobbying for statutes to stop color restrictions in public places. "We never had any trouble in Vancouver," he said.
Aug/54 ? *Fuqua to Leave IS to Organize "New Ink Spots", NY, Aug. 9 - One of the original members of the IS Guitarist Charlie Fuqua, said today (8) that he was leaving the group within the next few weeks to form another vocal outfit This was confirmed by booker Ben Bart of Universal Attractions, who said that he was handling the new outfit. This would indicate that there would soon be two groups with similar names, one the present IS with Bill Kenny, and the other the Guqua unit. Both Bill Kenney and Charlie Fuqua are agreed that both men will be able to use the name IS, since both are original members of the unit. The IS is a partnership between Fuqua and Kenny, and according to Fuqua's lawyer, when a partnership of this type, furnishing services only, splits up, both partners are allowed to continue with the trade-name. The business of Fuqua leaving the group has been pending for a long time. He says his new quartet will have more group singing. He expects to start personal appearances with his new unit about Sept. 1, tho no dates are set as yet. The IS are booked by the Gale Agency and the Bill Kenny group will continue with the firm. The contract between Decca Records and the IS, which has about a year to run, was signed by Bill Kenny, and thus his group will keep waxing for the diskery. Decca Records had no comment to make on the formation of another IS group. The IS are currently at the Steel Pier, Atlantic City, and will play a week at Salisbury Beach, Mass. after this engagement ends Sunday (10). Fuqua will pull out of the unit after that. Present personnel of the IS is Bill Kenny, Charlie Fuqua, Hal Francis and Teddy Williams.
1954 ? *Bill Kenny in Solo Debut Here As IS Just Fade Away - Singer Goes On His Own After 18 Years And Makes Smash Hit At Copa This Week, By Win Fanning - Well, as of this week the original IS are no more. Even "Bill Kenny and his IS" have ceased to exist. After 18 years there is just one spot left. Kenny is doing a single. Looking back on Monday night's sensational debut at Lenny Litman's Copa, when he broke a five-year club record, Kenny is prone to wonder why he didn't do it alone long age. There had been a considerable tempest in the ink bottle for years, Kenny told this reporter. The trouble dated back to when his co-founder, bass man Hoppy Jones, died in 1945 [1944]. "At that time guitarist Charlie Fuqua and I took over the name of the quartet on a 50-50 basis," the singer explained. Two years ago, without a word of warning, Fuqua took his 50 per cent on the road as "The Original IS." "I stopped him from using the word 'original,' but he had a right to the IS billing, which is where the rub came in," Kenny said. Although he immediately began calling his group "Bill Kenny and his IS," the public was hopelessly confused. When it became a habit of the rival "Spots" to use Kenny's picture in their opening night publicity, the singer decided things had finally gone far enough. "Of course, I got the picture business cleared up, but then there was the continuing record question. Recordings by the IS started showing up on all sorts of odd labels, and not a few were rhythm and blues numbers with which I wanted no connection of any sort," Kenny said. Another factor leading to his solo career was a growing expectation on the part of night club patrons to hear Kenny sing during every number. "People complained that I wasn't singing as much as I ought to. They felt cheated, somehow, because they had come to think of me as a single vocalist even though we were a group act," he explained. This public reaction wasn't especially surprising as Kenny has been
1954 ? Continued the Copa stage during the first set," he said. However, when the capacity audience thundered its approval, and especially when veteran impressario Litman admitted that even he had been moved by the act, Kenny knew he had made the right decision.
1954 ? *IS Kenny to Become a Single, NY - Bill Kenny, lead voice in the IS for 18 years has disbanded the group to become a single. Kenny has signed with MCA and may leave Decca for another label. Since the original IS split into different groups, there have been several units using the title. Kenny says his move into the single field is in part due to the confusing situation that resulted from the counter advertising claims used by the various groups.
12 Jan/55 Down Beat *Bill Kenny Still Flying On High; However, Now It's A solo Stint - NY, When Bill Kenny decided finally to dissociate himself from the IS (Down Beat, Nov. 3) after 18 years of singing his unique high-altitude tenor, it was as if Gearge Burns had split with Gracie Allen or Dagwood had divorced Blondie. Bill's piercing flights with the IS had become part of American popular music lore. But even a tradition occasionally breaks apart, and so did the IS. Bill is now working clubs as a single and there are now two separate groups calling themselves the IS with a third being formed. Until two years ago there had only been one IS. Then Charlie Fuqua, the guitarist and baritone with the group, broke away to form a unit of his own. Kenny, meanwhile, continued working occasional dates with his IS and kept recording for Decca. (Actually for the last five years Bill Kenny's Decca records have been made with such groups as the Ray Charles Singers, the Songspinners, and Gordon Jenkins even though the IS name was used.) But suddenly, in addition to Kenny's and Fuqua's units, other teams calling themselves the IS began to multiply about the countryside. "All in all, says Kenny, "it became a very confusing situation, and one of the reasons I decided to go out as a single was to make it clear that Bill Kenny is now with no IS group; that I'm on my own. What has happened in the past year or so, for example, is that when a club bills a group called the IS and the people find that Bill Kenny isn't with that group, business often falls down. Furthermore during the past couple of years when I was taking it easy and playing a lot of golf around home, people would write me from various places...saying I had a nerve sending all those IS units on the road and collecting money from their work while I stayed home in leisure. "You see, they thought I'd licensed the name out and was getting a share of the profits whereas actually I'd had no connection with any of those groups and some were even using my
12Jan/55 Down Beat - Cont'd groups. A record company executive recently said that in many of the groups that have come up through the years, you could detect a kid trying to sound like Kenny. Comedians also have much to thank him for. Imitating Kenny has given comics more material than have most other subjects for parody over a comparable period of time. Bill himself is proudest of the fact that he often has been given much credit for having broken the color line in popular ballad singing, (for) thereby having helped open the field for singers like Nat Cole and Billy Eckstine. When I broke in with the IS in 1936, Billy recalls "there were almost no colored vocalists who were singing ballads, so I was an oddity. It was Claude (?) Buchanan, the manager. "Up to then, they'd done almost no vocalizing except for a little scat singing and harmony, but mostly, it was a rhythm-instrumental group. I suggested we try ballads to inject variety, and we more or less broke in what was to be our style at a hotel in Binghampton, NY, for several weeks at $50 a week for each of us. "A short time later, we recorded If I Didn't Care for Decca, and that did it. We got $25 a piece for that record--no royalties--but we did get a contract on the basis of it. That was our first big side, the one that started us off. The other members of the IS, besides Fuqua, during their peak years were Deek Watson, second tenor (who now also has an IS of his own), and Orville (Hoppy) Jones, the talking bass. Of the pianists who had been with the IS, Harold Francis had the chair the longest. It was Jones who, along with Kenny, was the best known of the IS. Hoppy's was the rich, deep voice that casually wandered into each song after Bill had started it off in the emotional stratosphere. Hoppy brought the lyrics down to earth with his spoken paraphrases, all written by himself. "Everything I learned about show business, I learned from Hoppy," emphasizes Kenny. "Hoppy was a very wise and kind person. When he died in
12Jan/55 Down Beat - Cont'd D above high C, nonfalsetto tenor of Kenny and the comfortable rich bass of Jones.
15Nov/54 ? Bill Kenny, Songs, 20 Mins., Copa, Pittsburgh - About Kenny having performed a single act for years as role of others became insignificant and now alone also in number of performers--one. After many arguements about rights to IS name, Kenny decided it was time to go solo. Although he can improve show in a few ways, he had same audience impact as IS. If I Didn't Care, We Three, and all the others mixed with some new ones.
1969 ? *Ivory (Deek) Watson, 60, Dead; Tenor Sang With the IS - Ivory (Deek) Watson, an original member of the IS, died of a heart attack on Tuesday in Washington at age of 60. Watson sang tenor in the quartet, which became very popular after success of 1939 recording of If I Didn't Care. Discusses ballad style of If I Didn't Care with high tenor, talking bass, high tenor becoming identified as IS style. Watson was born in Mounds, Ill. and formed the group with three friends he had met in Indianapolis - Charlie Fuqua, a baritone; Slim Greene, a tenor [incorrect - it was Jerry Daniels], and Mr. Jones. Mentions started as dancers and the incorrect story of being porters at the Paramount Theater when they were discovered. For the next six years the IS were a lively, jivey, rhythmic quartet of singers and guitarists. After Mr. Greene's death [after Jerry Daniels left the group sometime in 1936] Mr. Kenny joined the group, bringing the high tenor voice that became one of its trademarks. Recording of If I Didn't Care was one of IS first attempts at a slow ballad. Mr. Jones, the bass, was supposed to have sung the second chorus, but he forgot the tune and resorted to recitation to cover up his failure[incorrect - the IS used this format in earlier performances].
Dec/70 ? *Charles Fuqua - Charles Fuqua, 60, baritone member of the original IS Died Dec. 21 in Veterans Hospital, New Haven, Conn., following a two-week illness. Burial was in Buffalo, where he made his home since his marriage in 1944. Reports Fuqua was on the road entertaining until shortly before his death. Discusses members of original IS and there success in late '30's and '40's. Says group appeared in several [one] Abbott & Costello films and in some musical short subjects. The IS broke up in 1945 when Fuqua was discharged from the Army where he served as an entertainer. Fuqua is survived by wife, two daughters, two brothers and sister.
25Mar/78 New York Times *Bill Kenny is Dead; Last of IS - Singer in Popular Quartet was 55[really, 63] -- His Tenor-Soprano Voice Was Stylistic Hallmark of Group - "Bill Kenny, whose tenor-soprano voice became a stylistic earmark of the IS quartet, which was popular in the 1930's and 1940's, died Thursday in the Royal Columbian Hospital in Vancouver, British Columbia, of a respiratory ailment. He was 55 years old." Article gives a brief history that includes a number of inaccuracies including Kenny joined at age of 17 in 1939 [1936]; that he replaced Slim Greene who had died [incorrect - he replaced Jerry Daniels who left the group]; that Jones forgot the words to If I Didn't Care that led to his talking bass style [incorrect, this style was used in earlier songs]; that the IS classis high tenor-talking bass-high tenor ballad style persisted with Do I Worry, I Love You For Sentimental Reasons [incorrect], The Gypsy, We'll Meet Again, To Each His Own and Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall, which was made with Ella Fitzgerald; that the quartet was formed in about 1933; that they came to NY in 1932 but their only regular work was as porters backstage at the old Paramount Theater in Times Square for $25 a week each [incorrect-they came in late 1933 and were never porters at the Paramount]. Also discusses how Kenny came to join IS, the IS Decca recording history with 250 disks [overstated], how the IS style was widely imitated, the break-up in the early '50's and the use of the IS name by other groups over the years. Indicates Kenny is survived by his wife, Audrey, an adopted daughter, Dixie Kenny, and a brother [Herb Kenny is unnamed and not recognized as a member of the IS after 1944] in Washington.
26Mar/78 Boston Globe *Bill Kenny, 63, tenor vocal stylings helped make the IS famous, by William Buchanan - It was the same at the Capital in NY, the Stanley in Pittsburgh or the RKO-Boston -- the house lights would dim, the stage would slowly rise and as the curtains parted the guitar would be strumming in the background and then you'd hear a tenor singing, "Now do I worry, cause you're stepping out..." And there before you on stage dressed in those elegant tuxedos, the IS. And that unmistakable tenor voice belonged to Bill Kenny. Mr. Kenny died unexpectedly Thursday of a respiratory ailment in Royal Columbia Hospital in New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada. He was 63. It was Mr. Kenny's voice that was featured on such Decca recording hits as If I Didn't Care, Do I Worry, Maybe, We Three, I'm Making Believe, The Gypsy, I'll Never Smile Again, Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall, My Prayer, To Each His Own and We'll Meet Again. He was born in Philadelphia and grew up in Baltimore. He won his first notoriety in the mid 1930's when he won an amateur night contest at the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem when he sang the song, Trees. Mr. Kenny joined the IS in the late 1930's when Jerry Daniels quit the group. The other members, were Orville Jones, Deek Watson and Charles Fuqua. They are now all deceased. The IS concentrated on up-tempo rhythm numbers and enjoyed limited success until a recording date in NY in January 1939. On that day they recorded one of their typical efforts, something called Knock Kneed Sal. On the other side of the record they featured Bill Kenny singing If I Didn't Care, with Jones handling a talking chorus. The record was an instant hit and Mr. Kenny's smooth, four-octave tenor voice became the group's passport to fame. In the years that followed their Decca recording formula was seldom altered -- a few opening guitar chords, Mr. Kenny's solo, a talking chorus while Mr. Kenny hummed in the background, and then Mr. Kenny's closing solo. Mr.
26Mar/78 Boston Globe - Cont'd the IS won popularity polls, their records were perenially big sellers and they appeared in movies and all the top radio shows...always featuring the voice of Bill Kenny. Mr. Kenny made his first appearance in Boston in 1938 at the old Gardner Hotel. In later years the IS were to play Loew's State Theater, the RKO-Boston, the Latin Quarter and summers at the Salisbury Beach Frolics. The IS broke up in 1952 and Mr. Kenny recorded as a single and made guest appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show and the Merv Griffin Show. He also appeared for a week at Blinstrub's in South Boston. After Mr. Kenny left the group, various singing quartets calling themselves the IS, were formed and several IS groups are still operating today. In July 1969, Mr. Kenny was seriously burned when gasoline fumes flowed into his car and were ignited when he struck a match to light a cigar. Complications and pneumonia later set in and the singer was critically ill for a number of weeks. Seemingly recovered from the effects of the fire, Mr. Kenny was stricken with myasthenia gravis, a disease characterized by exhaustion of the muscular system. To correct this his thymus gland was removed. Mr. Kenny again recovered and last fall recorded an album, Bill Kenny is Back. He was booked for a week's engagement at the opening of the Quadra, a new nighclub in Vancouver, next month. Those who saw Bill Kenny with the IS during the World War II years still remember his stirring version of The Star-Spangled Banner, which he would use to close each show. Mr. Kenny was a deeply religious man and recorded Precious Memories, an album of religious songs. He had lived in Vancouver for the last 25 years and several years ago had his own program on the Canadian TV network. He leave his wife, Audrey (Macburney), whom he married in 1949; a daughter, Dixie of Vancouver, and his brother, Herbert Kenny of Baltimore. Some of Mr. Kenny's best remembered songs will be
29 Sep/82 e-17 Anchorage Daily News *Former Ink Spots Singer Dead at 70 - Discusses death of Billy Bowen who died Monday at a NY hospital after a short illness. Bowen joined IS in 1944 to replace Deek Watson who fell ill [not correct]. Bowen was born in Birmingham, Ala and is survived by his wife Ruth, two brothers and two sisters.
 7Apr/95 Miff Campbell, 89 -  Death notice for 2Apr/95. A mixed up article that claims Campbell performed with the Ink Spots [false] as well as the Riff Brothers [correct].

 

LAST REVISED - Jan14/01