Previous Vocal Group Record of the Week
#791 (7/6/13 - 7/19/13)


"Jumpin' Jive"
by Larry Breese And His Orchestra
Vocal by The Four Toppers
on Ammor 101B
released in 1940


AFRO-AMERICAN NEWSPAPER, Dec. 21, 1940—The Four Toppers (above) are in their second year at the Jade, in the heart of Hollywood. These four lads rank with the best in the country, singing both sweet and hot numbers. Reading from left to right: (kneeling) Jimmy Springs, first tenor; Dave Patillo, second tenor; (standing) Richy Davis, baritone singer, whose musical instrument is the bass fiddle; and Steve Gibson, bass singer and guitar player. They have done radio, stage and screen work and are troupers of the first class.

Click HERE for an article about The Four Toppers/The Red Caps by Marv Goldberg.
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Above: The Four Toppers (L-R) Jimmy Springs, David Patillo, Richard Davis, and Steve Gibson, from Afro-American Newspaper dated 3/14/42.

Above Left: Afro-American Newspaper, Dec. 21, 1940—CEELLE BURKE, newest sensation in music circles on the Pacific Coast, who is the leader of the orchestra which plays nightly at the Bal Tabarin and which was the first aggregation to record Leon Rene's hit tune, "When The Swallows Come Back To Capistrano."

Above Right: Afro-American Newspaper, Nov. 8, 1941—THE KING COLE TRIO, featuring Nat (King) Cole at the piano, Oscar Moore on the guitar and Wesley Prince on bass, which has clicked solidly at Kelly's Stable on Fifty-Second Street, New York, with such numbers as Walter Bishop's new opus, "The Devil Sat Down And Cried." They're set to record this and other tunes shortly for Decca.

(Otis René and Jack Gutshall 1945)
The AMMOR RECORD CORPORATION, located in Hollywood, CA., was formed in late 1939 or early 1940. Most likely, it was owned and operated by Otis René, although his brother, Leon René, appears to have also been involved. It's possible that Jack Gutshall, a big-name record distributor, might have been associated with the label, perhaps financially. Otis had been a pharmacist in New Orleans before getting into the record business.

Seven of the first eight releases were by Larry Breese And His Orchestra. Of these, one side each of their first two releases had vocal by The Four Toppers. Other artists to have releases on Ammor are Ceelle Burke And His Orchestra, The King Cole Trio, The Pied Pipers, Claude Hopkins And His Orchestra, and Seger Ellis And His Orchestra. Burke's original version of the Leon René composition "When The Swallows Come Back To Capistrano" was on the Ammor label.

Ammor is supposedly an acronym for Automatic Music Machine Operators Recording, which means the label’s purpose was to sell to juke box operators. If so, it was not a particularly successful mode of operation, the label existed for three years and had about twenty releases.

After Ammor shut down, Otis and Leon successfully formed the Excelsior and Exclusive labels, respectively. As carryovers, The King Cole Trio recorded for Excelsior and Ceelle Burke recorded for Exclusive. Jack Gutshall was distributor for both labels.

Above: Label image of Ammor 101B released about March 1940. This was The Four Toppers' second of two records, one side each, on Ammor with Larry Breese's Orchestra. While the group did appear in some films, their only known records are the two on Ammor and two transcription discs made in 1941. In mid-1943, with some personnel revamps, they changed their name to The Five Red Caps and enjoyed a very successful career.

Listen to this week's selection by The Four Toppers on Ammor 101B from 1940:
[Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]

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