SPOTLIGHT ON THE INK SPOTS - PART TWO
"Home Is Where
"I'll Make Up
"I Woke Up With A
"A Fool Grows Wise"
"More Of The Same
"You May Be The Sweetheart
Above: Bill Kenny was the sweet tenor lead of The Ink Spots, joining the group in 1936 and staying until their demise in 1953.
For an accurate, complete biography of The Ink Spots, this website recommends the book "More Than Words Can Say" by Marv Goldberg.
Above: The Ink Spots (L-R) Bill Kenny (lead tenor), Billy Bowen (tenor), Herb Kenny (bass), and Charlie Fuqua (baritone and guitarist).
Above Left: "Frank Sabastain" is most likely Frank Sebastian, night club proprietor, who had operated the Cotton Club in Culver City, CA, in the 1920's and 30's.
Above: The Ink Spots (L-R) Billy Bowen, Bill Kenny, Herb Kenny, and Charlie Fuqua.
Directly Above: THE BILLBOARD COVER, September 6, 1947:
They look happy, the Ink Spots (shown are Billy Bowen, Herb Kenny, Charlie Fuqua, 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 fracus 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 four Ink Spots in England, incidentally, is rivaled only by the tremendous following built up here in the homeland....
(L-R) Billy Bowen, Bill Kenny, Herb Kenny, and Charlie Fuqua.
(Top L-R) Cliff Givens (bass), Billy Bowen, Bernie Mackey (baritone), (Bottom) Bill Kenny.
(Top L-R) Billy Bowen, Cliff Givens, Bernie Mackey, and (Bottom) Bill Kenny.
"The Great American Broadcast" 1941 (L-R) Deek Watson, Bill Kenny, Hoppy Jones, and Charlie Fuqua.
Above: THE CASH BOX COVER, January 17, 1948: THE INK SPOTS
Top male vocal combo of the nation for two successive years. The Ink Spots and their Decca Records have been continual musts in juke boxes throughout the nation. Piloted by Billy Kenny, the group recently set smash attendance records during their tour through England. Gale Agency, Inc. Personal Manager: Moe Gale.
(Left-Right: Billy Bowen, Bill Kenny, Herb Kenny, and Charlie Fuqua.)
Above Left: PITTSBURGH POST GAZETTE, December 21, 1949:
BACK TO STANLEY FOR CHRISTMASThe Ink Spots, holders of the house record at the Stanley prior to Danny Kaye's recent engagement there, will return to that theater on Friday to head the Christmas Week stage show. Billy Kenny, the organizer of the quartet, is at the top....
Above Right: The Ink Spots (Photo provided by Hans-Joachim Krohberger.)
Above: DAYTON DAILY NEWS (Ohio), May 6, 1945:
THE INK SPOTSBilly Bowen, Huey Long and Herbert Kenny, with Bill Kenny, shown in background.
(NOTE: Huey Long joined the group in the spring of 1945 and stayed with them for almost a year. Charlie Fuqua was away on army duty.)
Above: COURIER JOURNAL (Louisville, KY), May 7, 1948:
NATIONALThe next stage attraction will be the Ink Spots, nationally popular foursome of harmonizers. They will open their engagement on the National stage on Friday, following the current program featuring Tiny Hill and his orchestra.
(Left-Right: Bill Kenny, Billy Bowen, Herb Kenny, and Charlie Fuqua.)
Lancaster (Ohio) Eagle-Gazette dated 6/28/41.
Above: MINNEAPOLIS STAR, June 13, 1949:
INK SPOTS IMITATE THE INK SPOTSThe Ink Spots (left to right): Herbert Kenny, Billy Bowen, Charlie Fuqua, and Bill Kenny imitate themselves at Club Carnival.
(NOTE: Check out who's playing what instrument... not!)
Above: EVENING CITIZEN (Ottawa, Canada), October 4, 1950:
MEET THE "INK SPOTS"Taking a little time out from their popular duties at the new Standish Hall, are the four "Ink Spots", a musical aggregation that has charmed millions of music lovers. Pictured above are Billy "Butterball" Bowen, Bill "The Voice" Kenny, Herb Kenny, and Charles Fuqua.
ARTICLES AND BLURBS....
NEW YORK AGE, April 6, 1935: "INK SPOTS" GET $700 IN SINCLAIR RADIO PROGRAM
The "Four Ink Spots," newest radio sensation, wrote their name high on the radio boards Monday night when they drew down $700 as guest artists on the Sinclair national hookup program at 9 p.m. The program originated at WENR of Chicago and the "Ink Spots" come in over WJZ of New York as minstrel boys. The "Ink Spots" got their first chance over N.B.C. as sustaining [no commercials] artists late in February and have made good.
NEW YORK AGE, May 4, 1935: "INK SPOTS" RETURN
The four "Ink Spots," top-notch radio boys whose rise to the "big money" class has been phenominal, returned to New York City last week after filling spots on the Sinclair oil program originating from Chicago. The boys resume their three-times-a-week sustaining broadcast from Radio City.
NEW YORK AGE, November 9, 1935: 4 INK SPOTS COMING TO THE APOLLO NEXT WEEK
The Four Ink Spots, who come to the Apollo Theatre Friday are the newest sensation of radio and screen. They broadcast three times weekly over a nation-wide NBC network. They are being starred in pictures. They sing like the Mills Brothers, dance like the Rhythm Kings, and have a distinctive style of mirth and melody. They are making their first theatre appearance at the Apollo next week and will repeat on the stage the triumph they have scored on the air and in several nationally-famous night clubs....
(NOTE: The credit for "being starred in pictures" was more than five years premature.)
PITTSBURGH COURIER, June 17, 1939: FOUR INK SPOTS, OF 'IF I DIDN'T CARE' FAME, SENSATIONAL IN PHILLY
PHILADELPHIAThe Four Inkspots, whose original recording of the song hit, "If I Didn't Care," has become all but a national theme song, are the largest sensation to hit this city. Brought into the swank Rathskeller here a few days ago for a two weeks run with an option of four, the boys proved such a tremendous success, the option was taken up the second night and stretched to eight weeks with another option of six more. In every sense of the word, the Ink Spots are coming into their own and are seemingly taking up where the Mills Brothers left off several seasons ago. The recording of the tune, "If I Didn't Care," made for Decca, is one of the biggest sellers in the record field today with a good chance of matching the sales record set by Ella Fitzgerald's "A Tisket A Tasket" put out by the same company.
PITTSBURGH COURIER, July 20, 1940: INK SPOTS INSURED FOR $100,000 BY MOE GALE
NEW YORKMoe Gale, president of Gale, Inc., band manager and booker, this week completed a deal which insures the famous Four Ink Spots for $100,000. Currently appearing at the Rathskeller in Philadelphia, where they first captured national fame with their 'If I Didn't Care' sender, the Spots are still the Quaker City's favorite entertainers. The policies taken out by Gale, who also manages Ella Fitzgerald, Erskine Hawkins, Coleman Hawkins, and the Sunset Royal Ork, are separated into $25,000 for each member of the famous quartet.
PITTSBURGH COURIER, September 28, 1940: INK SPOTS HELD OVER ANOTHER FOUR WEEKS AT CHI'S BLACK HAWK
CHICAGODespite the plight that it will put their scheduled theatrical tour in, and the pleadings of their personal manager, Moe Gale, to let them go and return at a later date, the manager of the Black Hawk Restaurant here stood on his rights of option and held the famous Ink Spots over for an additonal four weeks. Coming into the Black Hawk several weeks ago as the first colored act to tread the spot's boards in heaven knows when, the Spots were overwhelmingly successful from the start. Feeling the weight of their popularity, the Black Hawk is now in a state of boom business. Completing their session here the Inks will start an extensive theater tour that will see them harrying every important theater front in the country. They will play a return session at the Paramount in New York where they did a four week's holdover turn during the summer.
JACKSON SUN (Tennessee), April 13, 1941: INK SPOTS AND BAND WILL PLAY HERE ON MAY 1
The nationally famous "Four Ink Spots" and their N.B.C. orchestra have just been booked for a concert and dance at the Armory Thursday, May 1. This quartet is at present on a southern tour which includes their Jackson engagement. Included in their company are nineteen performers. Arrangements are being made for a concert and dance starting at 9 p.m. The dancing will be for colored only with the entire balcony reserved for white spectators....
DUNKIRK (NY) EVENING OBSERVER, January 13, 1945:
That involved battle over control of the Inkspots, noted Negro quartet, has been settled out of court. Moe Gale, the talent man who promoted four porters at New York Paramount Theater into the thousands-a-week class under the name Inkspots [sic "Ink Spots"], will retain control for the duration of the contract, four and a half years. Billy Kenny, who has a tenor voice to match his extreme height, remains as the head man. He was not one of the original Inkspotstwo of whom are dead and another in the army. Deke Watson, one of the original four, drops out to form a different group of his own, The Inkspot in the army, Charles Fuqua, will draw a salary and royalties from records while he is in the service, which ought to make him one of Uncle Sam's best paid protectors.
(NOTE: Of the other two original members, Hoppy Jones had died in 1944, but Jerry Daniels was still quite alive.)
PITTSBURGH COURIER, February 10, 1945: INKSPOTS SLATED FOR APOLLO DATE
NEW YORKThe Four Inkspots [sic], greatest singing quartet, will headline the stage show at the Apollo during the week beginning Friday. Although time and circumstances have wrought some changes in the personnel of the act during the past year, there is still no doubt about two things. First, that they are still far and away the greatest singing foursome on the stage and second, they are better than they ever were. Billy Kenny remains the pivot around which the Spots revolve. Voices and personalities like his come only once in a generation, and the emotional depth of his voice can only be defined as a divine gift with which few singers are blessed. Sales of the Inkspots' recordings have soared to astronomical heights largely because of Billy Kenny's voice. Other things which characterize the act are the comedy interludes and the instrumental background, both of which are today present in the act in even greater measure than ever before....
PITTSBURGH COURIER, February 5, 1949: INK SPOTS IN NEW DEAL WITH GALE AGENCY INC.
NEW YORKWith everything forgotten except the highly successful year they have just come through, the ever popular Ink Spots affixed their John Hancocks to a new three-year contract with Gale Inc., last week. The new pact, accepted in trade circles as a first feather in the new Gale Inc. presidential hat of Tim Gale, gives that member of the Gale clan one of the biggest bets in the profession to work with. It also disapproves the rumors that Billy Kenny had plans of looking elsewhere to deposit his 1949 booking commissions. In view of the great year the Ink Spots enjoyed in 1948, the best they've had in a long time, that was a nice piece of change for the agency.
Currently at the Capitol Theatre as stage headliners, the Spots were also honored for their turn at the Monte Carlo Club in Miami Beach. The first colored attraction to ever play the beach spot, the group, through the sensational agency booking, broke down a barrier that has kept the Negro out of this lucrative entertainment pasture since Florida became the winter wonderland of the Nation....Because of that Billy Kenny for the Spots and Tim Gale, president of the agency, were honored with a scroll and a plaque from the Negro Actors' Guild backstage at the Capitol Friday night....
NEW YORK AGE, March 26, 1949: INK SPOTS GET $75,000 OFFER
This land of the sugar cane has expressed a desire to dispense with a good deal of money that comes from their national product if the Ink Spots will bring thenselves and a full stage show south to Havana for a two-week engagement this spring. One of Cuba's largest theatrical syndicates wired Bill Kenny, leader of the quartet, explaining that if the Spots accepted the engagement, the Cuban group would rent a ballpark in Havana to accomodate audiences. Although asking prices for most top acts throughout the world are being lowered, the Carribean offer calls for the Ink Spots to receive $75,000 plus a percentage of the gate for their appearance. If negotiations are complete and all goes well in Havana with the quartet, then the Unites States can begin to travel southward.
Above Left: Label image of Decca 24192 A recorded on August 18, 1947 and released in October 1947.
Above Right: Label image of Decca 24286 A recorded on November 21, 1947 and released in January 1948.
The Cash Box Review (1/24/48):THE INK SPOTS DECCA 24286.... It's All Over But The Crying/I'll Make Up For Everything
More soprano music flavored with some top notch harmony work spill from this rave combo, with the notes of "It's All Over But The Crying" echoing in splendid manner. It's the top vocal flavoring of The Ink Spots, with Bill Kenny to pitch the subdued tones of this cookie. Title gives off the pitch here with the group blending in tons of splendid rapture. The platter shows off some onion stuff and is suited for the shuffle crowd. On the flip with more melancholy music, the group gives out with "I'll Make Up For Everything", to come thru with more stuff tagged juke box. The name value plus the wax itself should prove the duo as buffalo skins.
LISTEN (Windows Media PLayer): "It's All Over But The Crying" - The Ink Spots - Decca 24286 B - 1948.
Above Left: Label image of Decca 24327 B recorded on November 24, 1947 and released in February 1948.
Above Right: Label image of Decca 27493 recorded on January 22, 1951 and released in April 1951.
The Cash Box Review (2/7/48):THE INK SPOTS DECCA 24327.... The Best Things In Life Are Free/I Woke Up With A Teardrop In My Eye
High soprano tones of Bill Kenny and the Ink Spots and the strains of "The Best Things In Life Are Free" spill here with the musical styling showing as effective all the way. Waxing in the slow mood follows the usual format of the combo, with Kenny's spot hogging the lime. On the flip with more melancholy music, the group offers the soft dulcet wordage to "I Woke Up With A Teardrop In My Eye." Cookie is a weeper and weaves in slow timing. Both sides should fit your machine in those spots that go for the group.
LISTEN (Windows Media PLayer): "The Best Things In Life Are Free" - The Ink Spots - Decca 24327 A - 1948.
Above: Label image of Decca 27632 recorded on January 17, 1951 and released in July 1951. Orchestra directed by Sy Oliver.
The Cash Box Review (6/30/51):THE INK SPOTS DECCA 27632.... What Can You Do?/More Of The Same Sweet You
Two very slow tunes are worked over on this disk by the Ink Spots. Bill Kenny takes the lead on each side as the boys come in later to help out. Sy Oliver's orchestra does the backing and ops who know the pulling power of Bill oughta listen carefully.
LISTEN (Windows Media PLayer): "What Can You Do?" - The Ink Spots - Decca 27632 - 1951.
Above: Label image of Decca 28164 recorded on April 7, 1952 and released in May 1952. "Featuring Bill Kenny". Again, Sy Oliver directs the orchestra.
Bill Kenny, backed by "The Ink Spots", sang this song on Steve Allen's TV show "Songs For Sale" on March 29, 1952. (Ref: "More Than Words Can Say" - Marv Goldberg)
NOTE: Most discographical information provided at this website is from Ferdie Gonzalez' Disco-File.
Listen to this week's selections featuring The Ink Spots on Decca from 1947/1951 using Windows Media Player:
[Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]
1. Home Is Where The Heart Is
2. I'll Make Up For Everything
3. I Woke Up With A Teardrop In My Eye
4. A Fool Grows Wise
5. More Of The Same Old You
6. You May Be The Sweetheart Of Somebody Else
ALL SIX SONGS played in sequence
ALL NINE SONGS ON THIS PAGE
played in sequence
[To download audio files, right-click on link
and then click "Save link (target) as..."]
At Right: Advertisement (The Cash Box 12/23/46)
Thank You..."Juke Box" operators...for your
unanimous votes...for "The Best Record of 1946"
...and for "The Best Male Vocal Combination
of 1946"...we assure you of our continued best
for the year to come. The Ink Spots
Click HERE for SPOTLIGHT ON THE INK SPOTS - PART ONE (DEEK WATSON - LEAD SINGER).
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