The Four Tunes - RCA Victor
The Four Tunes left Manor/Arco Records and signed with RCA Victor in 1949. Their resultant first release was "Careless Love"/"Your Heartless" on RCA Victor 0008 in May 1949. Above: (Top L-R) Jimmy Nabbie (first tenor), Jimmy Gordon (bass), (Bottom L-R) Pat Best (baritone, guitar), Danny Owens (second tenor).
Their first RCA Victor recording session was on 4/11/49 and the last was on 12/28/51. This produced 17 releases between 5/49 and 11/53. The last release was "Don't Get Around Much Anymore"/"Water Boy" on RCA Victor 5532.
Although not credited on the label, The Four Tunes did back up Savannah Churchill on "(It's No) Sin"/"I Don't Believe In Tomorrow" released on RCA Victor 4280 in 1951. This was to be their last session with Savannah. They did get label credit on RCA Victor 3149 backing up Juanita Hall on "Old Bojangles Is Gone"/"I'm In The Mood For Love" released in January 1950. Juanita later played Bloody Mary in the stage and movie versions of "South Pacific".
Their stay at RCA Victor was financially unrewarding. Manor/Arco, who still owned the rights to The Four Tunes, sued for breach of contract and won! Manor/Arco continued to release Four Tunes material well into 1950. The Four Tunes did not receive royalties from RCA Victor, the statements always showing in the red, purportedly due to the settlement.
It was difficult to categorize The Four Tunes at this time... they weren't really "rhythm and blues" or "pop blues" either. They had their own sound. RCA Victor told them that they were too polished, too smooth, too perfect in their singing to sell well... that some flaws were needed to attract the public's attention! Perhaps RCA Victor wanted more of a "rhythm and blues" style like some of the other groups on the label (The Heartbreakers, Billy Bunn and his Buddies, and later, The Du Droppers and Robins).
RCA Victor did little to promote the group. However, The Four Tunes' releases sold consistently well, possibly due to the publicity resulting from their heavy schedule of personal appearances. They played The Apollo (NYC), Royal (Baltimore), Blue Mirror (DC), Howard Theater (DC), Chesapeake Lounge (Cottage City, MD), Chubby's (NJ), Park Avenue Cafe (NYC), Showboat (Philly), Barclay Hotel (Toronto), Club 421 (Philly), Club Harlem (Atlantic City), and The Rainbow Room (York, PA).
After leaving RCA Victor, The Four Tunes joined Jubilee Records in 1953, where they would have smash hits with "Marie" and "I Understand (Just How You Feel)", the latter song written by Pat Best.
REALAUDIO: To listen to The Vintage Group Harmony Show Special "The Four Tunes - RCA Victor 78 RPM Records", click Streaming or Download (1/2 hour, 4.6MB).
During their stay with RCA Victor, The Four Tunes would perform for the Armed Forces as a means of promotion, as well as good will. They did this several times in Washington, DC and once in Hawaii (not a bad place to go). At least one time at Walter Reed Hospital in DC, because the patients were all amputees, they went from bed to bed singing.
There was at least one Armed Forces Radio Service (AFRS) transcription record made (circa 1951) while The Four Tunes were at RCA Victor. This contained four songs, all of which were redone renditions of their RCA Victor sides (See label image for titles).
REALAUDIO: To listen to this transcription record (AFRS#P-3613), click Streaming or Download (10 minutes, 1.5MB).
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Last Updated: 11/20/04
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