l to r: billy kenny, billy bowen, herb kenny and charlie fuqua
The Ink Spots were from Indianapolis, Indiana, United States.
The original group recorded between 1934–1954, for the Victor, Decca imprints
Past Ink Spots members:
Orville ‘Hoppy’ Jones (bass singer - b. 17th February 1902, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A., d. 18th October 1944, New York City, New York, U.S.A.)
Ivory ‘Deek’ Watson (tenor singer - b. 18th July 1909, Mounds, Illinois, U.S.A., d. 4th November 1969, Washington, D.C., U.S.A.).
Jerry Daniels (tenor singer - b. 14th December 1915, U.S.A., d. 7th November 1995, Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.A.).
Charlie Fuqua (baritone singer - b. 20th October 1910, U.S.A., d. 21st December 1971, New Haven, Connecticut, U.S.A.).
Bill Kenny (b. 12th June 1914, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A., d. 23rd March 1978, New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada.)
Bernard 'Bernie' Arthurneal Mackey (b. 29th July 1909, U.S.A., d. 12th March 1980, Miami, Florida, U.S.A.)
Huey Long (b. 25th April 1904, Sealy, Texas, U.S.A. d. 10th June 2009, Houston, Texas, U.S.A.)
Billy 'Butterball' Bowen (b. 1909, Birmingham, Alabama, U.S.A. d. Neurological Institute-the Presbyterian Hospital, New York, U.S.A.)
Clifton 'Cliff' Givens (b. 17th January 1918, Newark, New Jersey, U.S.A. d. 6th June 1989, U.S.A.)
Herb Kenny (b. 12th June 1914, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. d. 11th July 1992, Columbia, Maryland, U.S.A.)
The Ink Spots were a group who were an integral part of the emergence of R&B and Doo Wop.
Their heyday came during the Thirties and Forties during the previous century.
Thanks to the group’s versatile lead singer, Bill Kenny, they were widely accepted across all types of audience.
Under the name of ‘Kyle and Charlie’, Jerry Daniels and Charlie Fuqua formed a duo in Indianapolis in 1931.
Meanwhile, Orville Jones and Ivory Watson sang in a quartet called ‘The Four Riff Brothers’.
the four riff brothers
The group comprised of Miff Campbell, Ivory Deek Watson, Orville Hoppy Jones and Slim Green.
When the Four Riff Brothers disbanded Ivory, Jerry and Charlie, put together a group called ‘King, Jack, and Jester’.
This group performed on the radio stations in Ohio, adding Orville, to become a quartet in 1934.
That year they performed at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem.
It was around this time they changed their name to ‘The 4 Ink Spots.
The Ink Spots then departed on a UK tour with Jack Hylton's Orchestra.
They then signed a deal with Victor Records in 1935.
swing, gate, swing b/w don't 'low no swingin' in here - 1935 / your feets too big b/w swingin' on the strings - 1935 / let's call the whole thing off b/w slap that bass - 1937 / if i didn't care b/w knock kneed sal (on the mourner's bench) - 1939
At Victor Records their early recordings included ‘Swingin' On The Strings’, ‘Your Feet's Too Big’ and ‘Don't 'Low No Swingin' In Here’.
In 1936 Jerry Daniels was replaced by a Baltimore singer named Bill Kenny.
It was Bill’s vocal ranges which are credited to the group’s future global success.
1938, Bill brought in a new form of singing, called Top To Bottom, which was to transform then group’s sound.
An early example a Bill Kenny fronted song was, ‘I Wish You the Best of Everything’.
In 1939, The Ink Spots recorded in Decca studios ‘If I Didn't Care’, which went on to be a big hit.
The song sold over 19 million copies, reached the US Pop Charts, and became the 7th-best-selling single of all time.
l to r: billy bowen, bill kenny, herb kenny and charlie fuqua
It was an early example of the Top & Bottom style of delivery, which between 1939, and the group's disbanding in 1954, became the format of choice for the group.
Another big hit in 1939, was the ballad ‘Address Unknown’, (their first number 1 hit on the U.S. Pop Charts).
Further singles followed, including ‘My Prayer’, ‘Bless You’, ‘Memories of You’, and ‘I’m Gettin' Sentimental Over You’.
Between 1940 and 1949 the Ink Spots achieved a further 30 hits on the U.S. Pop Charts.
whispering grass (don't tell the trees) b/w maybe - 1940 / i'm making believe b/w into each life some rain must fall - 1944
Some of these tracks reached the number one spot, including ‘The Gypsy’, ‘I’m Making Believe’, and ‘Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall’.
Ella Fitzgerald collaborated with The Ink Spots in 1945 for ‘I’m Beginning to See the Light’ and ‘That's the Way It Is’.
During the Forties, the Ink Spots began to feature in the movies, including ‘The Great American Broadcast’, and ‘Pardon My Sarong’.
Charlie Fuqua was drafted in 1943, and was replaced by Bernie Mackey.
Hoppy Jones died in late 1944 after collapsing on stage at the Cafe Zanzibar in New York City.
Bill Kenny and Ivory Watson fell out with each other, with Ivory forming his own group called the Brown Dots.
His place was taken by Billy Bowen, whilst ‘Hoppy’ was replaced by Cliff Givens.
rear: bill kenny front l to r: huey long, billy bowen and herb kenny
Bernie Mackey then left the group and was briefly replaced by Huey Long.
Charlie Fuqua was discharged in 1945 and returned to the group, subsequently, replacing Huey Long.
This lineup of Bill Kenny, Billy Bowen, Charlie Fuqua, and Herb Kenny recorded into the early Fifties.
Herb Kenny then left and was replaced by Adriel McDonald.
Following further personnel changes, in 1954, Bill Kenny officially disbanded The Ink Spots after an appearance in New Jersey.
In 1952, Charlie Fuqua left the original Ink Spots, forming his own version of the group.
Bill Kenny formed his own Ink Spots group.
To add to the confusion, Ivory Watson started his own Ink Spots group in 1954.
Due to legal naming loopholes ‘The Ink Spots’ appeared in numerous formats across the U.S.
From 1954 to the present day there have been over 100 groups performing under the name of ‘the Ink Spots’.
l to r: billy bowen, hey long, bill kenny and herb kenny
The original Ink Spots were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1999.
America's Favorite Music (Waldorf Music Records 1950)
The Ink Spots Volume 1 (Decca Records 1950)
The Ink Spots Volume 2 (Decca Records 1950)
Precious Memories (Decca Records 1951)
Street Of Dreams (Decca Records 1954)
If I Didn't Care (Decca Records 1956)
Time Out For Tears (Decca Records 1957)
Torch Time (Decca Records 1958)
Something Old, Something New (King Records 1958)
Sincerely Yours (King Records 1958)
Songs That Will Live Forever (King Records 1959)
Favourites (King Records 1960)
Lost In A Dream (King Records 1965)
Stanley Morgan's Ink Spots In London (King Records 1977)
Just Like Old Times (Open Sky Records 1982)