The Ink Spots

The Ink Spots

Infobox musical artist
Name = The Ink spots

Img_capt =
Background = group_or_band
Birth_name =
Alias =
Born =
Died =
Origin = Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.
Instrument =
Genre = Vocal
Occupation =
Years_active = 1931 – 1964
Label = Victor, Decca
Associated_acts =
Current_members =
Past_members = Jerry Daniels
Bill Kenny
Charlie Fuqua
Deek Watson
Hoppy Jones
Bernie Mackey
Huey Long
Billy Bowen
Cliff Givens
Herb Kenny
James Nabbie

The Ink Spots were a popular black vocal group that helped define the musical genre that led to rhythm & blues and rock and roll, and the subgenre doo-wop. They and the Mills Brothers, another black vocal group of the 1930s and 1940s, gained much acceptance in the white community.

Early years

The Ink Spots formed in the early 1930s in Indianapolis. The original members were :-:Orville "Hoppy" Jones (b. 17 February 1902, Chicago, Illinois - d. 18 October 1944, New York City) (bass) (Played bass guitar):Ivory "Deek" Watson (b. 18 July 1909, Mounds, Illinois - d. 4 November 1969, Washington, DC) (tenor) (Played guitar and trumpet):Jerry Daniels (b. 14 December 1915 - 7 November 1995, Indianapolis, Indiana) (tenor) (Played guitar and ukulele):Charlie Fuqua (b. 20 October 1910 - 21 December 1971, New Haven, Connecticut) (baritone) (Played guitar)

As "Jerry and Charlie", Daniels and Fuqua had formed a vocal duo performing in the Indianapolis area around 1931. About the same time, Jones and Watson were part of a quartet, "The Four Riff Brothers", who appeared regularly on radio station WLW in Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1933, that group disbanded, and Watson, Daniels and Fuqua got together to form a new vocal, instrumental and comedy group, which was initially called "King, Jack, and Jester". They continued to appear regularly on radio in Ohio, and became a foursome when Jones was added to the group the following year.

In July 1934 they accepted a booking at the Apollo Theater, New York, supporting Tiny Bradshaw. At that point they changed their name to "The 4 Ink Spots" at the request of bandleader Paul Whiteman, to avoid confusion with his vocal group "The King's Jesters". Later that year, The Ink Spots achieved international success touring the UK with Jack Hylton's Orchestra, one review in the Melody Maker stating

They first recorded for Victor Records in 1935, but although the group was growing rapidly in popularity their early record releases were not commercially successful. The following year Daniels left, and was replaced by Bill Kenny (b. 12 June 1914, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - d. 23 March 1978, Vancouver, British Columbia). Also in 1936, they appeared on the first NBC demonstration television programmes.

For the next two years, their popularity grew through radio programs and tours. After a series of unsuccessful recordings for Victor Records and Decca Records, they had their first smash hit with "If I Didn't Care", a song written by Jack Lawrence, on Decca, in 1939. They released such other Decca singles as "Address Unknown" (1939), "My Prayer" (1939), "When The Swallows Come Back To Capistrano" (1940), "Whispering Grass" (1940), "Do I Worry" (1940), "Java Jive" (1940), "Shout, Brother, Shout" (1942), "Don't Get Around Much Anymore" (1942), "I Can't Stand Losing You" (1943), "Cow-Cow Boogie" (1944 - with Ella Fitzgerald), "Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall"/"I'm Making Believe" (1944 - both with Ella Fitzgerald), and "The Gypsy" (1946). Many of these records made # 1 on early versions of the US pop charts - "The Gypsy" was their biggest chart success, staying at the # 1 position for 13 weeks.

They also recorded for Grand Award Records (2 records in 1955, 1 in 1956-57 and 1 in 1958).


Charlie Fuqua was drafted in 1944, and was replaced by Bernie Mackey. Hoppy Jones, an important personality to the group, died in late 1944, near the height of their popularity. Bill Kenny and Deek Watson then began feuding, leading to fragmentation in 1945, when Watson went on to form a group called the Brown Dots (which later became the 4 Tunes). He later formed a host of offshoot Ink Spots groups in the 1950s and 1960s. His place was taken in the original group by Billy Bowen, and Jones' by Cliff Givens (who was replaced after a short time by Herb Kenny, Bill's brother). Mackey left at this time and was briefly replaced by Huey Long.

Charlie Fuqua was discharged in 1945 and returned to the group later that year, replacing Huey Long. This lineup recorded into the early 1950s, when Herb Kenny left and was replaced by Adriel McDonald. Bowen left the next year and was replaced by Teddy Williams. Ernie Brown substituted for Williams for a short time. Fuqua parted with the group and was replaced first by Jimmy Cannady, then by Everett Barksdale. Fuqua would lead a separate Ink Spots group in the future.

Around 1954, Brown and Barksdale both left, making the group Bill Kenny, Adriel McDonald, new member Henry Braswell, and an unknown fourth member. At this point the group was invited to appear on "The Ed Sullivan Show". Kenny agreed, but told the other members of the group that he could not pay them. The other members angrily left. Braswell was out and would never tour with any Ink Spots groups. Bill Kenny sang solo with an instrumental backing band (consisting of the returning Everett Barksdale, Harry Prather, and Andrew Maze), touring as "Bill Kenny and his Ink Spots". This group appeared on "Ed Sullivan", angering Sullivan enough to bill the group last. [] Kenny later performed with Joe Boatner's Ink Spots in the summer of 1962. The group's pianist at the time of the split was Fletcher Smith, he would later perform in Orlando Roberson's Ink Spots.

The only other link to the original group was Adriel McDonald. He continued touring with a new group: the returning Huey Long, Walter Springer, and Orlando Roberson. Henry Baxter later replaced Springer. In the late 1950s, Roberson and Long were out (both would perform with and lead other Ink Spots groups), and former Clover John "Buddy" Bailey and Abel De Costa were in. McDonald and De Costa became the group's only consistent members through the 1960s. Bob Williams replaced Bailey and Jimmy McLin replaced Baxter. Later both were out, and William "Frosty" Pyles and former Raven Joe Van Loan were in. Then these two were replaced by Richard Lanham (later Grant Kitchlings) and Matt McKinney.]

At this point, McDonald fell ill and the group split. [] McDonald did not tour further with any Ink Spots groups. De Costa joined Bernie Mackey's group (which had already existed for some time). McKinney joined Bob Williams Ink Spots (new at this time). Kitchlings would join Mackey's group (at a later date than De Costa). Note, however, that several other members that had left the group at earlier times, notably Charlie Fuqua and Deek Watson, had started their own Ink Spots groups by this time.

Legitimate members of the Victor and Decca group included Jerry Daniels, Bill Kenny, Deek Watson, Charlie Fuqua, Hoppy Jones, Bernie Mackey, Huey Long, Cliff Givens, Billy Bowen, Herb Kenny, Adriel McDonald, Ernie Brown, Teddy Williams, Jimmy Cannady, Bob Benson, Asa "Ace" Harris, Bill Doggett, Ray Tunia, Harold Francis, Fletcher Smith, Henry Braswell, and Everett Barksdale. As far as is known, these are the "only" singers and accompanists who deserve to be called "original" Ink Spots (that is, those who were in the group that recorded for Victor and Decca), although dozens, possibly hundreds, of others have claimed that honor over the decades. Some singers have tenuous ties to Deek Watson's or Charlie Fuqua's offshoot groups; many, with no credentials whatever, just "claim" to be "original" members. As far as is known, the "only" surviving member of the Decca group in 2008 was Huey Long, who turned 104 in April of that year. Long is currently living in a Houston Heights-area nursing home in Houston, TX.

The Ink Spots were the subject of a 1998 book by Marv Goldberg: "More Than Words Can Say: The Ink Spots And Their Music". The group was inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1999. The Ink Spots were even inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as influences, in 1989; this induction consisted of Bill Kenny, Charlie Fuqua, Deek Watson, and Hoppy Jones.


Many Ink Spots songs begin with the same four bar introduction, using the chords I - #idim - ii7 - V7.

"If I Didn’t Care", the first major hit for The Ink Spots.

In popular culture

*"If I Didn't Care" appears on the soundtracks of "Radio Days" and "The Shawshank Redemption". Ridley Scott intended for it to be used in "Blade Runner" to back the scene where Deckard buys alcohol in a street market, but was unable to obtain the necessary clearances. Instead he asked composer Vangelis to write a new song in the same style; the result was "One More Kiss, Dear", which has a near-identical rhythm and structure, including a spoken section mid-way through. The song is also sung in the same manner as the original (Scott had previously used The Ink Spots singing "I Don't Want to Set the World on Fire" in his classic 1979 Chanel No.5 TV ad entitled "Share the Fantasy"). The song is often sung by Fred G. Sanford on the 1970s television series "Sanford and Son". It also appears in "BioShock" for the Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and PC.

*The Ink Spots are impersonated by The Modernaires on the hit record "Juke Box Saturday Night" by Glenn Miller and His Orchestra; however, in order to prevent a lawsuit from the publishers of "If I Didn't Care", Miller had the Modernaires sing a similar original piece called "If I Didn't Know". "Juke Box Saturday Night", with the Ink Spots impersonation, was the last song performed by the Glenn Miller band on its last radio broadcast before being disbanded and Miller entered the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1942.

*"Do I Worry" and "Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall" (with Ella Fitzgerald) were used in the BBC TV series "The Singing Detective".

*The song "Do I Worry" also appeared in Martin Scorsese's film "The Aviator" and its soundtrack.

* The Ink Spots cover of the song "Maybe" (originally sung by "Perry Como") is known in certain gaming circles as the opening and closing music of the game "Fallout". The song was chosen after the developers failed to acquire a license for "I Don't Want to Set the World on Fire". "Maybe" fit with the underlying themes of the game, as well as echoing the feelings the player character has after the ending. Bethesda Softworks, the new developers, have since gained a license for "I Don't Want to Set the World on Fire", as evidenced by the trailer for "Fallout 3".

*The song "I Don't Want to Set the World on Fire" was used in the opening of the Megadeth song "Set the World Afire" on the 1988 album So Far, So Good... So What!, in the first teaser for "Fallout 3", in the 1993 movie "Wilder Napalm", and in a Chanel No 5 commercial in 1983. It was also featured in the Ealing comedy "Passport to Pimlico". Molly, the fishmonger's assistant played by Jane Hylton, sings the song to herself at the beginning of the film and then later on aloud to piano accompaniment in the pub while some of the other characters dance to it. It was also used in an post world destruction themed episode of "The Simpsons", and was sung by a group of singing firemen on "The Muppet Show" in episode 3 of season 3. []

*The Ink Spots were impersonated, for satiric effect, by Spike Jones and His City Slickers in the first portion of their rendition of "You Always Hurt the One You Love".

*"The Java Jive" inspired [ Bob's Java Jive] (built 1927, named in 1955), a jungle-themed tea-pot shaped lounge in Tacoma, Washington.


External links

* [ Vocal Group Hall of Fame page on The Ink Spots]
* [ The Ink Spots Evolution]
* [ Ink Spots Info Site]
* [ The Ink Spots]

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