who started out singing with a barber-shop quartet called The Dapper Dans at Disneyland in Anaheim, California. The Dapper Dans
recorded a demo LP in 1964. It was
probably not long after that when Gene decided to leave the group and move
to Dallas, Texas, where he got work as a session vocalist on jingles and
got married and he and his wife went back west to Burbank, California,
which did not exactly suffer from a dearth of session work. Gene expanded into television and
soon became sought after as a backing vocalist for a wide array of artists
In 1969, he
appeared on Hugo Montenegro’s experimental album, Moog Power, which was programmed by
Paul Beaver. Gene sang the solo
on the Paul Anka song, “My Way”.
In the 1960s
and 1970s, Gene sang with several different vocal groups, often with the
same or similar personnel, like The Ron Hicklin
Singers, which often made up part of The Ray Conniff
Singers and The Anita Kerr Singers.
The Ron Hicklin Singers were, essentially, The Partridge Family
and the Union Gap, at least in the studio. They also sang “South American
Getaway” in Butch Cassidy and
the Sundance Kid, and performed the theme song to the hit TV show Batman.
In 1971, he
sang “The Shooting Gallery” in the Steve McQueen film, Le Mans. A year later, he joined a slew of
artists on the B.J. Thomas album, Rock
and Roll Lullaby. In 1974,
he performed on the Paul Williams album, Here Comes Inspiration, which reached a meager #165 on the
Billboard Top 200.
busy in 1975: Gene appeared on
the Elkie Brooks album, Rich Man’s Woman, took part in a TV special entitled Music in the Air with Ray Conniff, sang bass on the theme song to Happy Days, and even made an
appearance on The Tubes album, White
Punks on Dope.
In 1976, he
appeared on the Elton John album, Blue
Moves. A year later, he
hooked up with Dolly Parton on Here
You Come Again and was in yet another, erstwhile music group that
billed themselves as the Howdy-Cracker Vocal Review on the Herb Pedersen
album, Sandman. The group included Lowell George,
Dolly Parton, Johnny Rivers, and Linda Ronstadt.
In 1978, Gene
appeared on the soundtrack of Grease,
Captain & Tennille’s Dream,
Neil Diamond’s You Don’t
Bring Me Flowers, and along with Linda Harmon, Gloria Loring, and Alan Thicke, sang
the theme song to the TV program, Diff’rent
Strokes. The next year was
no less busy, with appearances on Alessi’s Words and Music, Frank
Sinatra’s Trilogy, Jerry
Lee Lewis’s eponymous album, and the soundtrack of Five Days from Home, on which he
sang the “Love Theme”.
The 1980s were
just as eclectic, if not moreso. He entered the ‘80s by singing
background vocals on The Johnny Van Zant
Band’s No More Dirty Deals. Gene also voiced Simon on Alvin
& the Chipmunks albums such as 1982’s Chipmunk Punk. The
same year, he performed on Sylvia’s Parachute and the soundtrack of The Dukes of Hazzard.
In 1983, he
accompanied Laura Branigan on Branigan 2. A year later,
he sang “Saturday Girl” on the soundtrack of Tank and performed backing vocals on
Toto’s Isolation. (Gene also sang bass on three of
Toto’s biggest hits, “Hold the Line”, “I’ll
Be over You”, and “Rosanna”.)
In 1985, he
made an appearance on Martin Lund’s Lundscapes. He also sang “Finale
(Don’t Feed the Plants)” and “Mean Green Mother from
Outer Space” on the soundtrack of Little
Shop of Horrors, released in 1986.
Gene slow down in the ‘90s.
He entered the decade on Something
in Red by Lorrie Morgan. In
1992, he went Off the Deep End
with Weird Al Yankovic, sang on the soundtrack of
Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland,
and celebrated the holidays with Neil Diamond on The Christmas Album.
He appeared on Harry Connick’s
Yuletide offering, When My Heart
Finds Christmas, the following year.
In 1994, he
did similar duties on Natalie Cole’s The Holly and the Ivy and reprised his role as Simon on A Very Merry Chipmunk. Simon went techno on 1996’s Club Chipmunk: The Dance Mixes. In 1997, Gene appeared with a
plethora of artists on Wouldn’t
it Be Nice: A Jazz Portrait of
Brian Wilson. He ended the
decade on another holiday note, Amy Grant’s A Christmas to Remember.
stuffers you can purchase with Gene’s name on them include Tony Rizzi’s Surfin’
Pacific, The Simpsons: Testify, and Al Kooper’s Rare
& Well Done: The Greatest
and the Most Obscure Recordings, released in 2001.