vocalist from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who idolized The Four Freshmen, The
Mel-Tones and The Modernaires, and used them as inspiration
for the singing ensembles he put together while still attending high
were one of those groups and they, in a roundabout way, morphed into The
Hi-Lo’s. Bob Strasen, a baritone, was in both groups. Gene added Clark Burroughs and Bob
Morse, and the Hi-Lo’s were born.
In 1956, they
landed a steady gig on Rosemary Clooney’s television program. It would not be their last foray
into TV. They also appeared on
Steve Allen’s and Nat King Cole’s programs and Frank
Sinatra’s TV specials.
In the 1960s,
they joined Sinatra’s Reprise Records, shifting their focus from pop
to bossa nova and folk, trying to keep up with
however, passed The Hi-Lo’s by, and they disbanded in 1964, a
casualty of the rock-and-roll era.
Gene moved to Chicago, Illinois, which was rich with commercial work, and
it was here he met Len Dresslar and Bonnie Herman, planting the seeds for
The Singers Unlimited. One
short of a quartet, Gene drafted latter-day Hi-Lo Don Shelton into the
group. They were intended to be
a commercial-jingle group, but success found them when their rendition of
“The Fool on the Hill” captured the imagination of Oscar
Peterson. He helped get them
signed to the German label, MPS, and collaborated with them on their first
album, 1971’s In Tune. They went on to release fourteen
albums in the next nine years.
In 1982, Gene
won a Grammy for a vocal arrangement of “A Nightingale Sang in
Berkeley Square”, recorded by The Manhattan Transfer. Other artists for whom he arranged
include Chanticleer, Don Comstock and Linda Ronstadt.
away on 25th March 2008 of difficulties due to diabetes. Fortunately for budding arrangers,
many of his vocal arrangements are available in sheet-music form. A couple of links are listed
The Oscar Peterson Trio and The Singers
Sesame Street (Bruce Hart/Joe Raposo/Jon
The Singers Unlimited recordings
Michelle (John Lennon/Paul McCartney)