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    The Jordanaires

    Vocal group co-formed by a pair of evangelical brothers, Bill and Monty Matthews, in 1948.  Bill was the first tenor and Monty was the baritone.  They drafted Bob Hubbard to be their lead singer and second tenor and added Culley Holt as their bass singer and Bob Money as their pianist.  In 1949, they moved to Nashville, Tennessee, and wound up on The Grand Ole Opry, singing back-up for Red Foley. 

     

    You need a scorecard to keep track of all of the roster moves The Jordanaires made in their formative years.  Late in 1949, Bob Money got a call from Uncle Sam and was replaced in December by Gordon Stoker.  Gordon was a double threat who not only played the keys but sang lead tenor.  In 1951, Bill Matthews quit the band and Gordon supplanted him at first tenor.  Also, The Jordanaires inked a deal with Capitol Records.  In 1952, Bob Hubbard was conscripted and Monty Matthews left the group voluntarily.  That left a couple of holes in the group that were filled by Don Bruce, a first tenor, and Hoyt Hawkins, a baritone.  The double switch meant that Gordon would be moved to second tenor, but The Jordanaires could not stay out of the Army.  In March 1953, Don was called up, and he was replaced by Neil Matthews, Jr., who was not related to the Matthews brothers who had started and left the group. 

     

    Neil turned out to be a key player in the group.  He did all of their vocal arrangements and created The Nashville Numbering System, which assigns numbers to chords, making life easier for studio players.  For a brief time, they had to change their name to The Foggy River Boys because Bill and Monty Matthews still owned the rights to the name, The Jordanaires.  The new quartet coughed up the cash and The Jordanaires’ legacy continued.  In December 1954, Culley left the group and Hugh Jarrett became their new bass singer. 

     

    In 1955, they worked with Eddy Arnold on his TV show, Eddy Arnold Time, and did a show in Memphis, Tennessee, in order to promote the program.  In the audience was a young Elvis Presley.  Elvis was not well-known at the time, and was still recording for Sun Records.  He introduced himself to the group and told them if he ever made it big, he wanted them to be his backing singers.  Sure, they thought.  They had heard that one before. 

     

    Elvis was signed by RCA Victor and Chet Atkins asked Gordon to do the backing vocals on “I’m Counting on You” and “I Was the One”, along with The Speer Family.  His services were used again, along with Ben and Brock Speer, on “I Want You, I Need You, I Love You”, which was recorded in April 1956.  Elvis pulled Gordon to one side after the session was over and said he wanted The Jordanaires to be his permanent backup singers.  This they would become, appearing on the better part of his records for fourteen years.  Elvis even insisted they be billed on the record labels themselves, a generous and unusual move in an industry that rarely gave kudos to background musicians of any kind.  It turned out to be a shrewd move because The Jordanaires were already well-known, and Elvis was about to be. 

     

    In 1958, Hugh Jarrett left his post at bass and was supplanted by Ray Walker.  It was this incarnation of the group that most people will remember as “The Jordanaires”:  Hoyt Hawkins (Baritone); Neil Matthews, Jr. (Lead/Second Tenor); Gordon Stoker (First Tenor/Pianist); and, Ray Walker (Bass).  This group would stay together for almost twenty-five years.  They did not work exclusively for Elvis.  So sought after were they that it was not unusual for them to do four recording sessions per day, six days a week. 

     

    In 1969, Elvis decided to take his show on the road to Las Vegas, but The Jordanaires were doing so well on the Nashville studio scene, they decided to stay there.  It was another smart move by a group that could seemingly do no wrong.  They continued to record with Elvis through 1970 and also backed Patsy Cline, Ricky Nelson, Marty Robbins, and Jim Reeves. 

     

    In the 1970s, they added another part-time, temporary baritone to their line-up in Duane West.  The National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences bestowed on them their Superpickers award in 1976 and 1979.  This was in recognition of their accomplishment of singing on more top-ten recordings than any other group of their ilk.  In between, they accompanied Johnny Cash on his 1978 LP, I Would Like to See You Again. 

     

    On 23rd October 1982, Hoyt Hawkins shuffled off his mortal coil and was replaced by Duane West.  This version of the group would last almost two decades.  The Country Music Association gave them their CMA Masters Award, essentially a lifetime achievement award, in November 1984.  In 1996, they appeared on the Ween CD, 12 Golden Country Greats.  They even appeared on stage, off-Broadway, in the 1997 musical, Violet. 

     

    Then the awards really began to rain down on them.  They were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, the North America Country Music Associations International Hall of Fame, and the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. 

     

    Duane got sick in 1999 and was replaced by Louis Nunley at baritone.  Almost a year later, Neil Matthews, Jr. died.  He was supplanted by Curtis Young.  This group continues to perform.  To summarize, this is their current line-up:  Louis Nunley (Baritone); Gordon Stoker (First Tenor/Pianist); Ray Walker (Bass); and, Curtis Young (Lead/Second Tenor). 

     

    In 2002, they won a Grammy for Best Southern, Country, or Bluegrass Album, for their efforts on the Larry Ford & The Light Crust Doughboys’ We Called Him Mr. Gospel Music:  The James Blackwood Tribute Album.  They were inducted into The Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2004. 

     

    In the late 2000s, they appeared on several albums, including Friends of Henry Golis Wish You a Merry Christmas with The Jordanaires, Henry Golis Presents Good Music with Friends Featuring The Jordanaires, The Road Less Traveled by C.B.O.P., and Save Your Dreams by Shark.  They were inducted into the Christian Music Hall of Fame and the Southern Legends Entertainment & Performing Arts Hall of Fame in 2007.  On 16th May 2009, they did a show with Millie Kirkham & D.J. in Russellville, Alabama, entitled “The Elvis Story”. 

     

    They are reputed to have appeared with over 2,200 artists on more than 30,000 recordings. 

     

    Members:

    Culley Holt (Bass) 1948-1954

    Bob Hubbard (Lead/Second Tenor) 1948-1952

    Bill Matthews (First Tenor) 1948-1951

    Monty Matthews (Baritone) 1948-1952      

    Bob Money (Pianist) 1948-1949/1952

    Gordon Stoker (Lead/First Tenor/Pianist/Second Tenor) 1950-Present

    Don Bruce (First Tenor) 1952-1953

    Hoyt Hawkins (Baritone) 1952-1982

    Neal Matthews, Jr. (Lead/Second Tenor) 1953-2000

    Hugh Jarrett (Bass) 1954-1958

    Ray Walker (Bass) 1958-Present

    Duane West (Baritone) 1982-1999

    Louis Nunley (Baritone) 1999-Present

    Curtis Young (Lead/Second Tenor) 2000-Present

     

    Sources:

    1. http://www.jordanaires.net/
    2. http://www.jordanaires.net/about/us.htm
    3. http://www.jordanaires.net/History/complete.htm
    4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Jordanaires
    5. http://www.jordanaires.net/recent/performances.htm
    6. http://www.rockabillyhall.com/Jordanaires.html
    7. http://www.countrymusichalloffame.com/site/inductees.aspx?cid=134#

            

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     



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