The Ink Spots were a vocal group in the 1930s and 1940s that helped define the musical genre that led to rhythm and blues and rock and roll, and the subgenre doo-wop. They gained much acceptance in both the white community and black community largely due to the ballad style introduced to the group by lead singer Bill Kenny. They were inducted into the Rock & Roll hall of fame in 1999.
Their songs usually began with a guitar riff, followed by the tenor Bill Kenny, who sang the whole song through. After Kenny finished singing, the bass would either recite the first half, or the bridge of the song, or would speak the words, almost in a free form, that were not part of the song, commonly using the words “Honey Child”, or “Honey Babe”, expressing his love for his darling in the song. This was followed by Kenny, who finished up singing the last refrain or the last half of the song. On some songs Deek Watson would sing the lead rather than Bill Kenny. This was mostly on the uptempo “Jive” songs.
The Ink Spots formed in the early 1930s in Indianapolis. The founding members were :-
Orville “Hoppy” Jones (b. 17 February 1902, Chicago, Illinois – d. 18 October 1944, New York City) (bass) (Played cello in the manner of a stand up bass)
Ivory “Deek” Watson (b. 18 July 1909, Mounds, Illinois – d. 4 November 1969, Washington, D.C.) (tenor) (Played guitar and trumpet)
Jerry Daniels (b. 14 December 1915 – d. 7 November 1995, Indianapolis, Indiana) (tenor) (Played guitar and ukulele)
Charlie Fuqua (b. 20 October 1910 – d. 21 December 1971, New Haven, Connecticut)
(baritone) (Played guitar)
*** BILL KENNY ***
The voice that made them famous Bill Kenny (Mr. Ink Spot) was born June 12th 1914 in Philadelphia PA, and died Mar 23rd 1978 in New West Minister, British Columbia. When Bill Kenny joined the group in 1936 they were mostly a “Jive” ensemble, performing swinging uptempo songs. It wasn’t until The Ink Spots 1939 recording of “If I Didn’t Care” that Bill Kenny’s voice began being regularly featured on Ballads, which it was until The Ink Spots disbanded in 1954. Hits that feature Bill Kenny include “I Don’t Want To Set The World On Fire”, “We Three”, “The Gypsy”, “Address Unknown”, “With My Eyes Wide Open I’m Dreaming”, “So Sorry”, “Bless You”, “My Prayer”, “Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall”, “It’s A Sin To Tell A Lie”, It Isn’t A Dream Anymore”, and dozens of others. Bill Kenny has been listed as an influence by such great artists as Elvis Presley, Sam Cooke, Johnny Mathis, Sonny Till, Clyde McPhatter and many others. Bill Kenny is often noted as the father of Doo Wop for his high tenor singing and his introduction of the popular “Top & Bottom” format used by virtually every Doo Wop group in the 50’s and 60’s.
Since Bill Kenny broke up The Ink Spots in 1954 there have been well over 500 black vocal Quartets calling themselves The Ink Spots none of which have or had any original members. There are even groups still touring as The Ink Spots today. It is largely accepted that if the group didn’t contain Bill Kenny then the group was/ is a fake.
Edited by AustinJoeCasey on 8 Feb 2013, 12:08
Sources (view history)
-“More Than Words Can Say” Goldberg, Marv. Scarecrow Press 1998
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