The Ink Spots

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The Ink Spots were an American Pop music vocal group that helped define the musical genre that led to rhythm & blues, rock and roll, and even, eventually, to the subgenre called doo-wop. They, along with the Mills Brothers, were the black vocal group of the 1940s that gained the most acceptance in the white community. They formed in Indianapolis in the early 1930s with members Jerry Daniels (a tenor who was replaced by the most famous member, Bill Kenny, in early 1936), baritone Charlie Fuqua, second tenor Ivory "Deek" Watson, and bass Orville "Hoppy" Jones.

After a series of unsuccessful recordings for Victor Records and Decca Records, they had their first smash hit with "If I Didn't Care", on Decca, in 1939. In the 1940s, the Ink Spots released such other Decca singles as "When The Swallows Come Back To Capistrano" (1940), "Whispering Grass" (1940), "Do I Worry" (1940), "Java Jive" (1940), "Shout, Brother, Shout" (1942), "Cow-Cow Boogie" (1944 - with Ella Fitzgerald), "I'm Making Believe" (1944 - with Ella Fitzgerald) and "The Gypsy" (1946 - their biggest hit).

Hoppy Jones, whose personality held the group together, 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, as did Charlie Fuqua. In fact, there was an almost-bewildering succession of group members and offshoot groups over the next 60 years. Bill Kenny, on the other hand, opted for a solo career in 1954.

Other legitimate members of the Decca group included Bernie Mackie, 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, 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.

The Ink Spots are known in certain gaming circles for their song "Maybe", which was used as the opening and closing music of the game Fallout. The song fit well with the underlying themes of the game, as well as echoing the feelings the player character feels after the ending.

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.

Samples

  • Download sample of "If I Didnít Care", the first major hit for The Ink Spots, who were the first major Black Pop Music group

Cultural use

"If I Didn't Care" appears on the Blade Runner and The Shawshank Redemption soundtracks. The song is often sung (very poorly) by Fred G. Sanford on the 70's television show "Sanford & Son."

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