Southern Gospel Perspective

My thoughts and opinions about Southern Gospel Music, both past and present. Feel free to comment and criticize...

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This Groups Best ... The Kingsmen

Today's group is The Kingsmen. A couple of these are fairly obvious (this will be the case for several groups), but the rest might be interesting.

Bass: Who else could it be, besides Ray Dean Reese? This long-time Kingsmen bass singer is beloved for his singing and for his wonderful demeanor on and off the stage. He might not be the best bass singer in SG history, but he has been very good for the Kingsmen and is really a huge part of their sound and history.

Piano: This one might seem tougher than bass, but really it's not. Anthony Burger might not be remembered by today's "Gaither Gospel Fans" for his time with The Kingsmen, but this was his beginning and really his prime. Anthony is (and rightfully so) a household name for SG fans and The Kingsmen are the reason.

Baritone: The Kingsmen have had some exceptionally talented baritone singers down through the years. Some that stand out are Parker Jonathan, Tony Peace, Squire Parsons and Mark Trammell. The best was Ed Crawford. Big Ed was and is an extremely talented and under-rated singer.

Lead: Well, duh. Without Jim Hamill, what would the Kingsmen have been? I can't tell you exactly, but I can say for certain they would not have been as popular or as exciting. Jim was known for his showmanship, and rightfully so. However, Jim could take a song and sing it like no one else in the business. Jim's showmanship and hard driving of himself and the group has overshadowed his singing ability, but believe me he could "tote the mail".

Tenor: Another category that is not so easily decided for this group. They've had some good ones. Perhaps they were pushed too hard at times and maybe didn't always come across as polished as some, but there were many good singers at this position. Some of the best being Jerry Martin, Johnny Parrack (Jay's dad to some of you newbies), Ernie Phillips (Eric's dad to some of you newbies), Jerry Redd, and Derrick Boyd. I think the choice has to be Ernie Phillips. His sound with The Kingsmen during the late 70's / early 80's was what could really be defined as the Kingsmen "sound". Ernie just sounded like The Kingsmen, if you know what I mean. His ending on "Love Lifted Me" from "Live Naturally" is classic Kingsmen and one of the most talked about moments in SG history.

Instrumentalist: I won't do this for every group (because it wouldn't always apply), but with The Kingsmen you can't really define their overall sound without pointing out their "band". The band member that really jumps out to me is Gary Dillard. He was multi-faceted, multi-talented and had a GREAT nickname. "Beaver" seemed like he could do it all.

So, here they are:

Piano: Anthony Burger
Bass: Ray Reese
Baritone: Ed Crawford
Lead: "Big" Jim Hamill
Tenor: "Little" Ernie Phillips
Instrumentalist: Gary "Beaver" Dillard

Who would you have chosen differently?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe that you are correct. This is the first Kingsmen lineup that I knew.
While my all-time favorite is Arthur Rice, the combination of those listed was, to me, the best.

7:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is the definitive line-up of the classic Kingsmen...couldn't agree more!

3:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would like to have seen Gary Sheppard listed in the tenor section -

12:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My favorite Kingsmen Group...

Gary Sheppard
Arthur Rice
“Big” Jim Hamill
Ray Dean Reese
Anthony Burger

And of course Grady Nutt with some comic relief!

2:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Baritone - Parker Jonathan
I agree with the rest!

8:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The best of the Kingsmen:
Piano: Anthony Berger
Tenor: Little Ernie
Lead: Big Jim
Bass: Ray Dean
Baritone: Squire Parsons and Big Ed

9:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The best Kingsmen group:
Lead Big Jim
Tenor Ernie Phillips and Johnny Parrack
Baritone Squire Parsons and Big Ed
Bass Ray Dean
Musician Anthony Burger and Nick Bruno

1:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've always have been curious as to why Ernie Philips left the band? I nevr thought the group was the same after him in my mind he is the greatest tenor ever

8:50 PM  

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