The Suntones
1961 International Quartet Champion

At the Labor Day Jamboree this past weekend, I had one of, if not the barbershop highlight of my entire life.  As many of you know, Harlan W. and Gene C. (Suntones), both celebrated a birthday last week.  The good folks in the Sunshine District had a special party Sunday afternoon at the Innisbrook resort.  After tons of singing and fellowship, (as well as cake etc.) we had the pleasure of witnessing one of the most moving performances I have ever experienced.  (And yes, it was an experience, not just a performance).  The amazing Todd Wilson (Acoustix) stepped in on bass and Bob Franklin joined the birthday boys and gave us all a gift that I am sure none in the room will ever forget.  I cannot describe in words the feelings that ran through me as these heroes of mine began to take us on a trip through the history of (in my opinion) the greatest quartet ever assembled. They opened with Bye, Bye, Blues, and I could just see in their faces the memory of closing their gold medal year with that song.  They continued with such classics as Emaline, After You've Gone (love that one!) Finnian's Rainbow Medley, and probably seven or eight others.  There wasn't a dry eye in the room as Bob and company just poured themselves into the music, telling story after story. Their voices are just as amazing now as they were almost 40 years ago. Spectacular! All I could do was just sit in the moment and try and take it all in.  I laughed, I cried, I was just purely amazed at these gracious men who had given of themselves for so many years to pave the way and inspire kids like me and thousands more in this most wonderful of hobbies.  At the close of their final song, the room leapt up as the foursome spontaneously embraced and we just cheered and clapped and cried together.  I just wanted to take a moment to say "thank you" to these guys, who I admire and respect, for 40 years of magical memories. I will never forget it. - Chad Guyton, Four Voices


It felt like a homecoming to me and has been sort of a lifetime dream of mine to have the SUNTONES on a New London Show. Whenever I talk to somebody about Barbershop, I talk about the SUNTONES as the prime example. A lot of our newer members and much of our audience has never seen or heard a quartet of your caliber. Everyone here had nothing but high praises for your performances both at the show and the afterglow. You have recreated the sound of the original SUNTONES. It's amazing how Todd has blended into the quartet. He maintains the proper balance without overpowering the quartet, which I'm sure he could easily do! That takes a lot of talent! When I closed my eyes, I felt like I was back again 40 years ago. I got a lot of goose bumps. Also incredible is how you originals have maintained and now honed your voices to such a high level to be able to sing such a demanding repertoire. We also got the review of the Show from Vin Zito who critiques shows for the NED Standing Ovations Program. He had high praises for your performances on the Show and at the Afterglow. He was amazed that you could sing approximately 20 songs with such quality. I'll second that! He pointed out in his preface that he was on the judging panel in Philadelphia when you won by about 300 points. I have been listening to the CD that I bought at the Show and have to say you sounded as good or better on the show. Voices more mature, to be sure, but also more disciplined - nice easy listening. You are all real pros. Please keep on singing and give others a chance to be thrilled by the SUNTONES – Doug Cassie 


Hello to my all time favorite quartet.  What a thrill to see and hear you guys back on stage together; one of the most emotional experiences in my Barbershopping career.  So proud of Todd, that he made it through without the emotion getting to him too badly.  I know it was one of your greatest thrills Todd. Thought you all sang at an incredibly high level, and got stronger every time you sang.   You blew all of the other quartets off the stage. You brought back so many wonderful memories. You will never know how many people you influenced, and how many you gave hours of unbelievable joy to by listening to you out in the audience. Great bit with the stools. One thing that is a little bit unfair.  Ever since the "Suntones," every other Champion is judged against the Tones, and none compares. Love you guys, and thanks for the memories, and keep singing. - Joe Lamy


I can honestly say that the reason I am a member of the Society today is because I heard the Suntones in a concert in Poughkeepsie, New York 25-30 years ago. After college, where I did a lot of singing, there was the Army and then a new job with IBM. Along came kids with baseball games, hockey games, soccer games, building an ice rink, forming a hockey league, coaching baseball, etc. etc. The point is my life was too busy and involved for singing, but the old desire was there just under the surface. Jan and I went to a concert by the Poughkeepsie, New Yorkers and the guest quartet was The Suntones. Jan, saw my enjoyment, and when the New Yorkers invited men in the audience to visit their next rehearsal, she leaned over and said "You have loved singing your whole life, maybe now you have time to do something for yourself." That was all the encouragement I needed, and I have been singing barbershop ever since. We had a pretty good quartet in Poughkeepsie called the Hudson Heritage. I was Chapter Development VP there for a couple of years, and brought a quartet with dual membership into the organization. The lead in that quartet was Hal Purdy, who lived in the Catskill Mountains across the Hudson River from Poughkeepsie. I still keep in touch with my friends in Poughkeepsie through the internet. You know my recent history with the Virginians. I can trace all of these wonderful barbershop memories back to that concert in little old Poughkeepsie, New York with that marvelous guest quartet the Suntones. - Shel Molter


Wow!  Saturday night, from beginning to its late end, was in-credible. It not only felt great, but everyone I met after the show was glowing too: strangers and friends and family. - Dennis Bley


THANK YOU!!!!!! The kudos keep rolling in. Thanks to each of you the Fairfax Jubil-Aires' 50th anniversary celebration was a major success. The Suntones touched the hearts and memories of so many people with your outstanding performance.  People could not believe how good you guys sounded.  It was truly and amazing weekend with rekindled musical sensations from yesteryear brought to life.  OUTSTANDING!!! – Mike Stoll


Gentlemen:  Just a quick note to tell you how much I enjoyed your performance this weekend. Great job....great show!  Thanks for making it one of the best barbershop events I've ever attended! - Jeff Salino


Last Saturday night, I heard (and sang with) The SUNTONES at the Fairfax Jubil-aires 50th Anniversary Show and afterglow.  Since then I have hardly stopped thinking about their performance and their influence. From a table in the lobby, I was compelled to add to my collection of recordings their latest, a CD containing a nearly lost live performance from 1972.  I have listened to it several times and been impressed not only by how high they sang at that time but by their amazing professionalism and audience appeal.  They won the championship in 1961 and by that time had six albums for sale in the lobby (they plugged them from the stage like we all do) and promised to soon have a seventh.  I must have at least eight of their LP albums on the shelf at home plus another several CD compilations. The first time I heard The Suntones was on the Richmond VA show in the late 1970s. With their innovative four hand-held microphones, they appeared silhouetted against the back lighted risers with their backs to the audience and began "The sound around the sound of music.......", the beginning of their Sound Of Music Medley.  I got a chill then and still do now when I reflect on it. But there is more to it than that.  What is it about The Suntones that would make me awake from a sound sleep and come to the computer at 5am this morning compelled to write about them?  While I showered I collected my thoughts. Like many of you, I am an avid barbershopper.  Like all barbershoppers, I have my favorite quartets (Bluegrass Student Union, Boston Common, Gas House Gang, Nightlife, and.....The Suntones).  This is why I am writing.  Simply stated, no single quartet has had a greater influence on the music I have sung over the past quarter century.  In closing, all I can think to say is, thank you to The SUNTONES for a legacy of harmony that has and will continue to influence barbershopping for generations to come.  - Bob Caldwell

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