Bay State Harmony : The G-Clefs ©2001JCMarion


The G-Clefs vocal group was a product of Massachusetts in 1955, Roxbury to be exact. The quintet consisted of the four Scott brothers - Teddy, Timmy, Chris, and Arnold, as well as friend Ray Gibson. Originally formed with an eye and ear toward gospel music, the boys saw that the R & B music of the day was a way to become popular especially with the ladies. As they got their musical act together and learned how to hit the harmony they were soon put in contact with Jack Gold who was an A & R man in the region for a Boston based record label run by Cecil Steen called Pilgrim Records. Before long the G-Clefs worked out a fast paced jump tune that seemed to hold promise called "Ka-Ding Dong". It became the 'A' side of the group's first record on Pilgrim #715. As legend has it, the galloping guitar on the song was played by a teenager from the greater Boston area named Fred Picariello who would find rock 'n roll riches under the name Freddie "Boom Boom" Cannon in a couple of years. The flip side was one of the many "girl's name" tunes so common in the fifties called "Darla My Darling". The record hit the radio airwaves and the record stores in early July of 1956 The up tempo side was the choice of listeners and broke big immediately in the Northeast during all of August. By September it had begun to sell in big numbers in the Midwest especially in Kansas City and St. Louis where it was a top five selling record. Sales of the record resulted in the usual number of tepid pop music covers. The popularity moved the G-Clefs into the top lines of the vocal groups doing personal appearances in the region and ended talk of confusion over their name ( too close to Gee Records and The Cleftones for some). Riding a four month crest for the record, the G-Clefs readied their followup side for Pilgrim in early November. The songs were another fast paced rocker "Cause You're Mine" and the ballad side "Please Write While I'm Away" and the release was Pilgrim #720 (which had moved its headquarters to New York). Once again the rockin' up tempo tune started to sell immediately and the G-Clefs were back on the best seller charts. Soon after the November release of the new record Jack Gold left Pilgrim Records and decided to start his own record company. He brought the G-Clefs (who were under a personal contract with Gold) along with him to his new enterprise which he named Paris Records located in New York.


With "Cause You're Mine" the second solid seller for the group, Gold had the group ready their first record for the new label in March of 1957. "Love Her In The Morning" was the up side and a dramatic ballad was the flip. It was called "Symbol Of Love" and released on Paris #502. This time listeners went for the ballad side of the record and "Symbol Of Love" continued the success of the Massachusetts five. "Symbol" was a very unique treatment of a ballad for an R & B group. It featured a framing device of a dramatic spoken reading of the name of the song followed by a smooth shuffle rhythm instead of the usual hard edged triplets. The song was an atmospheric and dramatic mood piece of the story of teenage love in the fifties. The G-Clefs now were appearing on stage with Alan Freed at the New York Paramount and did not disappoint. The group had really learned to put over this song on stage with their choreographed maneuvers integrated with the lyrics for a great visual presentation, one of the best of any vocal group I have ever seen. By spring the G-Clefs gave some tunes the once over before deciding on their next record. "Is This The Way ?" was to be the ballad side and for the jump side a nonsense syllable rocker called "Zing Zang Zoo" was the choice for Paris #506. This time after initial airplay and some sales, the record went flat and by mid summer the single was missing in action. After the summer when the group had fulfilled its in person dates there was serious discussion among the brothers about whether they wanted to continue the grind of the road and the pressures to come up with a top seller all the time. A couple of the guys wanted to further their education and one wanted to try the non performing part of the music business. There were no forthcoming records by the group, and even though George Goldner announced that he had signed The G-Clefs to his Gone label in April of 1958, nothing more was heard of that supposed partnership.


It is now three years later and jack Gold is still at it this time with another label in New York called Terrace Records. He calls around and gets the G-Clefs together once again and they agree to give their group harmony a shot. The result is the first release for the company on Terrace #7500 in September of 1961. The group does a version of a song that was a huge hit for The Four Tunes in 1954 called "I Understand (Just How You Feel)" a lovely ballad reworking of "Auld lang Syne". The flip side is "Little Girl I Love You" but that is never a factor as the ballad takes off immediately. "I Understand" creates a huge stir as the record sells in all areas and becomes a pop smash. By November it is into the top ten best seller lists of popular music in the U.S. and is easily the biggest record ever for the group. Jack Gold looks like a genius for bringing the G-Clefs back after a three year hiatus and scoring such a big seller on his new label.
Unfortunately, that was the high point for the group and the Terrace label. The vocal group sound was just about to fade away behind all the new movements in music that would take place in the early sixties. The G-Clefs kept at it for another few years, with four more tries for Terrace : #7503 - "A Girl Has To Know"; #7507 - "Make Up Your Mind"; #7510 - "A Lover's Prayer" / "Sitting In The Moonlight"; and #7514 - "All My Trials" / "The Big Rain". There were also sides for small labels such as Regina, Veep, and Loma, until the G-Clefs called it quits in 1966. And so ended a decade of vocal group harmony by the Bay State boys.
The G-Clefs will be remembered for their four hit records spanning the mid fifties until the early sixties-two rapid rockers and two wonderful ballad songs. The music the group put together is part of that memorable sound track of what the world was like when it first discovered rock 'n roll music. The G-Clefs were a part of that musical mosaic that we will remember always.

to next page . . . . . . . .
to title page . . . . . . . . .