Monday, November 8, 2010

R.I.P. Calvin Williams of the Golden Gate Quartet, Deep Tones.

Sad news from Bob Marovich via Dr. Charles and Pamela Horner of Classic Urban Harmony, LLC.

In a year filled with bad news, we are extremely saddened to report the passing of our close friend Calvin Williams. Calvin was born in Bucksport, SC, on November 8, 1921. Calvin began singing Gospel music and at the age of 15 joined with a local quartet called the Southern Four Gospel Singers. During World war II Calvin worked at the Wilmington, NC, shipyards where he sang with National Four. After the war, Calvin moved to Trenton, NJ. By 1947 Calvin formed a new group called the Deep Tones. The Deep Tones recorded three fabulous spiritual records, done in the style of the Golden Gate Quartet. Two records were released on the King Solomon label (later on Savoy) and one on Muzicon.

The Deep Tones turned to secular music in 1951, recording "Just In Case You Change Your Mind" and "The Night We Said Goodbye" for the Coral label. The Deep Tones also did uncredited backup for Ella Fitzgerald ("Trying"), "Slim Galliard ("Oh Lady Be Good") and Bill Kenny.

Changing their name to the Hi Lighters, the group recorded for the Celeste and their own HiCo label. (Click HiCo to read the Horners' story of the HiCo label). Calvin sang with the Four Knights before joining the Stereos who recorded on the Robins Nest label during the 1960's.

In 1972, Calvin Williams was asked to join the world famous Golden Gate Quartet, now based in Europe. He spent the next 14 years with the Gates, touring numerous countries. Upon leaving the Golden Gate Quartet, Calvin returned to the United States where he joined Johnny Smith's Ink Spots. The group made one album (CD).

Calvin spent the final years of his life living in Far Rockaway, NY. Calvin was a guest at our wedding and our guest at UGHA on several occasions. We interviewed Calvin on Frank Gengaro and Gordon Skadberg's weekly radio program on WRHU-FM in 2008. Calvin Williams made a huge contribution to group harmony, but most of all he was a friend to us. Our grief is beyond words.

Photo courtesy of Dr. Charles and Pamela Horner of Classic Urban Harmony, LLC

It seems the roll of the legends is being called with haste. This year alone, we've reported the losses of Albertina Walker, Little Lucy Smith, Bishop Walter Hawkins, Major Roberson, and Geraldine Gay Hambric, and now, Calvin Williams. -Ed.

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