The top 25 quartets have been chosen by a panel of judges and barbershop historians headed by Steve Armstrong, current Contest & Judging Chairman.
The number of quartets featured in the contest will be reduced to 20 based primarily on content availability, but all 25 groups are recognized here. They are listed alphabetically, including the year of the quartet’s best contest finish.
“Contest sets” will be digitized from the listed year whenever possible.
139th Street Quartet (1979)
Doug Anderson, Larry Wright, Pete Neushel, Jim Kline
A record 17 times in the Top 10 and ever a crowd favorite for their young, brash, hip style and songs. 139th went through four leads. The FWD quartet earned two silvers among their seven medals before finally retiring in 2018.
139th was the first BHS quartet to sing in Russia and is in the BHS Hall of Fame as primary creators of the Collegiate Quartet Contest.
B&O Connection (1979)
George Wagner, Diz Disney, Ted Tarr, Barry Brown
Representing the Mid-Atlantic District, the candle burned brightly but not long enough for this quartet. Lead Bob “Diz” Disney was the focal point of their unique style and sound. He also wrote and arranged for the quartet.
They placed 7th at their first International competition in 1978. In 1979, they jumped to 3rd place, behind only Grandma’s Boys and the Boston Common.
Bank Street (1989)
Tony Sparks, Richard Giese, Toby Balsley, Farris Collins
With a full-bodied sound anchored by the smooth, rich bass voice of Farris Collins, Bank Street was a fixture in 16 consecutive international competitions from 1985 to 2000.
Along the way, this Albuquerque, NM quartet earned six medals, including a 2nd-place finish in 1989.
Robert Seay V, Kevin King, Rick Taylor, Alan Mazzoni
After placing sixth in their first International Competition, the 1995 Mid-Atlantic District champion went on to earn medals in five straight contests, placing as high as third in 1998 and 2000.
They performed songs and arrangements that showed off their ability to ring chords at a high level. Lead Kevin King is the son of Fred King, baritone of the 1970 champions, the Oriole Four.
Center Stage (1984)
Wendell Pryor, Dennis Gore, Glenn Van Tassell, Lee Hanson
From the Pioneer District, this quartet formed in 1980 and won the district championship that same year. Their first International contest appearance was in 1981, held in their home state of Michigan.
They placed 4th to the delight of their home crowd! For the next three years in a row they would win silver medals.
Clef Dwellers (1950)
Dick Wisehart, Duncan Hannah, Bill Johnston, Hal Bauer
The “old” old-timers of the mid-40s to early ‘50s swear they shoulda had gold. The Detroit quartet was known for its big sound, on-stage persona, lead Dunc Hanna providing customized arrangements, and always winning the crowd. One contemporary called the C-Dwellers “the most copied quartet in Society history.”
In five trips into the top 10, they earned four medals, including two silvers.
Ed Ryan, Dan Heyburn, Dave Mittelstadt, Bob Bohn
With International appearances spanning three decades, the Easternaires garnered nine top-10 finishes and three medals, placing as high as 4th. They appeared in popular TV shows and replaced the Buffalo Bills in The Music Man on Broadway. Barbershoppers still revel in Bob Bohn’s innovative arrangements.
They are 2018 BHS Hall of Fame inductees.
Far Westerners (1972)
Doug Anderson, Jim Meehan, Earl Moon, Jay Wright
In the ‘60s and ‘70s, the joke was they had three tenors and a guy who sang real high. The entertaining Far Westerners embodied that bright, rich sound in eight top 10 finishes and three bronze medals.
They lived in the rhythm arrangements of bari/BHS icon Earl Moon and bass Jay Wright, who had a 1964 gold with the Sidewinders.
Four Chorders (1953)
Ken Mills, Wils Starling, Art Patterson, Ron Starling
About a decade before the Nighthawks, that same London, Ontario Chapter was home to this four-time medalist quartet. The Four Chorders got off to a slow start in 1953, and despite a spectacular finals round they came up just short with the silver.
They were known for the fine arrangements written by baritone Art Patterson and their flawless execution of bell chords, which he frequently featured.
Four Rascals (1966)
Don Dobson, Tom Spirito, James Vienneau, Richard Vienneau
Formed in 1959, they finished 21st in 1960 and were silver medalists in 1965. They were favorites to win in 1966 but had a bad first session and could not recover, finishing second again. They were known for easy beat songs like “You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby” (Renee Craig) and future classic ballads like “Little Pal” (Lou Perry).
Inspired the Boston Common, who sang several Rascal tunes.
Harrington Brothers (1985)
Doug, David, Jeff, & Mike Harrington
Won the Cardinal District championship in 1980 and finished 10th, 7th and 4th twice between ‘81 and ‘84. Their tight brotherly blend and young age opened the door for the youth movement. They remain the youngest-ever district champions, and received the first 100 ever given by a judge, in 1984.
Doug and David later won gold in Second Edition (1989).
Harry Klepsteen, Joe Warren, Ed Jensen, Bob Brock
This quartet won the Illinois District in 1962. The very next year, they placed 6th their first time out. In 1964, they received their first medal, 5th place, and followed that with a 3rd place medal in 1965.
One of their most popular sets was when they dressed as clowns and sang, “Let a Smile Be Your Umbrella.”
James Sabina, Bob Hartley, Mike McGee, Brian Philbin
Over their 12 International contest appearances, Metropolis distinguished themselves as a crowd favorite for their clever and hilarious presentations. They medaled five consecutive times between 2002 and 2006, including two 3rd-place finishes.
One of barbershop’s most sought-after show quartets, they also made several television and radio appearances.
Greg Backwell, Jim Turner, John Sutton, Bert Elli
A brilliant, treble-driven sound that drove audiences wild and drove Arrangement judges to distraction. The London, Ontario-based quartet earned four medals and seven top 10 finishes in the 1960s, including silver in 1963, with a captivating new Backwell chart virtually every year, including “Brother Can You Spare a Dime.”
Their “I was the kid with the DRUM!” is among the most iconic passages ever heard in contest.
Al Mau, Rudy Wissler, Fred Dregne, Bill Fritz
Hailing from California, this popular Far Western District quartet competed six times at the International competition, from 1969 to 1974. Former champion Al Mau (Western Continentals) joined the quartet in 1973.
With a bright, exciting sound, they are one of only a few quartets to win three silver medals in a row.
Eugene Loebs, Dave Mittelstadt, Vic Trabulsi, Ralph Brandt
From Teaneck, New Jersey, this great foursome won the Mid-Atlantic District contest in 1954. They made a quick climb into the top five with a huge jump from their 1955 16th place to the second place silver medals in 1956. They remained in the top 10 for the next four years.
During their history, they beat eight future champs.
Rick Taylor, Tim Reynolds, Richard Lewellen, Jeff Selano
Based in Atlanta, this quartet debuted at 22nd in 1998 and rapidly climbed the ranks to 6th two years later, followed by five consecutive years in the medals. They were known for a great ensemble sound and were one of the best at lock and ring in recent years.
They reached as high as third in 2004.
Roaring 20's (1980)
Don Gray, Gerry Kelly, Mike Connelly, Jim Gentil
The most appropriate ways to describe this Cincinnati comedy force probably would be “beloved” and “troupers.” For the 19 years the Roaring 20's competed at International, bari Ron Reigler’s bulky raccoon coat was their dominant fixture. They were the FRED of their day, always funny, 11 times in the top 10 and earning seven medals–topping at third in 1990.
Oh, yeah, they could sing, too
Gary Steinkamp, Fraser Brown, Russ Young, Joe D’Amore
This Phoenix, Arizona quartet got together in 1990 and won the Far Western District contest in 1992. They were a fixture in the top 10 for almost the entire decade, including four straight bronze medals from 1994-1997, placing as high as 3rd.
They were known for their professionalism, showmanship, and fondness for all things Disney.
State Line Grocery (2009)
Dylan Oxford, Tim Brooks, Drew McMillan, Mark Lamback
Hailing from Georgia and representing the Dixie District, State Line Grocery came onto the International Competition scene in 2005 placing 11th. By their fifth and final contest they earned four top ten and three top five finishes, including a 3rd-place medal.
They were especially known for their smooth lead, resonant bass, and innovative arrangements
Jack Hayes, Larry Wright, Greg Wright, Doug Smith
Between 1966 and 1971, the Sundowners earned six consecutive medals. They finished third, second, and second with Larry stationed at Fort Campbell, Ky. Army base, meeting to sing only at shows and contests. Young, fresh, and ahead of the quartet standard of the era, with a consistently smooth legato sound.
Their four-part harmony and remarkable blend often produced “five” parts
The Naturals (1990)
Bob Moorehead, Randy Chisholm, Mike Connelly, Jim Gentil
In the mid-1980s, three of the veteran performers who had made the Roaring 20's such a success over the years–Bob Moorehead, Mike Connelly and Jim Gentil–teamed with golden-voiced younger lead Randy Chisholm for a quartet that burst on the scene to claim five top 10 finishes and 4 medals, including a third-place bronze.
Randy went on to win gold with Marquis in 1995.
Uptown Sound (2001)
Jeff Archer, Dave Calland, Steven Kovach, Jr, Steve Denino
This quartet burst onto the scene in 1996, winning the Johnny Appleseed District and placing in the top 20 in their first International competition. Before they were done, they would win four medals, finishing as high as 2nd in 2001 and 2002.
They are most remembered for their beautiful ballads like “It’s Impossible” and “The Nearness of You.”
Ken Gibson, Dennis Gore, Clay Shumard, Norman Thompson
They won the Pioneer District in 1969 and placed 17th in their first International competition in 1971. They switched to Clay Shumard on baritone in 1975 and finished in the medals three times, placing as high as second in 1976.
They were known for their smooth, lyrical lead, Denny Gore, and had an ensemble sound well ahead of their time.
John Casey, Scott Werner, John Hohl, Bill Cody
Formed in 1980, this quartet placed ninth at the International convention in 1981. Later that year, they won the Mid-Atlantic District contest. For the next five years, they would come away with medals, including four straight top three finishes.
Their repertoire was largely made up of traditional barbershop, which they executed consistently well.