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Signature's place in the grand sweep of statistical history

Signature's place in the grand sweep of statistical history

guest post by Mike Sisk

Signature ends its reign as our first-ever champion to hold the trophy for three years; but they are first in other areas, too.

As Signature, the 2019 International Quartet Champion relinquishes the trophy to another worthy competitor, it’s worth noting that quartet’s place among BHS champions involves both its inclusion on some elite lists, as well adding its own first among the 81 past international champions.

A few firsts:

  • In 1939 the first International Quartet Champions were the Bartlesville Barflies.
  • in 1959 DECCA produced the first live contest recording of the top five medalist quartets
  • Mo Rector was the first to win multiple gold medals in the 1958 Gaynotes and 1969 Mark IV
  • The first multi-part medalist was Glenn Howard bari of the Capitol City Four 1939 2nd place silver, and bass on the 1941 5th place bronze medalists
  • The first multi-part gold medalist was Glen Van Tassel, lead of The Auto Towners (1966) and bari of Gentleman’s Agreement (1971).
  • Doug Miller became the first to sing in three different medalist quartets with the Sundowners 1966-67-68, Avante Garde 1969, and Soundtracks 1974.
  • Interstate Rivals (1987 are the first and only champ quartet to each become double golds:
    • Kipp Buckner, The Gas House Gang (1993)
    • Joe Connelly, Keepsake (1992)
    • Jay Hawkins, Marquis (1995)
    • Paul Gilman, Marquis (1995)
  • Joe Connelly was the first to win 3 gold medals — above, plus Platinum (2000), then first to win 4 gold medals, preceding plus Old School (2011).

Then there’s Brian Beck, the first and only to have sung all four parts each in a different top 10 quartet: tenor in Doo Dads (1968-70), bari in Dealers Choice (1973), lead in Side Street Ramblers (1981-3), and bass in Saturday Evening Post (2004), as well as the first to medal in 3 different quartets on 3 voice parts.

If firsts aren’t enough to lay down some history blueprints, how about significant trends that recur? Distinctly being international champ quartets who won their gold with three consecutive 2nd place rounds (not winning the quarter, semi, or finals) and came out on top with points. Those champs being the Gala Lads (1962), O.C. Times (2008), and Instant Classic (2015).

Then there’s what can be referred to as one of the most powerful as well as unrealized trends that has dominated six of the past eight decades of BHS history. It consists of those quartets to win three consecutive silver medals.

  • K.C. Barber Polecats, 1941-42-43
  • Town and Country Four, 1960-61-62
  • Pacificaires, 1972-73-74
  • Center Stage, 1982-83-84
  • Max Q, 2004-05-06
  • Musical Island Boys, 2011-12-13.
  • The Town and Country Four emerged the first to win gold following 3 consecutive silvers with Max Q and Musical Island Boys doing the same 44 and 51 years later.

THE THREAD BEGINS These barbershop historic firsts are impactful. Check out the path of your current champs Signature and how their journey is inclusive in a trio of groups before them.

The first step in becoming part of this thread was by making their move from the ranks of 17th place semi finalists in 2015 to 4th place bronze medalists in 2016. They became the Society’s 28th to have gone from a quarter or semi finalist ranking their previous year and then finish top five medals the next year. Here’s that elite group:


Quartet District Quarter --> semi Medalist rank
Doctors of Harmony CAR 1944-42nd 1945-5th
Lamplighters JAD 1944 45th 1945-4th
Westinghouse Quartet JAD 1946 31st 1947-5th
Mid States Four ILL 1946-23rd   1947-3rd
Cleff Dwellers PIO 1947-11th 1948-3rd
Four Chorders ONT 1949-18th 1950-2nd
Keystone Quads JAD 1950-19t 1951-2nd
SanDiego Serenaders FWD 1951-13th 1952-4th
Sing-Copates LOL 1952-19th 1953-3rd
Four Hearsemen SWD 1952-17th 1954-2nd
Orphans CSD 1952-30th 1954-1st
Lytle Brothers JAD 1953-11th 1954-4th
Confederates DIX 1954-31th 1955-2nd
Easternaires MAD 1955-12th 1956-5th
Playtonics MAD 1955-16th 1956-2nd
Evans Quartet FWD 1957-18th 1958-5th
Western Continentals FWD 1966-21st 1967-2nd
Regents MAD 1971-31st 1972-3rd
Rural Route Four CSD 1984-11th 1985-5th
Bank Street RMD 1987-21st 1988-4th
Acoustix (previously Class of the '80s SWD 1989-14th 1990-1st
Nightlife FWD 1992-11th 1993-4th
Four Voices DIX 2000-13th 2001-3rd
Ringmasters SNOBS 2008-17th 2009-4th
Lemon Squeezy SNOBS 2013-14th 2014-5th
Signature SUN 2015-15th 2016-4th

THE THREAD CONTINUES. With Signature winning two consecutive silver medals in 2017 & 2018, they entered into another elite historic group of the only 12 quartets to win two silver medals. Their next step of sewing the thread won them gold in 2019 and become one of another elite group being the only six double silver medalists to win gold. The following are the those double silver quartets. Signatures history making DID NOT stop here..

Quartet Silvers Gold
KC Serenaders/Lions Club 1946-47
Cleff Dwellers 1949-50
Four Rascals 1965-66
Sundowners 1970-71
139th St Quartet 1977-90
Second Edition 1987-88 1989
Yesteryear 1995-96 1997
Michigan Jake 1998-00 2001
Uptown Sound 2001-02
Old School 2009-10 2011
Forefront 2014-15 2016
Signature 2017-18 2019

At this point, SIGNATURE WAS NOT DONE SEWING THEIR THREAD into the cloth of some incredible history making. This was a path that went from semi finalist to medalist, becoming two time silvers in a group of six who went on to win the gold, and last but not least becoming the ninth quartet to join eight others before them who would make a part change the previous year to winning their gold. Signature has done this and set themselves apart by making two part changes the year before winning their gold. When their baritone left, tenor Will Rodriguez switched to baritone with Paul Saca (previously of Throwback) singing tenor. Signature’s changes are unprecedented.

Quartets to make a part change the year before winning gold!

  • The 1939 4th Place Flat Foot Four would change baritones from Granville Scanland to Red Elliot and then become 1940 international champs.
  • The 1942 6th place Four Harmonizers changed baritones from Ed Young to Huck Sinclair to become 1943 International Quartet Champs.
  • The 1949 6th place Buffalo Bills would change baritone Hershel Smith to Dick Grapes and go on to become 1950 International Quartet Champs.
  • The 1952 30th place Orphans would change baritones from Mr. Harris with Pete Tyree and go on to become 1954 Internatonal Champions.
  • The 1968 2nd place silver Mark IV would change bass C.O. Crawford with Mo Rector and go on to become 1969 International Quartet Champs.
  • The 1976 7th place Most Happy Fellows would change baritone Bob Jones to Jack Lyon and go on to become 1977 International Quartet Champs.
  • The 1986 2nd place silver Interstate Rivals would change baritone Geoff Mucha to Paul Gilman and go on to become 1987 International Quartet Champs.
  • The 1989 14th place Class Of the 80’s changed leads from Dan Bell to Rick Middaugh. They would also change their name to Acoustix and went on to become the 1990 International Quartet Champs.
  • The current 2019 International champions Signature actually made two part changes in one year. When their bari Matt stepped down from the group, tenor Will Rodriguez filled in at baritone and Paul Saca (previously of Throwback) took over at tenor.

I hope you enjoyed this labor of love in writing about these fantastic barbershop historics. My goal is to highlight the greatness of our performers and the many, many comparisions they uncover. There was a large amount of facts and data to consider in this article. Also consider this, it only scratches the surface of the massive amount of barbershop history available and also yet to be uncovered in the woodwork.

It’s been my honor to highlight our International Champions Signature as their journey has sewn them into The Thread of the Cloth!