Not every musical act can claim The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson as a fan. For The Four Freshmen, though, such accolades have been par for the group’s 65-year course.
Founded in 1948 when four freshmen attending Butler University in Indianapolis came together and crafted a style of vocal harmony that eventually caught the attention of bandleader Stan Kenton, the group has recorded 75 albums and 70 top selling singles in its long career.
Despite a changing roster over the years, the original group’s sound has been painstakingly maintained.
At 7 p.m. Saturday, The Four Freshmen will bring their storied harmonic sound to the McPherson Opera House.
The group’s bass vocalist and percussionist Bob Ferreira, who’s been a member for 21 years, said the group’s longevity was unique in music.
“It’s like a sports organization,” Ferreira said. “The organization may change over the years, but The Four Freshmen is an institution with a legacy. We strive to keep that sound and legacy alive.”
Initially founded in the barbershop quartet style, the group’s sound evolved, ultimately becoming a jazzy bridge between that style and the harmony-based rock ‘n’ roll of the late ’50s through the ’60s.
Ferreira said the group’s vocal sound was — and remains — what has kept it unique through the long years.
“Initially, the trombone section of the Stan Kenton Band was the inspiration for the sound,” Ferreira said. “The vocal sound was approached less like voices, and more as instrument chords. Rather than one voice on top with support, The Four Freshman create a vocal chord and let that chord sit there and ring. That’s the trademark of the Freshman sound. Even though it’s a four part harmony, everything works in a cohesive manner. To this day this is a very unique sound that you won’t hear in other groups.”
Despite its 65-year history, the group has, in no way, slowed down its output or performances, playing more than 100 shows a year and releasing no less than 12 albums in the last decade alone.
“We release everything ourselves now,” Ferreira said. “We can produce recordings on our own that meet our level of satisfaction.”
Ferreira said that, after 21 years in the group, he still loves it.
“I love to be able to travel and perform,” Ferreira said. “We have a great fan club, The Four Freshman Society, and they love what we do as much as we do. We’re still making new albums, and it’s thrilling that fans and listeners embrace them as much as the material from the original group’s Capital Records years.”
Page 2 of 2 - Ferreira said he was looking forward to performing in the McPherson Opera House.
“I love old, restored theaters and opera houses,” Ferreira said. “It’s great to see communities keep these buildings going.”
Those wishing for more information on The Four Freshman can visit their website www.4freshmen.com. For information on their fan club, The Four Freshmen Society, visit www.fourfreshmansociety.com.
The performance will be 7 p.m. Saturday at The McPherson Opera House, 221-223 South Main Street.
To purchase tickets, visit the Opera House website at www.mcphersonoperahouse.org, call 241-1952 or stop by the box office.