Will They Ever Be Sophomores?

Posted March 11th, 2013 at 2:35 pm (UTC+0)
1 comment

By Doug Levine

The Four Freshmen are back.  Actually, the  vocal group that began on a small college campus 65 years ago never really went away.

It was all the way back in 1948 that brothers Ross and Don Barbour, freshmen at Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana, started the group with Marvin Pruitt and Hal Kratzsch.  They called themselves Hal’s Harmonizers and then The Toppers, before settling on The Four Freshmen.  The fifties just wouldn’t be the same without the Four Freshmen staples “Day By Day,” “It’s A Blue World” and “Mood Indigo.” The Four Freshmen then:

There were the inevitable group changes along the way, but as new members came and went, The Four Freshmen stayed true to their four-part harmony roots.  The last original member Bob Flanigan retired in 1992.  Now the group is made up of Bob Ferriera, Curtis Calderon (trumpet), Brian Eichenberger (guitar) and Vince Johnson (bass), referred to as “Group 22.” Here are the Four Freshmen today:

Bob Ferriera, who has played drums along with singing in the group for over 20 years, says the quartet rose not only on the strength of their vocal harmonies but also on their musical accompaniment:

“They’d sometimes do two shows in a day, so they would just throw all of their instruments in a car and run from show to show – it was kind of hard to hire out musicians to do all these shows when you’re young and you’re broke and in college – and they were all playing instruments anyway so they figured ‘let’s just do it.’”

Bob says they do their best to keep the Four Freshmen repertoire intact, even though it means tackling music from a different era:

“I think our approach, the four of us, even though we were raised in a different time with different styles of music being our initial influences, we know and understand that the Four Freshmen sound is best when it is applied to the Great American Songbook.”

Bob, Brian, Curtis and Vince will be on tour all year, including a stop at the 26th Annual International Four Freshmen Society Convention in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  From September 5 to September 7, members from previous groups and fans from around the world will celebrate The Four Freshmen’s 65th anniversary, as well as the release of their new CD, “Love Songs.”

The Four Freshmen release “Love Songs”

One response to “Will They Ever Be Sophomores?”

  1. Bob Magruder says:

    The late Bob Flanigan, trombonist who managed the group and sang the top part, called the current group “the best ever.” He said that more than once during 60+ years but this time he really meant it. Most fans who remember the original group of 1948 and heard them all perform over the years, would agree. I’m one of them. The Great American Songbook must be preserved. For appearance schedule, check their website:




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