Over the years, Thurl was a member of many different vocal groups. This
page is not intended to be comprehensive, but will attempt to include all
the major groups in which he sang. They are listed in roughly
The Goose Creek Quartet
The first group Thurl sang with was the Goose Creek Quartet. More facts
about the group can be found on the Radio page.
The Paul Taylor Choristers
Thurl left the Goose Creek Quartet to join the Paul Taylor Choristers,
who backed up Bing Crosby on Kraft Music Hall radio program. The
group consisted on 8 men and 6 women who all shared one microphone.
In 1938, Thurl joined two of his colleagues, Bill Days and Max Smith, from
the Paul Taylor Choristers as part of the Sportsmen Quartet. Details about
this group is on The Sportsmen page.
In 1948, shortly after Thurl returned to civilian life following World
War II, Thurl and Max Smith formed the Mellomen. It was during his years
with the Mellomen, that Thurl achieved his biggest success. See The
Mellomen page for additional information
Big John & the Buzzards
Since the Mellomen were well-known at the time, when they decided to
record some rock-and-roll music the chose a new name. Though they
originally recorded four songs for Columbia Records, only two were
actually released by Columbia. The other two songs "Oop
Shoop" (2:15) and "Your Cash Ain't
Nothin' But Trash" (2:19) were put out on the OKeh label in
An OKeh records boxed set (The OKeh Rhythm & Blues Story 1949-1957)
was released in 1993 and had the following information in the liner notes:
thought to be RCA/Groove R&B star Big John Greer, moonlighting for the
competition, it turns out this Big John is the rather obscure Big John
Otherbody who gives a rather perverse trashing to two of the era's biggest
hits--the Clovers' "Your Cash Ain't Nothin' But Trash," and the
Teen Queens' "Oop Shoop." Certainly one of the most unusual OKeh
discs of the '50s and one of the rarest.
Big John Otherbody? How about that for a made-up name? Actually
"Big John Otherbody" is none other than Thurl himself, and the
Buzzards are the rest of the Mellomen. The two songs that were released on
Columbia were "Hey, Little Girl"
(2:47) and "Mean Woman" also from 1954.
Randy Van Horne Singers
Thurl was a member of the Randy Van Horne Singers in the 1950s and 1960s.
Other members were Alicia Adams, Sue Allen, B. J. Baker, Vangie Carmicheal,
Peggy Clark, John Drake, Jimmy Joyce, Bill Lee, Jay Meyer, Marni Nixon,
Vern Rowe, Max Smith, Bob Stevens, Sally Sweetland, and Sally Terri. The
Randy Van Horne Singers recorded lots of commercial jingles as well as
several albums, but their most famous work is probably the television
theme songs they recorded for Hanna-Barbera cartoons. They sang the themes
for The Flintstones, Huckleberry Hound, The Jetsons, Magilla
Gorilla, and Yogi Bear. The group also sang regularly on The
Nat King Cole Show in 1957.
As a member of Joe "Fingers" Carr's vocal backup group the
Carr-Hops, Thurl sang on a number of recordings. One song that features
Thurl is the 1953 Capitol single "The One
Called Riley" (2:18). Joe Carr and the Carr-Hops also backed up
Tennessee Ernie Ford on "Stack-O-Lee" in 1951.
The Norman Luboff Choir
The Mellomen made up the core the Norman Luboff Choir in the 1950s,
1960s, and 1970s. Thurl can be heard on almost all of their albums, though
often just as part of the choir. On the album Songs of the Cowboy
he has a solo on "Riders in the Sky"
(3:05). On Songs of the West he sings on "The
Old Chisholm Trail" (1:48). Likewise on Songs of the Sea,
Thurl gets a solo on "The Boston Come All
Ye" (2:01). The Norman Luboff Choir also backed up numerous
singers including Doris Day, Frankie Laine, and Jo Stafford. For more
about these and other singers, see the Work With
Other Artists page.
The Sons of the Pioneers
Though he sang on three of their albums, Thurl was never an official
member of The Sons of the Pioneers. After Hugh Farr left the group, they
were without a bass singer. The four-part harmonies were so important the
Pioneers' sound that someone needed to take over for Hugh. That is where
Thurl came in. The three albums on which he sang were, Cool Water
(1959), Lure of the West (1961), and Tumbleweed Trail
(1962). He even has a solo on "Ragtime
Cowboy Joe" (2:23) from Lure of the West. On Cool Water
and Lure of the West, Thurl sang on the entire album but on On Tumbleweed
Trail, he sang only on "The Lilies Grow High", "Song of
the Trail", and "Song of the Pioneers".
The Thurl Ravenscroft Singers
The Thurl Ravenscroft Singers released an album on Dot Records titled 12
Great Hits in 1962. The group was made up of the Mellomen and a few
female singers. Thurl has solo lines on the song "If
I Didn't Care" (2:41), but otherwise just sings with the group
such as on "Who's Sorry Now" (2:18).
Pete King Chorale
One of Thurl's favorite recordings was the song "Wagon
Wheels" (2:44) from the record The Wide Open Spaces by the
Pete King Chorale.
The Johnny Mann Singers
Thurl was on 28 albums with the Johnny Mann Singers in the 1950s, 1960s,
and 1970s. Thurl said that whenever Johnny Mann wanted to go into the
recording studio, that he always called Thurl first to make sure he was
available. On most albums, Thurl is part of the choir, but on a few songs
he does have a solo. Two good examples are "Walk
Right In" (2:03) on the album Midnight Special and "She's
Just My Style" (2:25) from the record A Man and a Woman.
On one song, "Boll Weevil" (2:31)
from the album Golden Folk Song Hits, Thurl sings the lead and
the rest of the group sings backup.
Thurl also appeared on Johnny Mann's Stand Up and Cheer which
was syndicated and ran for 3 seasons on between 1971 and 1973. See Thurl
on Television for more about the show.
The Johnny Mann Singers performed at the White House on two occasions,
one during a luncheon held by Pat Nixon for Imelda Marcos in January 1973,
the other for a meeting between Richard Nixon and Leonid Brezhnev in June
The Modern Barbershop Quartet
In 1974, Thurl was recruited, along with Ron Hicklin, Gene Morford, and
fellow Mellomen member, Gene Merlino to record and album as The Modern
Barbershop Quartet. The album Modern Barbershop Quartet was
released by Bell Records and featured barbershop-style renditions of
popular songs of the time. Some of the songs included were "Delta
Dawn", "If", "Me and Bobby McGee", and "Tie
a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree".