Tenor: Bud Bingham
Lead: Bob Groom
Bass: Jay Bond
Bari: Pete Tyree
“We probably had the shortest reign on record,” laughed Pete Tyree, baritone of the 1954 international champion quartet, the Orphans of Wichita, Kansas. But during their championship year – and especially in the 24 hours following their winning of the Landino Trophy – they may have made as many Americans aware of barbershop harmony as any quartet in history.
On Sunday evening, June 13, 1954, they appeared on Ed Sullivan’s famed Toast of the Town television show in New York City. An estimated 24 million viewers watched tenor Bud Bingham, lead Bob Groom, bass Jay Bond, and Pete Tyree. They heard Sullivan say the other performers – the dance team of Mata and Hari, Janis Paige, Johnny Rait, and Victor Borge – were applauding vigorously in the wings.
The quartet, organized in the early 1950s, made only one change of personnel, when Pete replaced the original bari in August 1953. Although they had competed once before at the international level, they did not make the semi-finals.
But in 1954 they zoomed from obscurity to the championship. Like all champions, the Orphans made numerous appearances during the year following their victory, but they broke up in the winter of 1955.
Jay moved to North Carolina and then back to Wichita, where he sang with the Cavaliers. Pete went to Colorado Springs, where he directed the Pike’s Peak chapter chorus for many years and sang with a quartet called the Pusillanimous Posse. Bud and Bob also left Wichita.