Tenor: Larry Hedgepeth
Lead: Keith Keltner
Bass: Joe Delzell
Bari: Keith Young
From a high school in the heart of the Missouri Ozarks to the winners’ circle onstage of the Civic Opera House in Chicago is an even longer trip than the miles indicate. The Four Pitchikers made it, though, in 1959, to become International quartet champions. But they might never have arrived if it hadn’t been for a chance, once-in-a-lifetime involvement with a man who was to become one of the Society’s leading arrangers and coaches.
The original Pitchikers, natives of two tiny farming communities in southwest Missouri, were high school students; Larry Hedgepeth, Keith Keltner, Keith Young and Johnny Marriott. Bitten by the barbershop bug, they joined the Heart of the Ozarks chapter and competed at a couple of district contests while still in school. They called themselves the Teen Tuners.
At about that time (around 1950) another chapter member with a lot of musical talent was trying his hand at writing barbershop arrangements. But he couldn’t find a combination of voices that “played back” the songs to his satisfaction. The arranger’s name was S. K. Grundy. The Teen Tuners graduated, and Johnny left to take a job elsewhere.
It occurred to S. K. that the two Keiths and Larry, plus an experienced bass, might prove the combination he was seeking. He coaxed Joe Delzell from another quartet to join what then became the Pitchikers. The rest is history.
With Grundy’s coaching and arrangements, the Pitchikers won bronze medals in 1956 and ’57, took the silver in ’58, and the gold in 1959. S. K. Grundy went on to coach other quartets and became on of the Society’s best-known, most prolific and most respected arrangers