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1963 – The Town and Country Four

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Tenor: Leo Sisk
Lead: Larry Autenreith
Bass: Ralph Anderson
Bari: Jack Elder

After winning the 1958 Johnny Appleseed District Quartet Championship and a third-place International bronze medal in 1959, the Town & Country Four distinguished itself as the first Barbershop Harmony Society-quartet to go on to win its gold medals after having won three consecutive silver (second-place) medals in the years 1960, ’61 and ‘62.

That means the quartet placed in the top three medalist positions five times; more than any other Society-quartet to date. The T&C4 was also the first champion to win “internationally,” since the 1963 convention was held in Toronto, Canada for the first time in the history of the Society. The Society’s first Champion-quartet was “crowned” in 1939, so the T&C4 coincidentally became the Society’s twenty-five-year Silver Anniversary Champions; serendipitous after having won three consecutive silver medals. One of the quartet-greats of the early 1960s, the Town and Country Four’s trademark Larry Autenreith arrangements gave the quartet its identity in competition with its contemporaries; other great quartets like the Suntones, Gala Lads, Sidewinders, and Four Renegades. In 2013, we celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the quartet’s 1963 International Championship at the Society’s seventy-fifth International Convention in Toronto, Canada, the same city where the quartet won the gold.

After the original foursome disbanded at the end of 1964, they tried several different combinations – between Leo Sisk and Ralph Anderson, and between Larry Autenreith and Jack Elder – until the beginning of 1966, and then retired the T&C4 name altogether. However, the Society would see a continuation of various Johnny Appleseed District Quartet Champions and international representatives in succeeding years. Prior to the Town and Country Four, Leo and Jack had sung together in the early 1950s combinations of the Maestros and Gateway Four; both JAD quartets.

After the retirement of the Town and Country Four, tenor Leo Sisk went on to become a JAD Quartet Champion in the 1968 Point Four, 1975 Road Show, and 1983 Harmony Partners. Those quartets, along with the Golden Touch totaled eleven trips to international competition, including two top twenty finishes. In 1987, one of those included Leo’s son, Mike, lead of the Harmony Partners. Leo also sang in The Alumni; JAD Seniors Quartet Champs from 1991 through ’97, a three –time International Seniors Silver medalist. Leo passed away January 2nd of 2003.

Lead Larry Autentreith was credited as a genius-arranger, and he went on to become a JAD Quartet Champ in the 1967 Travelers and 1975 Road Show quartets. Both foursomes had finished in the top twenty, earning semi-finalist rank (Travelers 1967-68 and Road Show 1976), and Larry earned quarter-finalist rank in the Golden Touch. After moving out west in 1976, he directed the Tucson Sunshine Chorus, and sang in a competing quartet in the FWD. Larry passed away July 8th of 1992.

Baritone Jack Elder was first inspired by his father, Pete Elder, baritone of the prestigious medalist quartet from the 1940s, the Westinghouse Quartet, which had earned every one of the top five medals except gold. Jack was the spokesman for the T&C4, and was known for his joke-telling. He went on to sing with a later formation of the champion Pittsburghers, renamed “The Pittsburgh Four” from the late 1960s until the late 1970s. Jack passed away November 18th, 1986.

In the early 1950s, Bass Ralph Anderson began singing barbershop harmony after being introduced to the Pittsburgh Chapter by Bill Conway bass of the 1948 International Champion Pittsburghers. He was quickly approached by Leo, Larry and Jack to be their bass singer. Known for his huge, resonant, deep voice, Ralph was featured on several T&C4 solos, including Old Man River, Johnny Appleseed, Lucky Old Son, and Wanderin’. Once the Town and Country Four had officially retired the use of the name in 1966, Ralph retired from barbershop singing altogether. He passed away February 27, 1976.

By | 2017-11-27T14:07:15-05:00 December 28th, 2011|All Champions, Uncategorized|Comments Off on 1963 – The Town and Country Four

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