Tenor: Ray Henders
Lead: Butch Koth
Bass: Tom Felgen
Bari: Greg Wright
Chicago News, when they won the international championship in 1981, seemed to have come almost “out of the blue.”
True, they had placed second in 1980 and 8th in their first competition the year before, but compared to foursomes that struggled a dozen years to reach the gold, the “News” was a rash newcomer.
In fact, however, the 1981 victory gave tenor Ray Henders, lead Butch Koth, bari Greg Wright and bass Tom Felgen a total of 19 international medals – 7 bronze, 7 silver, and 5 gold – won in four different quartets. For Tom, bass of the 1965 champion Four Renegades, this would be his second gold.
Tom and Greg had been singing in quartets since they were about 10 years old, while Butch was a singer in high school. Ray, however, had been quartetting for “only” about 25 years.
Among the four of them they had performed with dozens of quartets. Ray’s quartets included the Midnight Oilers, one of the first groups to perform overseas for U.S. servicemen. Ray also sang with Soundtracks, bronze medalists in 1974. Greg and his brother Larry (then lead of 139th Street Quartet) sang together in the popular Sundowners, twice silver medalists, and later with a professional pop-singing group. Butch was lead of the Landmarks, Illinois District champs and international competitors.
With these experienced backgrounds, the Chicago News became an “overnight sensation” in 1981>.