The Ink Spots were an American vocal group who began recording in the 1930s. They enjoyed a lengthy and influential career, being one of the first African-American actors to find wider acceptance amongst the white American community. Their work exerted a key influence about what became rhythm and blues and later rock'n'roll. This articles provides the career overview of the Ink spots.
The Ink Spots formed in Indianapolis in 1934, with the original members being Orville 'Hoppy' Jones, Ivory 'Deek' Watson, Jerry Daniels and Charlie Fuqua. Bill Kenny became part of the group in 1936, replacing Daniels, and his high tenor vocal tones found a perfect counterpoint in Hoppy's 'talking' chorus delivery. The band performed in a ballad style and was notable for the way in which Hoppy played the cello as though it was a stand-up bass. Other members of the band also played guitar, ukelele and trumpet. Playing a 'jump' style of rhythm and blues, they made an appearance on NBC's first demonstration television programs. Their performances were also marked by some skilful vocal improvisations in a variety of style and the group were also fine dancers who added flourishes such as juggling their instruments to the performances. After recording unsuccessfully with Victor Records, the group signed for Decca and enjoyed their first hit single 'If I Didn't Care' on the latter label in 1939. They would go on to reap massive success over the next decade and a half, notching many number ones on the nascent US charts, including 'The Gypsy', which remained at the top for 13 weeks.
Splits and mutations
Death Hoppy Jones sadly died in 1944 as the group was hitting the peak of their popularity. Charlie Fuqua was also drafted into the military at this time and this would trigger a series of mutations of the group which would perform in various line-ups over the coming years. Final record The group released their final record as a group in 1951 but that was far from the end of groups bearing the name 'Ink Spots'. After the demise of the original line-up, a whole plethora of acts calling themselves The Ink Spots have performed, often with tenuous links to the original line-up.
The Ink Spots were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1999 and occupied a special place in American musical history since then. A decade earlier, Bill Kenny, Charlie Fuqua, Deek Watson and Hoppy Jones had also been inducted in the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame for the influence their work had exerted over later music. Since 1995, Ink Spots songs have been used in successive versions of the video game 'Fallout'.