Ken Irwin of Rounder Records forwards me this notice from David McGee, proprietor of the interesting website Deep Roots. There’s a link to the full story, with video clips, at the end. I recommend it; I had never known the history of Gordon Stoker and the group he founded, The Jordanaires.
Of course on Hillbilly at Harvard we have a long tradition of eschewing (and decrying) choruses on country records, especially the egregious over-use of them by producers like Pappy Daily, Chet Atkins, and Bob Ferguson back in the ’60s. But it is hard to imagine some of the classic pop, rock ‘n’ roll, and country records without the sweetening (an industry term) of The Jordanaires. Indeed, with Gordon Stoker’s high tenor cutting through now and then in the clips that Deep Roots offers, I swear I hear a little streetcorner doo-wop sneaking in.
The Jordanaires began as a gospel quartet, and that comes through as well, especially on the clip of the lovely “Dig a Little Deeper” from The Grand Ole Opry that Deep Roots provides at the end of the article. /CL
GORDON STOKER, tenor-pianist-leader-owner of THE JORDANAIRES, passed away at his Brentwood, TN, home on Tuesday, March 27, according to his son Alan, a Grammy winning audio restoration engineer at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. With his father’s passing, Alan said, The Jordanaires’ story comes to an end.
With ELVIS, PATSY CLINE, RICKY NELSON, FERLIN HUSKY, TAMMY WYNETTE, DON GIBSON, GEORGE JONES, JOHNNY HORTON, JOHNNY CASH—and so many others—The Jordanaires were part of some of the most enduring and important music of their time. As Alan Stoker noted, the group was featured on Grammy winning recordings in six decades. Moreover, with Elvis they introduced gospel fervor into the nascent rock ‘n’ roll culture in helping the Hillbilly Cat craft a sound like no other artist’s before or since. And as author and Elvis historian ALANNA NASH pointed out in The Tennessean, “What may not be so obvious is that Elvis, such a ‘moral threat’ when he first appeared on the national scene in 1956, may not have been so readily accepted by such powerful impresarios as Ed Sullivan had the Jordanaires not lent Presley their sound and support. In a sense, they risked their reputation in the gospel world by performing with him and giving him their stamp of approval. That was Gordon’s doing, all the way.”
In “Gordon Stoker Goes Home and The Jordanaires’ Story Ends” we pay tribute to Gordon Stoker, a good soul and a great music man, and to the Jordanaires’ monumental artistry. The videos alone are a worth a visit to this page, but bring your hankies along. You might get a little misty remembering all that’s been lost.