The Four Lads Biography

The line-up comprised Frank Busseri (Toronto, Canada; baritone), Bernard Toorish (b. Toronto, Canada; second tenor), James Arnold (b. Toronto, Canada; first tenor) and Connie Codarini (b. Toronto, Canada; bass). A versatile vocal quartet, popular in US clubs and theatres, and on television and records, especially during the 50s. The Lads formed their group while attending St. Michael’s Choir School in Toronto. Aided by ‘Dad’ Wilson, a member of the Golden Gate Quartet, the Lads played a try-out engagement at Le Ruban Bleu in New York, stayed for some 30 weeks, and then toured extensively. They were signed by Columbia Records as a background group, and in 1951 accompanied Johnnie Ray on his first big hit, ‘Cry’, which sold over two million copies. Their first solo success was in 1952 with ‘Mocking Bird’, followed by ‘He Who Has Love’, ‘Down By The Riverside’, ‘Istanbul (Not Constantinople)’, ‘Gilly Gilly Ossenfeffer Katzenellen Bogen By The Sea’ and ‘Skokiaan’, a South African song. In 1955 they had one of their biggest hits with ‘Moments To Remember’, written by Robert Allen and Al Stillman.

The songwriters also provided the Lads with several other successful singles such as ‘No, Not Much’, ‘Who Needs You’, ‘Enchanted Island’ and ‘There’s Only One Of You’. Allen and Stillman also contributed to Johnny Mathis’ early success with numbers such as ‘Chances Are’ and ‘It’s Not For Me To Say’. Other Four Lads’ US Top 20 entries, through until 1958, included ‘The Bus Stop Song (A Paper Of Pins)’, ‘A House With Love In It’, ‘Put A Light In The Window’ and ‘Standing On The Corner’, from Frank Loesser’s Broadway show The Most Happy Fella. In 1957, the group recorded the album The Four Lads Sing Frank Loesser, which featured medleys from three of his successful scores: Where’s Charley?, Hans Christian Andersen and Guys And Dolls. Other successful albums were their US Top 20 entry, On The Sunny Side, with the Claude Thornhill Orchestra, Breezin’ Along, conducted by Ray Ellis and Four On The Aisle, a collection of extended medleys from the musical shows Annie Get Your Gun, Babes In Arms and Kiss Me, Kate. A modified version of the group continued to work in the following decades, with Arnold and Busseri performing with two new members. Toorish was to be found singing with the Vince Mastro Quartet, and later became an insurance underwriter. He reactivated the Four Lads following their induction into the Juno Awards Hall Of Fame in 1984, and continues to lead the group (of which he is the only remaining original member) on the oldies circuit.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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