ith the confluence of musical styles, particularly in the early days of what would become rock and roll there was one style that has remained true to itself. One truism of the genre, you know what it is when you hear it. An offshoot of Barbershop quartets that gained favor in the late 1880s, these vocal harmony groups were predominately African-American and male from their initial appearance in the early 1930s until their cross over blending into rock and roll of the 1950s. Two groups left a bigger footprint and bore more influence than any others: The Mills Brothers and the Ink Spots. The former was four bothers form Ohio that had their first hit in 1931 with “Tiger Rag” and their last in 1968 (#23 on Billboard’s Hot 100) with “Cab Driver.” They unofficially lead the “American Invasion” into Britain by popularizing American rhythm & blues before it gained wide-spread acceptance in America and opened the doors (and ears) of British audiences to Negro music i.e. blues, jazz and spiritual. The Mills Brothers were the first African-American group to have a command performance for British royalty, King George V and Queen Mary in 1934 at the London Palladium. Their style influenced many other groups and singers.
246 | The World’s Hardest Music Trivia