April 27, 2018

Blog 28: Jimmy Dean & The Lennon Sisters On the Road

After our first month in Las Vegas with Elvis, the Imperials went back on the road to fulfill contracted dates we had established with promoters. Our schedule was full with two months a year with Elvis, our gospel dates, and also our dates with Jimmy Dean. Jimmy was a country singer who had a very successful network show on ABC where he featured famous country music artists who had never made it to network television before. From that very successful show, he also added the very successful song, “Big John”, to his list of successes. He hired us a year after I came with the group and we immediately went on the road with him. This was a year before Elvis called. Our first appearance was a theater in the round in W. Covina, CA with special guests, The Lennon Sisters. They were regularly featured on the Lawrence Welk show weekly and had a huge following. At that time, Jimmy had employed a group of twelve men with doctorates in music who were called the Cimarron Singers. They would sing songs like Maria, Shenandoah, and other songs that were received very well.

Since we were the new kids on the block, we were added to the male chorus. In the middle of the show, the Cimarron Singers would be featured on their songs. After those songs, Jimmy introduced the Imperials and we came out from the group and sang our song. We chose He Touched Me. The response was amazing!  We were instant successes. The local newspaper had a review on the show that was enlightening. The reporter wasn’t used to power voices and he described us as the Imperials, a male quartet with “shotgun voices”! Because of the responses from the audience, on the next tour, the Imperials were the only supporting act for Jimmy Dean. He saved a lot of money on flights and he gained a group that added much to his show.

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