Formed: 1947, Toronto, Ontario
First Single Release: 1952
- Bernie Toorish (lead / second tenor)
- James Arnold (first tenor)
- Connie Codarini (bass)
- Frank Busseri (baritone)
Achievements: Canadian Music Hall of Fame, Juno Lifetime Achievement Award.
“Moments to Remember” (1955)
- Peaked at #2 on the Pop Charts
Some Other Hit Singles:
- “The Mockingbird” (1952)
- “Istanbul (Not Constantinople)” (1953)
- “Skokian” (1954)
- “No, Not Much!” (1956)
- “Standing on the Corner” (1956)
Experts at a capella and harmony, and influenced by spirituals and gospel music, the Four Lads formed in Toronto after the friends learned to sing as members of the St. Michael’s Choir School. (Two of them were to found the rock and roll band The Crew Cuts later on.) The Four Lads’ lead vocalist Bernie Toorish (born 1931) had grown up in a musical family and had begun performing from the age of three.
They went through a series of name changes, including The Four Dukes, which they were asked to change when told another group had taken that name, and they finally settled on The Four Lads. After debuting in 1949 on CBC radio, they began performing for some 30 weeks at New York’s Le Ruban Bleu dinner club. They signed with Columbia Records and performed backing vocals for Jonny Ray’s hits “Cry” and “The Little White Cloud That Cried” in 1951. Both were huge hits with sales exceeding five million copies. They began veering away from spirituals and recording pop songs.
Their first release, “The Mockingbird”, came in 1952. Their first gold record came out the following year—“Istanbul (Not Constantinople)”. From there, they racked up many hits, their biggest being “Moments to Remember” (1955) which reached #2 on the U.S. pop charts. “No, Not Much” the following year was a million-seller as well. Their expert and closely harmonized singing was well received, labeled as “polished, crisp, with an overlay of vibrato on the long notes” (AMG). The Four Lads also released a number of albums, five them going gold. They made a number of TV appearances in the 50s, and, though performing primarily in the U.S., made the occasional appearance in Canada.
Their last hit came in 1961. The following year, they made some changes in membership. Over the course of their career, The Four Lads, have sold some 50 million recordings. They received a Juno lifetime achievement award and have been inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.
* Although the group disbanded in 1977 when Toorish became an insurance underwriter, after their induction into the Music Hall of Fame in 1984, enough interest was generated to prompt him to reactivate the group and they began performing at clubs and on cruises.