In Celebration of the Human Voice - The Essential Musical Instrument
Formed in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, USA, in 1952, the vocal harmony group the Four Coins consisted of George Mantalis, James Gregorakis and brothers George and Michael Mahramas. Originally the quartet were horn players in an orchestra with Bobby Vinton, who was an unknown at the time. At the end of 1952 the foursome began harmonizing together, and in January 1953 appeared on an 'amateur hour' radio programme, which they won. They left Vinton in 1953 and began a residency at a Pittsburgh club called the Blue Ridge Inn, naming themselves the Four Keys.
They recorded their first singles in November 1953 for Corona Records, which led to a contract with Epic Records, a branch of the larger Columbia Records. Taking their cue from another quartet, the Four Aces, the group changed its name to the Four Coins. The group's first Epic single, 'We'll Be Married (In The Church In The Wildwood)', sold well but it was not until 1957 that they recorded their biggest hit, 'Shangri-La', which reached number 11 in the US charts and earned a gold record. The group had charted seven times by 1959. In 1960 they changed labels to MGM Records and continued to record for Jubilee Records, Vee Jay Records and Roulette Records, undergoing personnel changes along the way. They disbanded in 1970.
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Review: They didn't have as many hits as contemporaries like the Four Lads or The Four Aces, but The Four Coins nonetheless managed to rack up a respectable list of chart records during their run of popularity in the '50s. Initially known as The Four Keys, the group began their career in earnest with long stint at Pittsburgh club. They also did their first recording in Pittsburgh, getting a deal with tiny Carona Records and debuting with a song called "Hot Toddy". It failed to heat up, as did subsequent Carona releases. As The Four Coins, they signed to Columbia's Epic division, debuting with "In the Church in the Wildwood". Their next single was "I Love You Madly", it was a cover of a regional hit by a duo called Charlie and Ray. The Coins' version was a national hit going top 30 in early 1955. While most artists are lucky to get one shot at the charts, let alone two, The Four Coins were not about to be counted out of the Hot 100 just because of a few flops. In the Spring of 1957 they cut their biggest hit yet, just missing the top 10 with the lush "Shangri-La". The song would go on to become something of a standard.