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Ross Barbour Biography

Ross Barbour

Born: 1928. Died: 2011. Lived in: United States

Ross Edwin Barbour was an American singer with the vocal quartet The Four Freshmen.

The Four Freshmen originated in early 1948 when brothers Ross and Don Barbour, then at Butler University's Arthur Jordan Conservatory in Indianapolis, Indiana, formed a barbershop quartet called Hal's Harmonizers. The Harmonizers also included Marvin Pruitt - soon replaced by Ross and Don's cousin Bob Flanigan - and Hal Kratzsch (1925-70), replaced in 1953 by Ken Errair. The quartet soon adopted a more jazz-oriented repertoire and renamed itself the Toppers. At first, they were influenced by Glenn Miller's The Modernaires and Mel Torme's Mel-Tones, but soon developed their own style of improvised vocal harmony. In September 1948, the quartet went on the road as The Four Freshmen, and soon drew the admiration of jazz legends such as Dizzy Gillespie and Woody Herman.

In 1950, The Four Freshmen got a break when band leader Stan Kenton heard the quartet in Dayton, Ohio, and arranged for an audition with his label, Capitol Records, which signed The Four later that year. In 1952, they released their first hit single "It's a Blue World". Further hits included "Mood Indigo" in 1954, "Day by Day" in 1955, and "Graduation Day" in 1956.

Throughout the 1950s and early 1960s, The Four Freshmen released a number of recordings, made film and television appearances, and performed in concert. The group eventually lost their mainstream following with the advent of the British pop bands of the 1960s. After Barbour's retirement in 1977, the Freshmen continued under the management of Flanigan, who kept the rights to The Four Freshmen name. Flanigan died on May 15, 2011 at the age of 84.

Barbour died of cancer on August 20, 2011, aged 82

Member of Four Freshmen (Defunct) - Founder

Media Articles
Obituary, Los Angeles Times, Ross Barbour dies at 82; original member of the Four Freshmen

Obituary, New York Times, Ross Barbour, a Founding ‘Freshman,’ Dies at 82