Short career summary
The Crew-Cuts were an early 50s to early 60s Canadian pop vocal group, who also enjoyed hits in the United States and other countries. Formed in Toronto, the members – Rudi Maugeri, John Perkins, Ray Perkins, and Pat Barrett – were mates at St. Michael’s Choir School. The Crew-Cuts’ most known single was their 1954 cover of the Chords’ “Sh-Boom (Life Could Be A Dream)” which possessed a decidedly “whiter” sound, and thus outsold the R&B original. Their other well-known hits were other R&B covers like “Ko Ko Mo (I Love You So),” “Don’t Be Angry,” “Earth Angel,” “Gum Drop” and many others. From Mercury label, the four-piece moved to RCA Records in 1958; their singles failed to chart and so they disbanded in 1964. Thirteen years later, Canadian quartet reunited in Nashville, Tennessee; they also became an inductee into the Juno Hall of Fame during the 1990s.
How did the Crew-Cuts form and develop their style?
Canadian traditional pop and doo-wop group The Crew Cuts had once made a considerable splash on the American (and also worldwide) music scene during the 1950s, mostly by virtue of their more “white” covers of previous R&B hits. The boys had all been members of the St. Michael’s Choir school in Toronto, where another famous vocal group The Four Lads also originated. The Crew-Cuts consisted of Rudi Maugeri (lead and baritone), John Perkins (lead and tenor), John’s brother Ray Perkins (bass) and Pat Barrett (lead and tenor).
Their style involved a big-band orchestration that made them really well known, which is interesting to note considering that big bands then were starting to fall out of mainstream favor.
From Ontario to worldwide
The quartet came to the US, specifically in neighboring New York, where they won a second place in Talent Scouts which a TV/radio program hosted by Arthur Godfrey. They recorded a single there, but nothing happened, so they went to performing in minor clubs before returning to Canada.
While performing in Sudbury, Ontario, in the middle of the numbing winter, they were told that they had been invited to guest on a local TV program in Cleveland, Ohio. While in Cleveland, local disc jockey Bill Randle gave them the name The Crew-Cuts and helped the group to sign up with Mercury Records. Although the band’s self-penned material did well at the charts (most specifically “Crazy ‘Bout Ya Baby”, which was a Top 10 hit) it was their covers of original R&B hits that gained the group a wider acceptance amongst US audiences. The group’s first cover was “Sh-Boom (Life Could Be a Dream)” which was a previous hit by R&B/doo-wop group The Chords. It went all the way to #1 on the Billboard pop chart in 1954.
The group continued to chart high hits by single to single, and most of them are covers: Gene and Eunice’s “Ko Ko Mo (I Love You So)” (#6 pop) and its B-side single, The Penguins’ “Earth Angel” (#3 US pop, #4 UK); Nappy Brown’s “Don’t Be Angry” (#14 pop), Otis Williams and the Charms’ “Gum Drop” (#10 pop), Dick Glasser’s “Angels in the Sky” (#11 pop) and so many other singles that hit the Billboard’s Top 20 and Top 40 singles listings.
It is also worthy to note that the Crew-Cuts’ covers became hits in the US, whereas their original compositions were Canadian chart smashes which were otherwise unknown among US audiences.
The Crew-Cuts moved from Mercury to RCA Records in 1958. The group dissoloved in 1964 just as the British Invasion had conquered America. However, they all relocated in the US and in 1977 reunited in Nashville, Tennessee.
The Crew-Cuts were inducted into the Juno Hall of Fame during the 1990s.