The Four Coins were a doo-wop vocal group, popular in the 50s music era. The four-piece band consisted of Jimmy Gregorakis, George Mantalis, and brothers Jack and George Mahramas, all of whom were of Greek lineage. They were brought to Cincinnati, Ohio by Lee Barrett, a bandleader, where they started to make records and appear on many television shows. Although they released many singles, their biggest and most memorable hit was “Shangri-La” in 1957, which was just a notch shy of making to the Top Ten. In 1957 they appeared in a classic rock n roll musical film Jamboree, where they sang “A Broken Promise. ”In 1970 they retired; in 2003 the Four Coins reunited for a couple of performances back in their hometown in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania.
The early years of The Four Coins
The pop/doo wop vocal group The Four Coins gained national success in the mid-1950’s with their biggest hit entitled “Shangri-La” (1957). Originating from Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, The Four Coins consisted of George Mantalis (tenor), Jimmy Gregorakis (bass), and the Mahramas brothers, George (lead singer) and Jack (baritone). Each of the members had Greek ancestry background. They were noticed by Lee Barrett, a local orchestra leader who brought them to an audition in Cincinnati, Ohio. The group’s audition went well, resulting to a contract signing with Epic label in 1955.
The Four Coins’ “Shangri-La”
In 1957 The Four Coins issued their third single “Shangri-La” that would become their most successful single. It almost made to the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #11. Following “Shangri-La”‘s success, The Four Coins had an appearance in the rock and roll film Jamboree (1957), performing the song “A Broken Promise.”
“Shangri-La” is The Four Coins’ most well-known tune that still lingers in every oldies music lover’s hearts. Over the years, it has been covered by several artists such as Wayne Newton, the Lettermen, Al Capps, La Pragunta, Vic Dana and Robert Maxwell; the last two artists mentioned both had a Top 40 hit with their rendition of the song in 1964.
Before making it big in 1957, the group had their first two hit singles in 1955 with “I Love You” and “Memories of You” which ranked on the Billboard Hot 100 at #28 and #22 respectively. A couple of minor hits came once again after the success of “Shangri-La” with “My One Sin” (#28, 1957) and “The World Outside” (#21, 1958). Their later recordings “My First Love” (1959) and “One Love, One Heart” (1959) entered the pop chart as well.
In 2003, The Four Coins reunited for their two final shows which were held in their hometown in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania.