Location

Box Factory For the Arts
1101 Broad Street
St. Joseph, Michigan 49085
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About this event

The Spaniels started singing in the hallways and performing in talent shows in the early 1950’s at Roosevelt High School in Gary, Indiana when classmates Pookie Hudson, Willie, C and Gerald Gregory began singing together and formed the group. Billy Shelton sang with lead singer Pookie Hudson in a gospel group called the Four Bees. After gaining local popularity in high school the Spaniels continued to surge as performers and achieved local success as they continued to perform even at regional sock-hop events. Pookie Hudson and the group began to travel and perform across the country increasing their repertoire and popularity.

The Spaniels were the first artist signed to Vee-Jay Records, the ground-breaking independent African-American owned record label that eventually paved the way for several other up and coming singing groups and artists. The Spaniels recorded their initial release, “Baby It’s You” on May 5, 1953 and it reached #10 on Billboard’s R&B chart on September 5, 1953. In 1954 the Spaniel’s hit “Goodnight Sweetheart” was # 5 on Billboard’s R&B charts. The popular song was featured in popular movies like “American Graffiti”, “Diner”, “Three Men & A baby”, &  “American Hot Wax”. The Spaniels also made several appearances at the Apollo & Regal theatres in New York in 1954 & toured with the second Annual Midwest R&B show with the Drifters, Cadillacs, Flamingos, The Counts, Erskine Hawkins, & Roy Hamilton. In 2005 the Spaniels were inducted into the Doo Wopp Hall of Fame.

The Spaniels evolved, endured & transformed with several different  personnel changes over the years, including the addition of Billy Shelton as The Spaniels bass singer replacing Gerald Gregory, officially inducted by Don Porter in 1990 where he has remained ever since. Shelton later became the group leader following Hudson’s death in 2007. Billy has appointed Daniel Porter as the group manager in addition to being the second tenor as second generation singer as Don Porter was his father.

Billy Shelton – now 90 – is one the last of the original group of friends who began singing together in Roosevelt High School’s hallways during the formative days of the early 1950s, and his voice remains untouched by time. Don Porter’s son Daniel Porter has also performed with the group since he was 14 years old. In the mid 1980’s he performed with the group on the WGN Jerry Lewis telethon.  The Spaniels were awarded the Pioneer- Lifetime Achievement Award from the Smithsonian Institution’s Rhythm & Blues Foundation in 1991. The Spaniels were inducted into the Rhythm & Blues and the Doo Wopp halls of fame in 1992.

Currently the group is affectionately known as "The Spaniels Forever” & Billy Shelton continues singing those classic Spaniels’ hits and other songs in four-part harmony with Patrick Pitre, guitarist Phil Ratliff and Daniel Porter who is the son of the original member Don Porter. The Spaniels Forever continues to perform across the country keeping the “Doo Wopp” sound alive and staying connected to their international fan base. 

 

 

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