Innsiders

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Innsiders
The Innsiders is the Barbershop Harmony Society's 1976 International Quartet Champion.


Quartet Members

Winning Members:

  • Tenor: Mike Cox
  • Lead: John Devine
  • Bari: Guy McShan
  • Bass: Tom Pearson

Repacement Members:

  • Tenor: John Wiggs
  • Bass: Dick Oury
  • Bass: Ken Pacetti
  • Bass: Jeff McNeeley
  • Tenor: Charlie Melton
  • Tenor: Jim Sikorski
  • Tenor: Ken Litman
  • Tenor: Lloyd Erickson

Contest Placement

International

1972 1973 1974 1975 1976
15th 4th 2nd 1st

District (SWD)

Recordings

  • Inside Out[1]
  • The Innsiders On Top Of The World[2]

Extended History

Innsiders
written and researched by Grady Kerr
taken from Golden Memories - The History of the Southwestern District - pub 1996

The ninth quartet from the Southwestern District to win the gold medals was also the very first quartet from Houston to appear on the International contest stage. The Innsiders began in 1967 when John Devine joined the Tidelanders chorus. He picked Guy McShan to sing bari. Both had been in Port Arthur's Spindletoppers quartet. They asked tenor Johnny Wiggs and bass Dick Oury to join their new quartet. These four were the first of 13 Houston chapter members who, over the next 19 years, made up the Innsiders quartet.

The championship version first sang together in September of 1971. They decided to set goals. They first wanted to become a popular show quartet and win a few contests. Six weeks later they placed third in the district contest and were being booked on many shows around the SWD. From that point on it was a steady rise.

Mike Cox joined the society in 1962 and worked as supervisor for an LTV subsidiary at NASA's Johnson Space Center. He had directed church choirs and was well known as a "cut up" and added a humorous touch to the quartet.

John Devine was a charter member (1962) of the Port Arthur chapter before moving to Houston in 1967. He worked as a purchasing agent for Texaco. Named music director of the Tidelanders chorus in 1970, John immediately led them to a fourth place finish in Atlanta.

Guy McShan, a sales engineer for General Electric, joined while in high school in 1950. As a Dallas chapter member Guy sang in several quartets one of which was the Doo Dads, 1965 Southwestern District quartet champions. He had also been a member of the Grand Prairie and Port Arthur chapters before moving to Houston.

Dr. Tom Pearson was an orthodontist who joined the Houston chapter in 1967. Pearson had served as show chairman, assistant director, and chapter president. In 1969 Tom won the district quartet championship with The Debonaires. Tom was an accomplished pilot and often flew the quartet to out of town performances.

The Innsiders qualified for the Atlanta International and placed 15th in 1972. That same year at district they moved up a notch and came in second behind the Dealer's Choice. With their sights set on the next prelims, a quirk of fate stepped in.

Guy won a sales contest at work and a trip for two to Spain. Trouble was, it was during the prelims weekend. Shirley McShan got 51 percent of the vote and the McShans headed off to Spain leaving the three Innsiders behind at Prelims as spectators (at International, the OK 4 placed sixth and the DC won it all).

This turned out to be a stroke of luck. Not going to International enabled them to afford the time and expense of attending the week-long Harmony College that summer of 1973 in Birmingham. The DC had done this the year before and it worked very well for them. DC lead, Bill Thornton encouraged the Innsiders to make the trip and they were glad they did.

At Harmony College they were coached by the best the society had to offer: Mac Huff, Billy Ball, Burt Staffen, Harry Williamson, Jack Hines and Harlan Wilson. They also met and worked with Don Clause for the first time. This week of intense work changed the quartet. They began singing better with more control and creating a "bigger" sound. This new approach of working harder and smarter was evident that fall when the Innsiders took the Southwestern District quartet championship by a 219 point margin in Oklahoma City. It also could be the reason why they made such an incredible jump from 15th place in the 1972 International to fourth in 1974 at Kansas City.

Having now become a popular show quartet and having won a few contests", the quartet set new goals ... with a gold medal being number one on the list. They took advantage of coaching from Roger Blackburn and arrangements from Dennis Driscoll. They also continued to seek help from Don Clause working sound and Arnie Bauer on stage presence. They planned on everything going into the 1975 International in Indianapolis except one thing ... The Happiness Emporium who out sang 'em. The Innsiders came in second.

After Indy they produced their first album entitled Innside Out (1976). It included many of their popular contest and show tunes like Show Me Where The Good Times Are, Who'll Dry Your Tears?, Pal Of Mine, My Buddy, The Straight Life, Exodus and the outlandish Poisoning Pigeons in the Park.

Over the next year they concentrated their efforts and worked even harder. In addition to each individual having a daily vocal workout, the quartet rehearsed three times a week. Each was scheduled in detail. They spent the first 30 minutes singing scales followed by vowel sound matching and lots of unison and duet singing. During run-throughs of the contest sets the wives would help coach the stage presence making it a complete "team effort". They considered the ability to work well together their "innside strength". Armed with new songs and arrangements by Einar Peterson and Ed Waesche they began rehearsing EVERYDAY and even worked on a high school stage for every rehearsal three weeks prior to the big contest. In San Francisco they found a small church auditorium to work in away from the crowds. They knew the job they had to do and decided to forgo the "conventioning" in order to win the contest.

That's not to say they didn't have fun that week. The excitement of singing three sets on the International contest stage with thousands cheering you on and then finally winning the top prize in barbershopping must be considered the ultimate thrill.

On returning home several chapters wanted the new champs to appear on their annual show. Some of the lucky Southwestern District chapters were San Antonio, Houston, Lake Charles, and Sabine Area. In addition they appeared on shows around the country and several tours of England.

One highlight was the royal treatment they received in Salt Lake City by the demented Salt Flats quartet. Each member and spouse was given a beautiful suite at the hotel. It all seemed a bit too "normal" until they found four bottles of "welcome to Salt Lake City" champagne iced down in the toilet.

They were the headliners for the next International Mid-winter convention held in Orlando, FL. One could have asked them in San Francisco.. “You just won the International quartet championship . . . what are you gonna do now?" And they could have answered. . . "We're Goin' To Disneyworld!!!!" . . . cause they did.

During this time they continued to rehearse twice a week and learn new songs. That led to their second record album in late 1977 called On Top Of The World. It included Runnin' Wild, Ten Girls Ago and a favorite show tune, Dangerous Dan McGrew. They also recorded one side of an album for the society entitled Best Of Berlin (1978) highlighting the songs of Irving Berlin.

Two other recordings were also released, The Way We Were (with Sikorsky - late 1980), and Till We Meet Again (with Litman and Erickson - 1982). Each of their records included a fine balance of uptunes, ballads and novelty songs which is one of the reason they're still favorites of any collection.

Also in 1977 they traveled to Lubbock to tape a special TV show. It was entitled "That Old Barbershop Style", produced by Grady Kerr and syndicated for use around the country. Many chapters used the tape to promote the Society on their local TV stations.

They appeared the next year as outgoing champs at the International and as their swan song sang their "Swan-nee" Parody (customized from the OK 4's act). It was the story of the ugly duckling (pun intended) and perhaps somewhat auto-biographical. They had always considered themselves "four average barbershoppers" with only moderate musical backgrounds and only able to win it all with lots of helps from coaches and lots of hard work.

Over the next ten years the Innsiders would evolve through three tenors, Jim Sikorsky (1979), Ken Litman (1980), and Lloyd Erickson (1982). At a reunion of the "Innsiders Alumni Association” in 1982 it was figured that the history of the Innsiders covered nine different versions of the quartet and 13 members.

Their last show was in Berlin following the Salt Lake City convention in 1986 where they performed during a week long tour of Germany. The championship version last sang together for a Houston chapter installation banquet in the late 90’s.

Tom went on to sing in quartets and won another district quartet championship with the Inns 'N' Outts in 1985. He won the Senior Quartet gold in 2005 with Texoma Sound.

John has directed the Tidelanders to a total of four district championship but is now retired from waving his arms. His quartet, The Main Event, won the district quartet championship in 1988.

Guy has moved to Bryan, TX sang with the Bryan/College Station chapter along with his old friend Dennis Driscoll. He was also a member of the Inns 'N' Outts when they won the top district prize in 1985. Guy was also an active member of the Fort Worth Texas Millionaires directed by his son Phil.

Mike has been active in chapter and quartet activities in Beaverton, Oregon but has moved back to Texas in recent years.

Brochure highlighting the Innsiders

The Innsiders Alumni Association 1968 - 1986

Tenor Lead Baritone Bass
November 1968 Johnny Wiggs John Devine Guy McShan Dick Oury
February 1969 Johnny Wiggs John Devine Dick Oury Ken Pacetti
May 1969 Johnny Wiggs John Devine John Grosnick Jeff McNeeley
April 1971 Charlie Melton John Devine Guy McShan Jeff McNeeley
September 1971 Johnny Wiggs John Devine Guy McShan Tom Pearson
October 1971 Mike Cox John Devine Guy McShan Tom Pearson
April 1979 Jim Sikorski John Devine Guy McShan Tom Pearson
August 1980 Ken Litman John Devine Guy McShan Tom Pearson
February 1982 Lloyd Erickson John Devine Guy McShan Tom Pearson

External Links


Barbershop Harmony Society - International Quartet Champions
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  1. http://www.discogs.com/Innsiders-The-Inside-Out/release/6704800
  2. http://www.discogs.com/Innsiders-The-Innsiders-On-Top-Of-The-World/release/6707514