The SPEBSQSA was born in Oklahoma, so it was no surprise when Oklahoma quartets captured the first three International (then national) crowns. But it would be 20 years after the Society's formation before the title returned to the Sooner state.
In 1958 in Columbus, Ohio, four Tulsa men called the Gaynotes won the gold medals as International Champions. They were Harold Jones, tenor; Howard Rinkel, lead; John Loots, bari, and Morris "Mo" Rector, bass. Howard and John had sung in a couple of earlier quartets, including one sponsored by an ice cream company which required that they perform at least twice a week.
When the Gaynotes formed in 1953, Larry Stayer was tenor and Dick Galloway the bass.
Dick soon moved away and was replaced by Mo, who had started singing with quartets in high school. This combination won the Southwestern District championship in 1956, but Larry was already planning to leave. The others contacted Harold Jones, a tenor in the Tulsa chorus, as a replacement. Although Harold had no quartet experience, he showed up at a rehearsal with a tape recorder, taped 13 songs and within two weeks had learned the tenor part to all of them.
It took the Gaynotes only two tries to win the gold; they placed third in 1957. They stayed together, with a two-year hiatus while Mo sang in a touring company of The Music Man, but disbanded when Mo moved to Texas in the mid-1960s.
- Tenor: Harold Jones
- Lead: Howard Rinkel
- Bari: John Loots
- Bass: Mo Rector
- Tenor: Larry Stayer
- Bass: Dick Galloway
- Tenor: Dale Radford
- Strictly Barbershop
- Strictly Square
- Strictly Swinging
written and researched by Grady Kerr
taken from Golden Memories - The History of the Southwestern District - pub 1996
As one of the most active and popular Society quartets, The Gaynotes set new standards for our champions and their influence is still being felt today.
The Gaynotes formed in 1954 in the Society’s birthplace, Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Lead Howard Rinkel and baritone John Loots joined forces with tenor Larry Stayer and bass Dick Galloway. The next year, a talented young bass with a crew cut, Mo Rector, joined the quartet. They were good from the very start .In their first contest they placed SECOND behind Albuquerque’s Lads of Enchantment who would soon win the International gold medals.
Early on, thanks to Mo Rector arrangements, they established a unique and entertaining repertoire and were very active becoming a very popular show quartet. By their second year they had already traveled 75,000 miles and performed for 250,000 people. They also became quite stage savvy. In 1956 everyone expected the Gaynotes to win the District crown . . . and they did!
Unfortunately, tenor Larry Stayer had already decided to retire from the very active quartet schedule. Up stepped Tulsa chapter member Harold Jones. He was a quick study. In only TWO weeks and after only ONE rehearsal, with the help his hand-held dictation tape recorder, Harold learned their 13-song repertoire and was ready for shows. This was his very FIRST and only quartet.
They soon qualified for their first International quartet contest. At the International convention in Los Angeles in 1957 they had lots of fans and surprised everyone, and perhaps even themselves, and placed THIRD. It was there they competed with one of their most popular and trademark songs, Bye, Bye, Blues.
The Gaynotes qualified for the 1958 International and began to prepare for the contest in earnest. An aggressive practice schedule played a major role. Although they had been performing once or twice a week over the previous few years, in the four months prior to the contest, they met almost every night.
They had outstanding coaching from Sweet Adeline champion and arranger, Nancy Bergman, Society field representative, Floyd Connett. They soon had a new confidence, a much fuller sound and a new stance – this unique stance soon became a Gaynotes trademark.
To travel first-class to the convention in Columbus by rail from Oklahoma City only took 24 hours and $76. By air, the first-class trip took four hours and $115. The quartet decided to drive the 967 miles. Along for the ride was a new barbershopper and young 16 year old Gaynotes fan named Brian Beck.
It was the young Society’s 20th year and we had just moved our headquarters to Harmony Hall in beautiful Kenosha, Wisconsin.
The June contest was held at the Columbus, Ohio’s Veterans Memorial Auditorium and the Gaynotes sang “Sunny Side Up”, “I Wish I Had a Girl”, “Last Night On the Back Porch”, “Can’t You Hear Me Calling, Caroline?”, “You Brought Ireland Right Over To Me” and “All American Girl”.
Harold was 32, Howard 31, John 37 and Mo only 24. They out sang four future champs to win the gold medals by about 300 points in only their SECOND International contest.
Just The Beginning
They continued their active show schedule with an average of two major shows a month. Neither rain, sleet or snow kept them from performing. In the quartet’s entire 12 year history they only missed ONE of their 1500 shows, and that was due to an illness.
The Gaynotes’ legacy as one of the all-time great quartets is preserved in the records they made. In addition to the songs recorded for Decca contest album, the quartet made their very own record. It was entitled Strictly Barbershop and was later released in the popular Chord Record Series. It included many of their fans’ favorites from their show package.
Having traveled over 500,000 miles to 37 states, they kept up a large repertoire, leaving the question, “Which songs should they put on their next recording?” Unable to choose, they made TWO albums. One was entitled Strictly Square. A few of the songs on this album were "stacked" stretching the quartet to 12 parts and becoming a mini-chorus. This was a first for a barbershop record.
The other album of the set was entitled Strictly Swinging. It featured more "modern" arrangements and instrumental tracks. Old friend Brian Beck wrote the tracks for the band, played the electric bass and led the back up group.
At seven dollars a “set”, they went through several pressings despite the Society’s refusal to accept Harmonizer advertising of a "non-barbershop recording".
In their history, the Gaynotes appear on a total of 10 albums performing 41 songs.
After 12 years The Gaynotes finally retired when Mo and his family relocated to Texas in December of 1966.
Where Are They Now?
Tragically, we lost John Loots on July 14, 1990 in an automobile accident in San Francisco following the International convention there. He was 69.
Mo Rector died December 6, 2003 in an automobile accident. He was 69.
Howard Rinkel is retired and still lives in Tulsa with his wife of 54 years, Jane.
Harold Jones is retired and also still lives in Tulsa with his wife of 63 years, Betty.