NEWTON — Classic trio The Lettermen bring their harmonious songs to The Newton Theatre on Friday, May 19, 2017 at 8 p.m.
Since 1958 The Lettermen have been entertaining audiences with their exquisite harmonies and soulful ballads. They will bring audiences back in time with hits like Shangri-La, Put Your Head On My Shoulder, Goin’ Out of My Head/Can’t Take My Eyes Off You and so many more.
The Lettermen name first appeared in February 1958 with Tony Butala, Mike Barnett and Talmadge Russell. Their sound was somewhere between the big band vocal groups such as the Mills Brothers, Four Freshmen and the early R&B rock groups such as the Ink Spots, Flamingos and the Platters.
Founding member Tony Butala began singing professionally at age seven in Sharon, PA. He moved to Hollywood to become a member of the famous Mitchell Boys Choir, with whom he appeared in such classic films as White Christmas, War of the Worlds, On Moonlight Bay, and was the voice of one of the Lost Boys in the classic Walt Disney animated film Peter Pan.
In the mid-fifties, while attending Hollywood Professional High School, Butala formed The Fourmost, a vocal group of three ex-Mitchell Boy Choir friends and a female classmate, Concetta Ingolia, when after her departure for a new TV series, using stage name Connie Stevens, The Lettermen were born.
In 1960, The Lettermen released their debut singles: Their Hearts Were Full of Spring and The Magic Sound. In 1961 they were signed to Capitol Records and remained with them for over twenty-five years. For their first single they put a ballad on the B-side of That’s My Desire, a doo-wop song. Soft, melodic and romantic, The Way You Look Tonight was a departure from the rock ‘n’ roll music of the day and became a must for disc jockey play lists nationwide. The song shot to #13 on the Billboard chart. The group’s second single did even better, When I Fall In Love hit #7, establishing The Lettermen as the most romantic singing group of the sixties. The Lettermen’s debut album, A Song for Young Love, hit the Top 10, their first of 32 straight Top 40 Albums.
In almost every poll, The Lettermen were named Best New Group or Best Vocal Group. The ’60’s and early ’70’s saw The Lettermen score over 25 chart hit singles, including Theme From A Summer Place, Goin’ Out of My Head/Can’t Take My Eyes Off You, and also Hurt So Bad. Their signature sound made romantic standards of songs such as Smile, Put Your Head On My Shoulder, Shangri-La, Love, Traces/Memories and many more.
Over its 50 years, the trio has gone through a few personnel changes, with original and founding member Butala, whose breathy vocals were the lead on most of The Lettermen’s many hit records, remaining since the beginning. Donovan Tea has been a continuous member of The Lettermen since he joined the group in September of 1984, making him the next longest tenured Letterman. Bobby Poynton has been a member since 1988.
Tony Butala is proud of the fact that his group has been part of Americana for over fifty-five years and that as long as there is a Lettermen group, they will be singing good, quality, and positive harmony music that the whole family can enjoy.
Tickets for The Lettermen range from $32.00 to $47.00. Purchase tickets by visiting www.thenewtontheatre.com or contact the Box Office at 973-383-3700.