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J.JD Sumner And The Stamps Quartet


JD Sumner & The Stamps Quartet, 1990

Group Members

Alto
Sandra Steele (1978-1979)
Jennifer O’Brien (1979-1980)

Tenor
Jim Hill (1965-1968)
Roy McNeal (1968-1970)
Gary Buck (1970-1971)
Bill Baize (1971-1976)
Ron Booth (1976)
Pat Brown (1976)
Gary Buckles (1976-1978)
Steve Warren (1988-1989, 1991-1992)
Jerry Trammell (1989-1991)
Rick Strickland (1992-1998)

Lead
Mylon LeFevre (1964-1968)
Donnie Sumner (1965-1974)
Dave Rowland (1974)
Ed Enoch (1974-1980, 1990-1998) (Also sang baritone)
Richard Lee (1979-1980)
Jack Toney (1988-1990)

Baritone
Jimmy Blackwood (1965-1969)
Ed Enoch (1969-1974) (Also sang lead)
Ed Hill (1974-1979, 1988-1998)

Bass
J D Sumner (1965-1980, 1988-1998)
Richard Sterban (1970-1973)
Ed Wideman (1973)
Larry Strickland (1976)
Tommy Thompson (1990)

Piano
Chuck Ramsey (1965)
Tony Brown (1965-1972)
Linda Robinson (1972)
Nick Bruno (1972-1973)
Morris Willis (1973)
Ronnie Mabe (1973-1977)
Milton Smith (1977-1978
C J Almgren (1988-1995)
Jerry Kelso (1995-1998)

Drums
Billy Blackwood (1966-1969)

Guitar
Duke Dumas (1966-1972)
Tim Baty (1968-1969)
Doyle Dykes (1972-????)

Bass Guitar
David Hildreth (1969-1970)
Kenny Hicks (1970-1973)

Musician
David Ponder (1980)


(This version of the Stamps became the Plainsmen shortly after this photo was made.)

(1965-1980, 1988-1998)

History

Background

The Frank Stamps Quartet was launched around 1924, about the same time Frank's brother, V O Stamps, formed the V O Stamps School Of Music. In 1926, VO partnered with J R Baxter to form the Stamps Baxter Music And Printing Company. They became the most successful publishers of shape note hymn books in the United States. V O Stamps also formed a Stamps quartet of his own.

After V O Stamps’ death in 1940, Frank Stamps became J R Baxter’s partner and took over his brother’s duties in the company. Over the next couple of decades, numerous professional groups including the Blackwood Brothers, the John Daniel Quartet, the Dixie Four and dozens of others partnered with Stamps Baxter Music to sell songbooks. Groups were allowed to use “Stamps” or “Stamps-Baxter” as part of their own name, and the company also launched a number of groups with the Stamps name. The partnership lasted five years until Frank Stamps left his position with Stamps-Baxter and began a new company called Stamps Quartet Music Company.

The division did not bring about the end of the various quartets, however. The Stamps All Stars were promoted as the top group in the Stamps family, so any time a member would quit, the next best man was immediately moved into his place. Finally, the “All Star” designation was dropped and the group that had been the Stamps All Stars was billed simply as The Stamps Quartet. Frank Stamps decided to narrow his attention to publishing songbooks around 1950. The remaining group members recorded as the Stamps for a few years, but ultimately parted ways with the publishing company, changing their name to the Plainsmen in 1956.

First Rebirth (1962)

In the early 1960s, the Stamps Quartet was reborn, again as an outreach of the publishing company. Terry Blackwood, Smiling Joe Roper, Jerry Redd, Big Jim Waits, and Roger McDuff were members of the new Stamps around 1962.

James Blackwood and J D Sumner purchased the Stamps Quartet from Frank Stamps in the early 1960s. At that point, the group included Big John Hall, Jim Hill, and Mylon LeFevre. In 1965, J D and James Blackwood “swapped” bass singers; Sumner went to the Stamps and John Hall went to the Blackwood Brothers. Part of the deal also consisted of J D giving up his ownership of the Blackwood Brothers and James giving up his ownership of the Stamps. Jimmy Blackwood went to work for J D in the Stamps at the same time. Donnie Sumner became the piano player in 1966 and then moved to the lead slot when it opened up.

Working for the King (1971-1977)

As the 1970s rolled around, the Stamps saw a number of changes. Most notable was their launch into global stardom as the key backup group for Elvis Presley. During their years with Elvis and as long as JD Sumner owned the group in the years that followed, they were typically billed as JD Sumner & The Stamps Quartet. Bill Baize was soon singing tenor, and Ed Hill later came to the Stamps from the Prophets. The group had a second bass singer during the Elvis years. Sumner took on more of a feature role. Richard Sterban and Larry Strickland were two of the bass singers that sang with the Stamps. Toward the end of the 1970s, the Stamps used an alto for the top part rather than a tenor. These ladies were Sandra Steele and Jennifer O’Brien.

After Elvis’ death, the group was unstable with several members coming and going. JD and Hovie Lister hatched the idea for the Masters V in 1980. They had intended for it to be a part-time group, but it soon became permanent. Both the Stamps and the Statesmen names were dormant while JD and Hovie, joined by Jake Hess, James Blackwood, and Rosie Rozell, performed as the Masters V.

Second Rebirth (1988-1998)

After eight years with the Masters V, James Blackwood and Jake Hess exited and the underlying concept of that group was diluted. J D and Hovie carried on for a while with Shaun Nielsen, Jack Toney, and Ed Hill, but ultimately J D decided to revive the Stamps name. Warren returned to sing tenor while Toney and Hill remained with the group during the name change. Rick Strickland later replaced Warren on tenor and Jerry Kelso became the pianist. When J D Sumner passed away in 1998, the final members of the group were Sumner, Strickland, Ed Enoch, Hill, and Kelso. During the final years of the group, they toured the United States and Europe, appearing at numerous Elvis tribute events in addition to headlining on the gospel concert circuit.

Awards

GMA Hall Of Fame (1998)

Discography

Due to the large number of recordings by J D Sumner And The Stamps Quartet, the discography has been divided into separate pages by decade. Please click on the decade you wish to view.

JD Sumner And The Stamps Quartet 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s And Beyond

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