Stamps Melody Boys
Stamps Melody Boys (1932-1947) (AKA Stamps-Baxter Melody Boys)
The Stamps Melody Boys were part of the Stamps-Baxter company and were sometimes alternately billed as the Stamps-Baxter Melody Boys.
Stamps-Baxter employee and a member of the Original 1927 Stamps All Star Quartet, Odis Echols, played a prominent role in the origination and the development of the Stamps Melody Boys. The main function of this group like other Stamps quartets was to sell song books. They were headquartered in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Original group members included Pat Lindsey, Ernest Lindsey, E.T. Burgess, and Andy Hughes. By 1933, future Rangers Quartet and Statesmen tenor Denver Crumpler had joined the group to sing the tenor part and to provide musical accompaniment with his guitar. They were billed as harmony singers with mirth and melody.
The mirth became a hard sell as the Great Depression continued. In early 1934, the Stamps Melody Boys relocated to Clovis, New Mexico. On April 15, 1934, a massive dust storm moving 100 miles per hour slammed into the Midwest. Crops were buried, causing many families to migrate, some to California. There was little money to spend on radio singers and 1934 song books. The Melody Boys went on KGRS Radio in Amarillo, Texas. Like the plains farmers, the Stamps Melody Boys would burn out in the area and migrate ultimately to Hot Springs, Arkansas in 1937 where they began singing on KTHS radio.
After Denver Crumpler left around 1937 before joining the Rangers Quartet in 1938, another future member of the Rangers and the Statesmen, Doy Ott, joined the Stamps Melody Boys to play piano. Other members at that time were tenor Vernon Bright, lead Ernest Lindsey, long time Stamps-Baxter singer and teacher, Odis Echols singing baritone, and future Blackwood Brothers bass, Don Smith.
Smilin' Joe Roper joined the Stamps Melody Boys in 1940. Other members in 1940 were Vernon Bright, tenor; Victor Bright, lead; Ernest Lindsey, baritone; and Clyde Roach, bass. V. O. Stamps sent Roach to work in Dallas and moved bass Herschel Foshee to manage the Stamps-Baxter Melody Boys as they began a long tenure with KARK radio in Little Rock. Their musical offerings continued to be both gospel and popular music.
World War II wreaked havoc on many quartets, and the Stamps-Baxter Melody Boys were no exception. They had multiple changes in personnel on KARK during the period of 1940-1947.
Other Melody Boys Groups
There were several musical groups of various genres that used the Melody Boys name prior to 1932 when the Stamps-Baxter Music Company began using the name.
During the early 1940s, Odis Echols operated another Melody Boys Quartet in Louisville, Kentucky which included Vernon and Victor Bright and Doug Jones. Odis Echols eventually left the Stamps-Baxter organization to join and become a part owner of the Hartford Music Company. For a number of years, Echols operated a quartet known as Odis Echols and his Hartford Melody Boys which included Doy Ott and Vernon Bright in 1944 as well as future Rangers and Lefevres member, Jimmy Jones. See Odis Echols And His Melody Boys for more information on these groups.
Frank Stamps, who split from Stamps-Baxter in 1945 and formed his own Stamps Quartet Music Company had several quartets on his roster, one of which was called the Stamps Melody Boys. They operated for a while on KLRA radio in Little Rock. Members in 1949 included Jack Pittman, Richard Smith, Clarence Heidelberg, Doug Jones, and Reece Crockett.
After the death of Herschel Foshee in 1949, the members of Hershel Foshee & His Stamps-Baxter Quartet were re-branded Joe Roper & The Melody Boys Quartet. Gerald Williams was hired at the age of 16 to replace Foshee and later managed the group into the 21st century. See Melody Boys Quartet for more information.