Tenor: Curt Hutchison
Lead: Larry Wilson
Bass: Terry Heltne
Bari: George Davidson
The story of the 1982 International Quartet Champion Classic Collection is pretty unique in many respects.
It all began in Hastings Nebraska in 1968. Original baritone, and long-time barbershop enthusiast, “Papa Joe” Heltne, and his son Terry invited two aspiring singers, one a natural tenor and the other an operatic vocal major from the Hastings College choir, to join them for an evening of singing. Before it was over, Larry Wilson, a lead, and Curt Hutchison, a tenor, agreed that this foursome, originally called “Three Lads and a Dad,” should stay together. They worked hard and rose in the ranks of the Central States District. After a short hiatus due to Larry’s four year stint in the Navy, they changed their name to “Classic Collection”, and eventually found themselves the winners of the 1975 Central States District Quartet Championship.
A Unique “Transplant” to Colorado
Greater economic opportunities in nearby Denver, Colorado would beckon the three younger men in October of 1975. All three eventually moved from Hastings to Denver and soon found themselves members of the Denver Mile-Hi barbershop chapter. From previous Central States District quartet contests, they were already acquainted with young tenor, George Davidson. Over the next months, they became good friends as George made the necessary adjustments to learn to sing a “mean” baritone, filling in for the “woodshedding” trio, itching to “bust one” after chapter meetings. Eventually the distance and an unfortunate bout with cancer made it necessary for Joe (who was still living in Hastings) to retire. With his unqualified blessing, George replaced the ailing Papa Joe in October, 1976. Thus began another unique chapter in the history of their barbershop lives.
A Unique “Double” Quartet Championship
In 1977 Classic Collection won another district contest and became the first quartet champion of the newly created Rocky Mountain District. By achieving the fledgling district’s highest honor at its very first convention, they became the ONLY Society quartet ever to have captured the championship in TWO different districts.
Unique Dedication and Perseverance Pays Off
Harkening back to their early quartet days, this hardworking, conscientious quartet strived each year to hone their skills, and dramatically improve their scores. After 6 years on the International contest stage, (rising through the ranks that started at 32nd place in 1976) they had stuck with it long enough and worked hard enough to realize their dream. In 1982 they achieved the coveted gold medal and lifetime honor of International Quartet Champion.
A Unique Record Breaking Win
They won the contest in GRAND style. They earned the largest winning margin (296 points) in the 43 year history of the competition — a proud mark that stood another 11 years (until 1993 when the Gas House Gang’s margin of victory was 5 points greater — 301 pts.).
A Unique Standard of Longevity
Not willing to rest on their laurels, the quartet’s unique style and sound , extraordinary musicianship, outstanding arrangements, showmanship and solid reputation for being not only committed Barbershoppers, but four great guys carried them through one of the longest active and uninterrupted singing careers of any international champion. With a very active schedule, they went on to thrill audiences around the US, Canada and Europe from 1982 to 2003, without stopping.
2007 not only marked their 25th anniversary of winning the gold medal but their 31st anniversary as a quartet – with the same personnel.
A Unique Friendship
While many of today’s quartets must travel across the country and even across national borders to get together – during the heyday of the Classic Collection they all lived within a 10 minute drive of each other in the Denver area. The Classic Collection has truly become a band of brothers in their time together.
Not only have they made great music and captivated many audiences worldwide, they very naturally have become best friends. Although recently, opportunities have spread them geographically apart and into other parts of Colorado and neighboring states, these four guys still get together whenever there is an opportunity, much to the delight of their audiences, friends and family. Not surprisingly, the “magic” is still there.
The Quartet Today — Where Are They Now?
Terry, George and Curt still live in the Denver area. George, the baritone, retired after 34 years with the premier Denver area school district. Curt, tenor, retired from a long and distinguished career as an insurance underwriter. Larry now lives and works in Phoenix Arizona.
Their friendship and legacy lives on in current Society and Sweet Adeline contests with many of their arrangements sung still to this day on the International stage. Their sweet harmony, commitment to the craft and incredible personality not only as a quartet, but as individuals, may never be matched.