Tenor: John Steinmetz
Lead: Jim Chinnock
Bass: Don Cahall
Bari: Don Lamont
The Four Teens originated in the Eau Claire, WI Chapter in September 1949. Three members – Jim Chinnock, lead; Don Lamont, baritone; and Gene Rehberg, bass, were high school students; the fourth, tenor John Steinmetz, had graduated the previous year.
On January 8, 1950 the four young men plus a friend, Mike Egan, enlisted in the Air Force. They had decided to try to keep the quartet together and enlist as a group. The five were sent to Lackland Air Force Base near San Antonio, Texas for boot camp. There, bass Gene was found to have a foot problem and was given a medical discharge.
It looked like curtains for the quartet. They were scheduled to appear on a show built around Bob Hope and on the night before the show they found a new bass, Don Cahall from Cincinnati. They sang on the show and came to the attention of Dr. Norman Rathert, who had served as the Society’s third international president in 1941. Rathert, from St. Louis, was helping one of the generals at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois stage shows for military entertainment. At Rathert’s request the Four Teens were assigned to Special Services at Scott, making it possible for them to rehearse six to eight hours each day.
The quartet entered the Central States District contest in 1951 as representatives of the St. Louis Chapter, and won. Requests began for performances on chapter shows and at other Air Force bases. In June 1952, the four were crowned Society champions in Kansas City.
They were the second successive quartet to win its first international contest and the youngest quartet ever to reach the top spot; Chinnock was 19 and the other three were 20. As military personnel, the quartet would not ordinarily have been allowed to leave to appear on chapter shows. However, an agreement was reached between the Air Force and the Society to allow bookings on chapter and military shows, with arrangements to be handled by the quartet’s ” business agent, bodyguard, nursemaid, and general factotum,” Mike Egan.
After their championship year, the Four Teens toured military posts throughout the world with an all-Air Force show called Tops in Blue. They also made an appearance on Arthur Godfrey’s television show. All four quartet members were discharged in 1955.