Tenor: Wendell Heiny
Lead: Deane Watson
Bass: Dick Gifford
Bari: Dwight Elliott
In 1934, members of the Blackburn-Shaw Quartet, sponsored by a funeral home in Amarillo, TX, were paid a dollar each for singing at funerals or on the firm’s Sunday radio program. Tenor Wendell Heiny joined the quartet in 1935 and was soon working full-time in the funeral business.
The quartet stayed together until World War II when three members went into the service. Heiny, along with lead Paul Ellis and bass Willard Grantham came home from the service in 1946 and started looking for a baritone. They found Dwight Elliott and in 1947 won a quartet contest sponsored by the American Legion. Two years later, Grantham dropped out of the group and was replaced by Jim Bob Nance.
A chapter of SPEBSQSA was started in Amarillo in cialis professional online 1948 and the Blackburn-Shaw Quartet became members. They entered international competition in Omaha in 1950 and began receiving invitations to be on chapter shows.
Because the name Blackburn-Shaw didn’t mean anything outside of Amarillo, the four men began thinking about a name change. They incorporated a funeral director routine in their act and became the Four Hearsemen, walking on stage carrying an imaginary casket. Paul Ellis withdrew from the quartet in 1951 and Al Autrey replaced him as lead.
In 1952 the Four Hearsemen were semifinalists at the international contest in Kansas City, but more personnel changes were in store. Autrey moved to Austin, TX and Nance entered a new business that made it impossible for him to participate. Survivors Elliott and Heiny “dug up” a new lead, Deane Watson, and a new bass, Dick Gifford. Nance continued to write arrangements for the quartet; he knew their voice ranges and routines.
In 1953 the Hearsemen were second in international competition. They won the Southwestern District Championship in 1954 and the following year became international champions at the convention held in Miami, FL