Tenor: Don Barnick
Lead: Hank Brandt
Bass: John Miller
Bari: Jay Giallombardo
In the summer of 1968 a high school quartet from Wilmette and Glencoe, IL rode a Greyhound bus to Cincinnati, checked into the “Y,” sat in the back row at the international contest and listened in awe as quartets like the Western Continentals, Mark IV, and Golden Staters won the top medals. They had recently named the quartet, and 11 years later, when three of the original four ran onstage in Minneapolis to claim their own gold medals, it still bore the name Grandma’s Boys.
Jay Giallombardo (bari), Hank Brandt (lead), John Miller (bass), and Jeff Calhoun (tenor) were singing in three different high school quartets when they first got together in the spring of 1968.
Their determination to stick together was rigorously tested over the next few years. John and Jay went off to college (in Peoria and Kansas, respectively); a year later Hank and Jeff enrolled in Dartmouth in New Hampshire, spreading the quartet over 1,500 miles. Somehow they continued to rehearse and give shows (usually at the same time, Hank later admitted).
Then Jeff moved to Denver and was replaced by Jim Sikorski, and the quartet jumped from 10th place in international competition in 1974 to 3rd place in 1975. But Jim had to drop out, and Mac Huff, then a Society music man, recommended Don Barnick of Cleveland. After only a few weeks of rehearsals with a new tenor, Grandma’s Boys placed sixth in the next year’s contest. The combination proved the right one, however; in 1978 the quartet won the silver medals, and in ’79 they walked offstage with the Landino Trophy and title of International Champions.