Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day 07/20/2019

Four singers who met in high school in Pennsylvania and started singing together in 1958 recorded a record as the Val-Aires in 1959. The record did little for anyone who was involved, and the group disintegrated as they moved on to college or a stint in the Army.

Several years on, the four pitched in $100 each and recorded a demo tape. The tape included a cover of a song on Petula Clark’s latest album, You’re The One. The group pressed their own records and convinced a local radio station to play it. The local reaction was enough for a small record company (Co & Ce) to buy up the rights to distribute the record…after changing the name of the group to the Vogues.

That single and their next single (Five O’Clock World) each got into the top five nationally in 1965. The group’s third single in 1966 did not fare quite as well: Magic Town only got as high as #21. Scoring three hit records in a row was enough that the members of the group quit their day jobs and did their best to take their success on the road.

While the Vogues did eventually appear on a number of television shows (including American Bandstand) I was unable to find a live performance of Magic Town from the sixties (you can find the details on why we can’t see their performances on shows like the Tonight Show and Red Skelton in the chapter entitled The Other Day the Music Died in my bookResisting the Challenges of the 21st Century: How Much Extra Does No Cheese Cost?)

The next two singles were not hit records, but in 1966 the group scored two more top ten records. By 1971 the group’s hits were all behind them and one by one other members left the group and got replaced.

In the early seventies, a strange thing happened to the Vogues. The group’s manager trademarked the group’s name and offered to sell it back to the group in 1974. When they refused, he responded by selling the trademark to another promoter. That person created a new group of “Vogues” and booked them at events across the country. The trademark then got sold one or more times, and multiple groups of “Vogues” were performing nationally even though none of them had members of the original group.

One member of the original Vogues, Bill Blasko, sued over the rights to the group’s name in 1975. While he was not totally successful, he did win the right to use the trademarked name in 14 Western Pennsylvania counties. He recruited additional singers to fill in the group, including a second original member (Hugh Guyer). Bill and Hugh sang together in Bill’s Vogues for a few years, and eventually, each of them sang with a group operating under the trademark as well. Hugh eventually retired from singing in 2012 and Bill died in 2018. All the original Vogues have died or retired, but a number of people who have toured as Vogues in the past and other singers they have recruited continue to perform and keep the memory of the music alive.

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