The Vogues (Inducted 2001)
Originally known as the Val-Aires, this quartet from Turtle Creek, Pennsylvania, turned out some tasty early ‘60s pop rock and some late sixties M.O.R. Bill Burkette (lead), Charles “Chuck” Blasko (tenor), Hugh Geyer (tenor), and Don Miller (baritone) were the four friends who became the Val-Aires in the late ‘50s.
They were transformed into the Vogues, a name change by Nick Cenci, the producer of their hits on Co & Ce records.
In 1965 (when all were 22) Elmer Willet brought a tape of songs by the Val-Aires to Nick Cenci. Liking their sound, Nick gave Elmer a song recorded by Petula Clark titled “You’re the One” The group then was brought into Gate way Studio’s to record it and was released on Nick’s Blue Star Label because of an infringement with another label “Blue Star”, the record label was changed to Co and Ce Records of Pittsburgh (Herb Cohen and Nick Cenci). After Nick got John Rook, P.D. of KQV to Pick the record..”You’re the One” (the first station to play the reoord) the song climbed to number four in the nation. It was the Vogues’ first chart record.
The group followed it with an English unison styled rocker “Five O’Clock World” (#4), and soon the Pennsylvania pop rockers were a hot commodity on the rock and roll stock exchange.
The Barry Mann / Cynthia Weil-penned “Magic Town” followed, charting in February 1966 to number 21. Next to chart was “The Land of Milk and Honey” (#29), and up-tempo rocker that fell somewhere between Gary Lewis and the Playboys and the Outsiders. Its flip, a Critters-styled cut called “Don’t Blame the Rain.”
Three more Co and Ce singles were issued but by 1967 interest in the group sound was waning. Their last Co and Ce release, “Lovers of the World Unite,” was licensed to MGM but failed. The group then leased by Co & Ce to Reprise Records (distributed by Warner Bros.).
The Reprise single “Turn Around, Look at Me” (#7), originally a charter in 1961 for Glen Campbell, signalled a change to an M.O.R. LETTERMEN styled direction.
The Bobby Helms 1957 number seven hit “My Special Angel” followed and reached number seven for the Vogues on October 12, 1968.
The group continued to chart through 1969 with remakes like “Till” (THE ANGELS, #14, 1962), which reached number 27, and “Earth Angel” (THE PENGUINS, #8, 1955) at number 42.
A Dick Glasser-produced, fully orchestrated single of Leonard Cohen’s “Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye” might have been a hit had it not been on the flip side of the Vogues’ best Reprise A side of “Over the Rainbow,” a stunning single that was overlooked by radio programmers preoccupied with Blood, Sweat and Tears, Steppenwolf, and Led Zeppelin.
The group’s last Reprise single was THE SKYLINERS’ 1959 hit (#12) “Since I Don’t Have You.” They continued to perform through the ‘70s as a self-contained vocal/instrumental band.
~Jay Warner & Nick Cenci
— Jason Ankeny
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