Classics IV, (Classics Four,) or (Classics 4)
Classics IV Featuring Dennis Yost
Dennis Yost & Classics IV
Dennis Yost & The Classics IV
Detroit-born, Florida-raised, Dennis Yost came from a Jacksonville-area band called The Echoes. He was just old enough to remember '50s R&B when it was current. In addition to playing the drums, he liked to sing '50s numbers like The Five Satins'1 "In the Still of the Night."2 After The Echoes broke up in the mid-'60s, Yost joined a band called Leroy & the Moments, which included Wally Eaton (bass, vocals), James "J.R." Cobb, Jr. (guitar), and Joe Wilson (keyboards). His arrival, along with the changing times, also signaled a change in the group's name, as there was no longer a Leroy anyway, that could go, and the name, The Moments, was already taken, so, they named themselves after Yost's Classic-model drum set, and they became The Classics, at least for a short time.
Although they're considered a late-'60s phenomenon, owing to the chronology of their hits, the group can trace its roots back to R&B harmony, such as the doo wop music of the late '50s.
Their sound was extremely diverse by all accounts, they could cover3 most of Billboard Magazine's4 Top 405 note-for-note, which was ideal for audiences in Jacksonville but didn't necessarily give them much to work with as a recording act.
Part of their act included a tribute to The Four Seasons,6 who were still burning up the charts in those days. They were a lot alike in that both groups could sing anything and were also a virtually self-contained unit instrumentally.
When The Classics signed with Capitol Records in 1966, they made their debut with a song called "Pollyanna."7 The single was virtually a faux-Four Seasons record in style and sound, but it was just different and fresh enough that it might have done well, except for the fact that management of the actual Four Seasons took offense, and did their best to keep "Pollyanna"'s presence to a minimum on the New York airwaves. To top it off, the group was threatened with legal action by a Brooklyn-based vocal outfit already named The Classics,8a8b who had already charted a couple of singles, most notably a cover of "Blue Moon,"9 originally recorded as a ballad in 1949 by Mel Tormé,10 and popularized as a pop hit again in 1961, by The Marcels.11a11b
Thus, Florida's The Classics became Classics IV, and for all of that trouble, "Pollyanna" fizzled at #103 on the Billboard charts.
In January of 1967, they released a remake of The Diamonds'12 1950s hit, "Little Darlin'."13 Unfortunately, the timing wasn't right -- by this time oldie tunes were not in favor. Ironically, two years or so later, with the nostalgia craze starting to kick in, that might have been another story. The record was actually more important for its B-side, "Nothing to Lose."14 On it Cobb and Yost shared the lead and sounded much like Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield of The Righteous Brothers15. While it didn't chart, it demonstrated their skill and the versatility of their voices.
By that time, the group had relocated to Atlanta. Their Capitol contract was over by the spring of 1967, and the following summer the group signed with Imperial Records, whose sound was more R&B. But Imperial was subsequently absorbed into Liberty Records.
In 1967 things started going the group's way. Buie and Cobb had heard and liked an instrumental entitled "Spooky" (a regional hit for saxophonist Mike Sharpe, aka: Mike Shapiro). They liked the music so Buie came up with words and Cobb came up with a new arrangement.
In September of 1967, the group released the song "Spooky,"16 with lyrics and it became their first national hit. Building slowly to a #3 (see note 5) on the "Hot 100" chart in the U.S., and #46 in the U.K., it sold over one million copies, and was awarded gold status by the RIAA.17
Cobb, along with Buie kept writing songs, and he occasionally arranged the group's music along with the official arranger, Emory Gordy. But, he gave up playing on-stage with the band, preferring the less draining life of a session guitarist, and was replaced in the lineup by Auburn Burrell. At the same time, Yost stepped up to the microphone full-time while Kim Venable took over on the drums. They were no longer, strictly speaking, the "Classics IV" not that it mattered much, as the band's lineup situation quickly got a lot more complicated.
As they were now a national-level act with an audience across a continent, it was decided by Buie and Imperial Records that there was no reason to limit themselves to the talents of the actual band members when it came to who performed on their records. In place of the regulars, apart from group alumnus Cobb, Classics IV's records soon began featuring some of Atlanta's top session musicians, among them drummer Robert Nix (who later performed with Lynyrd Skynyrd),18 while the touring membership included Dean Daughtry and Bill Gilmore on keyboards and bass, respectively, both members of the late Roy Orbison's19 band.
Despite all of these personnel shifts (not to mention a name change after they'd started recording), and armed with a bunch of Cobb/Buie songs, their 1968 debut album entitled Spooky, did fairly well. The only problem was that the sounds were too diverse, it was hard to pin down an identity for Classics IV.
Among top American groups, The Beach Boys,20 like Classics IV, relied on session musicians21 much of the time, but the difference was The Beach Boys always made sure Carl Wilson on guitar was there, and their voices were easily recognizable. Not so for Classics IV -- apart from Yost's singing, there wasn't a lot of unity in their sound and thus their next couple of singles, "Soul Train,"22 and "Mamas and Papas,"23 didn't do more than a fraction of the business done by "Spooky."
The group recorded a second LP, which failed to sell in any serious numbers, at least initially. One song from the album, entitled "Stormy,"24 was given a single release and suddenly in the fall of 1968, the group was back in the Top Five, with the song peaking at #5, and for the first time, they made the "Easy Listening" charts (see note 4).
In the winter of 1969 with "Traces,"25 another Cobb/Buie collaboration, this time with help from arranger Emory Gordy, made it all the way #2 on the Billboard "Hot 100" chart (see note 5).
At this point their singles, although they still made the "Pop" charts, were starting to place higher numbers on the "Easy Listening" charts. One example is the mid-1969 song, "Everyday with You Girl,"26 which reached #19 as a "Pop" single and #12 on the "Easy Listening" scene (see note 4).
Continuing to add to the confusion, in the new decade, the group changed its name so that they were now officially known Dennis Yost & The Classics IV. And in between official names, many of the songs were billed as Classics IV featuring Dennis Yost or The Classics IV featuring Dennis Yost.27
Their chart action declined throughout 1971 amid the changing tastes of the public, and the reorganization of their record label, Liberty Records, which merged with United Artists, and who made the environment in the studio inhospitable for the group.
Dennis Yost & The Classics IV shifted to MGM Records in 1972, and lasted through one album and a last pop hit, with "What Am I Crying For,"28 along with a string of attempts through 1975.
By that time, Cobb, Daughtry, and Buie had split off to form The Atlanta Rhythm Section (often referred to as just ARS).29 Also, Dennis Yost went solo, or tried to. Meanwhile, their ex-studio band, as The Atlanta Rhythm Section , enjoyed a new hit with a cover (see note 3) of "Spooky"30 in 1979, while Santana31 returned "Stormy"32 to the charts.
In time, Yost became a fixture on the oldies circuit alongside his one-time Imperial label-mate, Gary Lewis,33 and other denizens of the mid-'60s singles charts. Yost also wrote songs and became a producer, plus he secured the exclusive rights to the group name, and continued to perform into the early 21st century.
Yost was credited as the creator of the "Southern Soft Rock" sound, and was known as "the singer's singer," and "The Classic One" because of his smooth, unique voice. He was described as singing "with a tear in his voice."
Yost was inducted into The Georgia Music Hall of Fame34 in 1993, an honor he coveted most, because Ray Charles,35 his favorite singer, was inducted a few years before.
He continued to perform with Classics IV for the next thirty years. During the 1990s the lineup included Steve "Stevie G." Guettler (guitar and vocals), Jeff "JT" Strickler (bass guitar and vocals), Steve Farrell (guitar and vocals), Mike Wilson (keyboards and vocals) and Wes Armstrong (drums and vocals).
From 2000 to 2005 the lineup included Tom Vale (saxophone and vocals), Bill Johnson (keyboards), Brian Correll (guitar and vocals), Doug Reed (drums), and during 2005, Don Martin (bass), and Perry Williams (keyboards and sax.)
The final concert of Dennis Yost & The Classics IV was at Chenay Bay, St. Croix, Virgin Islands, on September 24, 2005.
On July 11, 2006, Yost fell down a flight of stairs and suffered a serious brain trauma. To assist Yost and his wife with their medical bills, a benefit concert was held on March 25, 2007, at Rhino's Live in Cincinnati, Ohio. The benefit was originally conceived by Yost's close friend Jon "Bowser" Bauman, former vocalist with Sha Na Na.36
Many musical entertainers and some surprise guests from the 1950s through the 1970s performed some of their biggest chart-topping hits in tribute to Yost. Some of the artists performing that day were Denny Laine from The Moody Blues37 and Chuck Negron previously of Three Dog Night,38 Ian Mitchell from Bay City Rollers,39 Pat Upton of Spiral Starecase,40 "Diamond" Dave Somerville from The Skyliners,41 Mark Vollman of The Turtles,42 & Classics IV guitarist Brian Correll. The concert was a huge boost for Yost to visit with so many old friends.
After Dennis' accident he chose his good friend, Tom Garrett,43 to replace him as lead singer for Classics IV. The plan was for Dennis to make a few yearly special appearances, and gradually have Tom take over as the leader of the band. However, his injuries were more extensive than he originally thought and Dennis was able to perform with them for only one appearance in 2008.
Before he died Yost and Garrett , worked closely together to develop the current line-up. The band Dennis chose, and one that continues with the Classics IV latest lineup is: Tom Garrett (lead vocals), Kevin Lloyd (bass guitar), Tim Ridgeway (drums), Joe Sadler (guitar), Garard Motague III (sax & flute) and James Yoder (keyboards).
Dennis Yost died at the age of 65, on December 7, 2008.
Dennis Yost & Classics IV, The - Song
1.Where Did All The Good Times Go (02:35)
2.Nobody Loves You But Me (03:18)
3.God Knows I Loved Her (03:06)
4.The Funniest Thing (02:42)
5.Ain't It The Truth (03:51)
6.Pick Up The Pieces (03:12)
7.Cherryhill Park (03:16)
8.We Miss You (02:24)
9.Most Of All (03:09)
10.The Comic (02:22)
1968 / Spooky / Imperial Records #12371[M] / Released in Mono. Has a stock label inside stereo cover with white "Monaural" sticker attached.
1968 / Spooky / Imperial Records #12371[S] / Released in Stereo.
1969 / Mamas and Papas/Soul Train / Imperial Records #12407 / - .
1969 / Traces / Imperial Records #12429 / Released as CLASSICS IV featuring DENNIS YOST even though this was right about the time they started billing themselves as Dennis Yost & The Classics IV.
1969 / Dennis Yost & The Classics IV - Golden Greats, Volume 1 / Imperial Records #16000 / - .
1970 / Song / Imperial Records #11003 / - .
1973 / Dennis Yost & The Classics IV / MGM South Records #702 / - .
1975 / The Very Best of The Classics IV / United Artists Records #UA-LA446-E / - .
1981 / Stormy / Accord Records #SN-7107 / - .
1988 / The Very Best of The Classics IV / Liberty Records #LN-10109 / - .
1973 Featuring, "What Am I Crying For," "Rosanna," and "Make Me Believe It" / MGM South Records #MSH-702 / Billed as DENNIS YOST & THE CLASSICS IV.
1988 Lil' Bit of Gold featuring, "Spooky," "Traces," "Everyday With You Girl," and "Stormy" / Rhino Records #R3-73004 / Rare, gold-colored, 3-inch CD, billed as CLASSICS IV featuring DENNIS YOST.
1990 / The Very Best of Classics IV / Capitol Records #91472.
1992 / The Greatest Hits / EMI Special Products #57402.
2002 / Best Of Dennis Yost & The Classics IV / Taragon Records #1091.
2011 / A New Horizon / Classics IV Records, available in CD and digital download formats. This is the group’s first album in 20 years.
* 2004 / "Spooky" was featured in the soundtrack of and episode of Six Feet Under an HBO television series.
Recording Date+ / Song Title A-side / Song Title B-side / Label & Catalog # (see note 46) / Release Date+ / Pop Chart Position% / Comments.
As CLASSICS IV:
1964 / "Don't Make Me Wait" / "It's Too Late" / Arlen Records #746 / 1964 / - / - .
1966 / "Cry Baby" / "Pollyanna" / Capitol Records #5710 / 1966 / - / Credited to The Classics, before the group realized there was already another group going by that name.
1966 / "Little Darlin'" / "Nothing to Lose" / Capitol Records #5816 / 1966 / - / - .
1967 / "Spooky" / "Poor People" / Imperial Records #66259 / November 1967 / #3 / Distributed in the United States.
1967 / "Spooky" / "Poor People" / Liberty Records #LBF 15051 / November 1967 / #? / Distributed in the United Kingdom. I was unable to find the chart position on the UK's singles chart but that doesn't necessarily mean it didn't chart.
1968 / "Soul Train" / "Strange Changes" / Imperial Records #66293 / April 1968 / #90 / - .
1968 / "Mama's & Papa's" / "Waves" / Imperial Records #66304 / 1968 / - / - .
As CLASSICS IV FEATURING DENNIS YOST:
1968 / "Stormy" / "24 Hours of Loneliness" / Imperial Records #66328 / October 1968 / #5 / Distributed in the United States.
1968 / "Stormy" / "24 Hours of Loneliness" / Liberty Records #LBF 15177 / October 1968 / #? / Distributed in the United Kingdom. I was unable to find the chart position on the UK's singles chart but that doesn't necessarily mean it didn't chart.
1968 / "Stormy" / "Ladies Man" / Imperial Records #66328 / October 1968 / #5 / Above reissued but with a different song on the B-side. Rare.
1969 / "Traces"/"Mary, Mary Row Your Boat" / Imperial Records #66352 / January 1969 / #2 / - .
1969 / "Everyday With You Girl" / "Sentimental Lady" / Imperial Records #66378 / April 1969 / #19 / Distributed in the United States.
1969 / "Everyday With You Girl" / "Sentimental Lady" / Liberty Records #LBF 15231 / April 1969 / #? / Distributed in the United Kingdom. I was unable to find the chart position on the UK's singles chart but that doesn't necessarily mean it didn't chart.
As DENNIS YOST & THE CLASSICS IV:
1969 / "Change of Heart" / "Rainy Day" / Imperial Records #66393 / July 1969 / #49 / - .* 1969 / "Midnight" / "The Comic" / Imperial Records #66424 / October 1969 / #58 / - .
1970 / "The Funniest Thing" / "Nobody Loves You But Me" / Imperial Records #66439 / February 1970 / #59 / Distributed in the United States.
1970 / "The Funniest Thing" / "Nobody Loves You But Me" / Liberty Records #66439 / February 1970 / #? / Distributed in the United Kingdom. I was unable to find the chart position on the UK's singles chart but that doesn't necessarily mean it didn't chart.
1970 / "God Knows I Loved Her" / "We Miss You" / Liberty Records #56182 / 1970 / - / - .
1970 / "Where Did All the Good Times Go" / "Ain't It the Truth" / Liberty Records #56200 / September 1970 / #69 / - .
1971 / "Most of All" / "It's Time for Love" / United Artists Records #50777 / 1971 / - / - .
1971 / "Cherry Hill Park" / "Pick Up the Pieces" / United Artists Records #50805 / 1971 / - / - .
1972 / "What Am I Crying For?" / "All in Your Mind" / MGM South Records #7002 / September 1972 / #39 / - .
1973 / "Rosanna" / "One Man Show" / MGM South Records #7012 / February 1973 / #95 / - .
1973 / "Save the Sunlight" / "Make Me Believe It" / MGM South Records #7016 / 1973 / - / - .
1973 / "I Knew It Would Happen" / "Love Me or Leave Me Alone" / MGM South Records #7020 / 1973 / - / - .
1973 / "Stormy" / "Spooky" / Capitol-United Artists Records #XW125 / Side 1-October 1968 / #5, Side 2-November 1967 / #3 / Reissued in stereo with two "A" sides on the Silver Spotlight Series.
1973 / "Traces" / "Everyday With You Girl" / Capitol-United Artists Records #X 125 / Side 1-January 1969 / #2, Side 2-April 1969 / #19 / Reissued in mono with two "A" sides on the Silver Spotlight Series.
1973 / "Traces" / "Everyday With You Girl" / Capitol-United Artists Records #XW125 / Side 1-January 1969 / #2, Side 2-April 1969 / #19 / Reissued in stereo with two "A" sides on the Silver Spotlight Series.
1974 / "It's Now Winter's Day" / "Losing My Mind" / MGM South Records #7027 / 1974 / - / -.
1975 / "My First Day Without Her" / "Lovin' Each Other" / MGM Records #14785 / March 1975 / #94 / -