The Four Freshmen were the group that Brian Wilson wanted to be in when he was growing up, and hold a unique place in the evolution of popular music in the fifties and sixties.So the passing of Four Freshmen tenor and multi-instrumentalist Bob Flanigan is a very notable death notice indeed.
The AP reports that Flanigan died at the age of 84 at his Las Vegas home, according to a manager of the group. He suffered a congestive heart failure.
The sole surviving member of the group, Ross Barbour, said, “Flanigan’s voice was indestructible… He could drive all day and all night without stopping between gigs, and when our voices were on the edge Bob was still in full form.”
Flanigan formed the Four Freshmen in 1948 with Ross Barbour and Don Barbour (who died in a car accident in 1961) while attending Butler University in Indiana.
They went on to be a hugely influential vocal ensemble over the course of the next decade or so, releasing over 50 albums and 70 singles. Arguably more significantly, Brian Wilson credited the Four Freshmen with changing his life. He raves about them in his autobiography, Wouldn’t It Be Nice.
Here is a clip of the Four Freshmen at the height of their powers:
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