The Freshmen had their first hit single in 1952 with “It's a Blue World,” followed by other hits such as “Poinciana” (1953), “Mood Indigo” (1954), “Day by Day” (1955) and “Graduation Day” (1956).
With the advent of rock 'n' roll and the onslaught of the British Invasion, the quartet's string of hits eventually played out, but they've continued to record and tour ever since, the lineup changing and rearranging many times along the way.
But their sound remains the same, now with the current lineup of Ferreira on vocals and drums (20 years); Brian Eichenberger, lead singer, guitarist and chief arranger (16 years); Curtis Calderon, second tenor singer, trumpet, flugelhorn (new guy, 11 years); and Vince Johnson, baritone singer, bassist, whistler (12 years).
Founding member Flanagan himself was quoted as saying of this configuration: “This is the best Four Freshmen of all time.”
Flanagan and cousin Ross Barbour, the last two original members, both long retired from the group, died within two months of each other last year. The name Four Freshmen is now owned by Flanagan's widow, Mary, and the current members.
In celebration of its approaching 65th anniversary, the band has released a new album, “Love Songs,” and is on the extensive tour that will bring it here at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
“We incorporate education into our shows or around our shows,” Ferreira said. “At Oklahoma City Community College we're actually having a master class that afternoon before the show, from 3 to 4 o'clock. And it's open to the public and everybody can come and we'll basically answer questions about the group or about musical questions, all kinds of stuff having to deal with life on the road or the musical aspects.”
One could even hope that Brian Wilson might show up, but that chance is pretty slim.
Still, Ferreira says, “Brian Wilson always mentions the Four Freshmen whenever he does an interview, whenever he does anything about how heavily influenced he was by this sound and how passionate he is about the sound. He'll come to see us at a show, or beforehand he'll come back to the dressing room and he'll sit and he'll say, ‘Can you sing the beginning of “Little Girl Blue?”' I love that. Or he'll say, ‘Can I sing it with you guys? Can I sing the bass part?' And we're like, ‘Sure, have at it,' you know?”
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The Four Freshmen
When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Where: Oklahoma City Community College Theatre, 7777 S May Ave.
Information: 682-7579; occc.edu/cas/