The Best Lineup that Never Was: Kingsmen

Every now and then, Quartet Fan, the anonymous occasional blogger at Southern Gospel Perspective, comes up with an excellent idea. My favorite to date has been his Twelve Days of Christmas series; I have, in fact, borrowed the idea myself.

Well, he came up with another great idea: He’s doing a “This Group’s Best” series, featuring the best singer at each vocal position throughout a group’s history. He’s done Gold City and the Kingsmen so far. I’d love to borrow the idea, but if I did it I suppose he’d (rightfully) accuse me of swooping in and snatching every good idea he has. So I’ll pass.

Instead, I’ll do something quite different. I will take eight groups, and pick one person at each position who has never sung with the group. I will name only current singers, and I won’t re-use any singers twice. My goal is to put together four singers who, if they sang together, would produce the sort of sound where an average listener would recognize them instantly as the group I suggest.

So let’s start with the Kingsmen. Here is the best Kingsmen lineup that never was:

Tenor: Eric Phillips
Lead: Phil Cross
Baritone: Dustin Sweatman
Bass: Randy Byrd

Phillips has an indisputably Kingsmen quality, in part because his father (along with Johnny Parrack) defined that quality in the 70s and 80s.

I had some difficulty in coming up with a lead singer with the right sound, but Phil Cross comes close enough.

When I thought of doing this series, Dustin Sweatman was the first person I settled on. He has a perfect voice quality for the kind of vocal energy demanded out of a baritone in the Kingsmen’s glory days. Just picture him doing, say, “Bound for the Land of Canaan,” in a baritone quality but ending on a high G or thereabouts, and you get the picture.

For the bass, Ray Dean Reese is synonymous with the Kingsmen, and I highly doubt they will last past his retirement. However, the bass currently touring the professional SG circuit with the closest voice quality is Randy Byrd. He would hit the Kingsmen classics out of the park, and sounds close enough to Reese to pull it off.


I’ll plan on posting about one lineup per week. Be looking for other favorite groups in the near future!

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22 Letters to the Editor

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  1. I like this idea too, Daniel. Also, feel free to “swoop” any time. I doubt out lists would be the same and it might make for an interesting contrast.

    Thanks for the links!

  2. Thanks for the permission, Quartet Fan! I might do just that one of these days.

  3. I doubt “our” lists …

    My brain got ahead of my fingers.

  4. No problem! I do that all the time.

    I could edit the first post for you if you like.

  5. No, that’s not necessary. My vanity is not quite that bad! 😀

  6. No problem! I just thought I’d offer. 🙂

  7. Has anybody heard Spoken 4 at NQC? They have an awesome patriotic type song they are doing.

  8. Now, to get back on topic:

    I like your choice for tenor, he’s almost a given.

    At bass, I think Christian Davis could have that “Ray Dean” sound.

    Lead is harder, I always think of Hamill and his showmanship and style for the Kingsmen. I could see McCray Dove pulling it off.

    At baritone, your choice is very good. Another good choice would be Scott Inman.

  9. Scott Inman would be a good parallel for their sound today; with Dustin, I was trying to get back to their 70s/80s sound, when they were (in my opinion) at their best.

    I would have considered McCray, except that I’ve already assigned him to another group later in the series where his style is needed even more. 🙂 The same goes for Christian Davis. 🙂

  10. I never really followed the Kingsmen but that looks like a good line up Daniel.

  11. It would be neat for someone at NQC to do something like this… get different groups of four guys to sing as a popular quartets like your rules. That would make one great concert, plus one awesome dvd/video!

  12. Yes, that would be incredibly neat!

  13. Daniel, I thought you liked Randy Byrd…likening him to Reese is not exactly flattering! 😛

  14. Byrd’s voice quality akin to Reese’s at his peak, when Reese wasn’t pushing the edges.

  15. For a man that has been singing for over 40yrs with the Kingsmen, and having kept the qroup together through thick and thin, Ray Reeses deserves much recognition. At his age to be singing as good as he does, and the ability to keep us with the young guys, he is amazing.

  16. For a man that has been singing for over 40yrs with the Kingsmen, and having kept the qroup together through thick and thin, Ray Reeses deserves much recognition. At his age to be singing as good as he does, and the ability to keep up with the young guys, he is amazing.

  17. Great idea and lineup. But, I’d put Calvin Runion or Big Cheif with the Kingsmen (because I’ve not heard Randy yet.)Yes, Calvin dosen’t really fit the quallifications of this idea since he was with the Kingsmen.
    I’m not a fan of Ray because he slurrs alot, so I can’t understand his words BUT, he deserves special recognition for how long he’s kept the group together. It just wouldn’t be the Kingsmen without Ray. That’d be like the Cathedrals without George or Glen, or The Forida Boys without Les, Glen, and Derrel.

    This idea reminds me of ‘The Un-origional Masters V’.

    Just wondering, did you put McRay Dove with the lineup that never was of The Statesmen?

  18. Always a fun topic idea. A couple years ago, I suggested what we might now call “The Statesmen that Never Were” on the SGN boards. I don’t remember who I picked then, but here are my picks now:

    The “New” Statesmen:

    John Rulapaugh – Tenor
    Josh Garner – Lead
    Brad White – Baritone
    Burman Porter – Bass
    Jonathan Sawrie – Piano/Occasional Baritone

    John and Burman are obvious choices from their Doves days. John IS Rosie, and Burman does Chief better than anybody.
    Josh Garner has all of Jake’s vocal flair, and eye-bugging routines, while still being his own man, not a Hess imitator. Brad White is an amazing baritone and arranger who can switch to piano whenever Sawrie takes a lead, just like Doy and Hovie did back in the day. Plus, Burman and Sawrie have the proper pencil-thin mustaches… Sawrie even looks a bit like Denver Crumpler.

  19. Now MY picks for The Best Kingsmen Lineup that Never Was:

    Tenor: Jay Parrack
    Lead: Jonathan Wilburn
    Baritone: Eric Dove
    Bass: Tim Duncan

    Jay is obvious. He sounds, and even looks, like his dad.
    Wilburn can “bring it” in true Hammill style.
    Eic Dove is a great “room filling” baritone in the Doy Ott/Ed Hill/Eldridge Fox tradition.
    Tim Duncan has the vocal “cut” of a Ray Reese or a London Parris, (I can see Inquirer John cringing at that comparison) which can kick an entire song into high gear.

  20. That was supposed to say “Eric Dove” not “Eic Dove”

    Oh, well.

    “I like Eic.”

  21. Good groups, Chris

  22. I don’t know if anyone can improve upon the sound of Ernie, Jim, Ed, and Ray…for those not familiar with those first names…Ernie Phillips, Jim Hamill, Ed Crawford, and Ray Reese…now that is power.


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