K-Chuck Radio: It’s a 5 O’Clock World when the whistle blows…

In a previous lifetime, I was a freelance writer for the music magazine Goldmine.  One of my feature stories involved an interview with all four members of the Vogues, the 1960’s vocal harmony group that had several major adult contemporary and pop hits.

Bill Burkette, the lead baritone, was one of the original founding members of the Vogues.  He passed away earlier this year at the age of 75.  He is missed by his family and his friends and his fans.

So for today’s K-Chuck Radio, I thought I’d share the Vogues’ catalog of hits and songs with you, just so you could enjoy the mellow, harmonious sounds that a quartet from tiny Turtle Creek, Pennsylvania could take to the worldwide stage.

The Vogues were originally known as the Val-Aires, and their regional hit “Laurie My Love” was picked up for national distribution by Coral Records.

At that time, the group was a quintet – but a name change and a member reduction created the Vogues – Bill Burkette, Don Miller, Hugh Geyer and Chuck Blasko.  They would sign with the Co & Ce label, and have several hits on that imprint, including their Top 5 smash “You’re The One.”  While Petula Clark had a worldwide hit with that song, her version was eclipsed by the Vogues in America.

And of course you know their follow-up hit “5 O’Clock World,” don’t you?

Or maybe you know “5 O’Clock World” from its use as the theme song for The Drew Carey Show, don’t you?  See, once upon a time a game show host had a popular sitcom…

One of the Vogues’ final hits on Co & Ce was this Drifters-inspired “Magic Town,” written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, a song which appears in this clip with an enhanced stereo version – complete with violins.

The group later moved to Frank Sinatra’s Reprise label, and had their biggest hit of all time, a ballad called “Turn Around, Look At Me.”  The song had been a minor hit for several other artists, including Glen Campbell, but the Vogues pulled a million seller out of their performance.

This allowed the Vogues to evolve into a new career track – orchestral ballads of 1950’s classic hits.  That included this interpretation of Bobby Helms’ “My Special Angel,” which also became a Top 40 hit for them.

The Vogues became a trio in the 1970’s when Hugh Geyer retired from the group … then it splintered away after a few more songs.  The rights to the name “The Vogues” were bought by someone outside the band, who formed his own Vogues and toured performing the group’s hits.  Second tenor Chuck Blasko continued performing live with his own Vogues group, performing in Western Pennsylvania as the Vogues and elsewhere as “Chuck Blasko’s 5 O’Clock World Group.”

Eventually Bill Burkette and Don Miller re-joined the touring Vogues lineup, and he’s in this clip performing with the new Vogues (he’s at far left).

Rest in peace, Bill Burkette.  Thank you for being part of an amazing vocal harmony group, and take that spot as lead baritone – along with the appropriate robe and halo – in your next vocal harmony group in the heavens.