The Gallahads -- led by Jimmy Pipkin -- are best remembered for "Lonely Guy," an enormous smash hit in 1960. Lead vocalist Pipkin, Bobby Dixon (first tenor and lead), "Tiny" Tony Smith (second tenor), and bass man Ernie Rouse formed this vocal group in Seattle, WA, in 1952, while they were still in junior high. At first they called themselves the Echoes, but by the time they traveled to L.A. to record for Del-Fi Records and the Donna subsidiary, they were calling themselves the Gallahads. The group had only three releases on Del-Fi, but each had enormous impact.
Their first single, "Lonely Guy," was released on both the Del-Fi and Donna labels, almost simultaneously. It proved to become an enormous smash, charting between June and September of 1960 and peaking at number nine in the Top Ten. In Los Angeles, it spent ten weeks at number one on the KFWB Fabulous Forty, the number one station in town. It also charted at number 111 on the national pop charts.
By the time of their next release, the Gallahads' lineup had changed a little bit: joining lead singer Pipkin and Ernie Rouse were fellow Seattlite Ray Robinson and L.A.-based doo wop/R&B musician/arranger/producer Charles Wright, who also worked with label-head Bob Keane as an A&R man and produced and arranged recordings by Little Caesar & the Romans and other acts. The A-side, "Be Fair," was sung in classic doo wop style and generated a bit of controversy because the story involved a blind boy ("it's no fun being blind") crossing the street with his girl friend who realizes that while his girl is "holding my hand, she's kissing my best friend." It's not clear who objected to the song, but the single hit another snag regardless. Disc jockey Alan Freed, whose radio show was broadcast on L.A.'s KDAY in 1960, failed to compensate the Gallahads for a few scheduled appearances, so they signed a complaint with AFTRA (a musician's union). Freed not only dropped the record but influenced fellow DJ Dick Clark to do the same, and it quickly fell off the charts.
Pipkin's final Gallahads single failed to earn them airplay as well and the original group soon split up. By 1962, Tiny Tony Smith had formed the Statics, an integrated R&B group with Neil Rush on sax and his teenage wife Merrilee on keyboards. Meanwhile, the Gallahads name resurfaced again in 1964 with "My Offering," this time with Billy Burns on lead vocal and a white teen band called the Counts backing them up. The Seattle-based Pipkin continued to perform with an oldies version of the Gallahads. Tiny Tony died in the mid-'80s. ~ Bryan Thomas