Five people in a quartet

By now you may have seen the clever “news” bit about the Dove Brothers on Letterman. Here’s Chuck Peters:

They didn’t actually make an appearance, but the Dove Brothers were mentioned on CBS Television’s The Late Show with David Letterman. During one of the segments on last night’s program,.. Letterman pointed out humorus misprints and awkward advertisements from various “hometown” newspapers. One of the viewer submitted “funnies” was an advertisement for an appearance by the Dove Brothers. The ad featured a photo of the DBQ’s five members, and the name, DOVE BROTHERS QUARTET.. underneath in bold lettering. Letterman found humor in the fact that the “Quartet” consisted of “five” members.

Reader KB writes to ask the obvious question I feel like I’ve heard before can’t really recall where:

WHY IS A FIVE-MAN UNIT CALLED A QUARTET?!

Maybe it was Goff’s book, maybe somewhere else, but I know I’ve read some sg history that clearly demonstrated how the pianist in the group stopped being a bit player or back up musician somewhere along in the early to mid 80s and became or earned an equal position in the group both professionally and in fans’ estimation. Anthony Burger is often cited as the first equal-partner pianist, which may or may not be true but this seems a good place to mark the historical evolution of these things. (If you watch the Cathedral Reunion video, for instance, you’ll see George Younce give mid 70s era Cathedrals painist Haskell Cooley a piano solo mainly, I think, because by the late 90s pianists were considered full members of the groups. But of course back in Haskill’s day, pianists were largely second-string guys who rarely got solos and were usually heard but not so much seen.)

Anyway, I guess it’d be too much to ask that the wider world “get” something this arcane and insiderish, but really … “aren’t those bumpkins oh so bumpkinish” really is only so funny after a while.

Update: Commenter N notes that Leno did this bit half a decade or so ago. So yeah. Enough said. What’s next? “Why do 24-hour convenience stores have locks on the doors?”

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Comments

  1. niven wrote:

    The exact same joke (different group) was on Leno about 5 years ago…Dave must be getting lamer if he’s repeating Jay Leno bits on his show.

  2. Daniel J. Mount wrote:

    Incidentally, it was the Cathedrals that time (I believe…not that I’ve ever watched Leno or Letterman).

  3. David Bruce Murray wrote:

    That joke has been done to death. Carson or Leno did the same joke with the Kingsmen…this was when they had the whole band in the photo, so it was actually pretty funny that time.

    Pianists have been considered to be “main” group members for much further back than just the 1980s. Dwight Brock and Lee Roy Abernathy established the pianist as a key element for a quartet initially in the 1920s. Another guy a few years later began cutting up with the crowds and showing off by turning his back to the piano and playing behind his back. I can’t remember his name at the moment. Wally Varner was just as important as J. D. Sumner when they were in the Blackwood Brothers…and I haven’t even got to Hovie Lister or Henry Slaughter. Lister WAS the Statesmen, from day one.

    It’s easy to see why it doesn’t make logical sense on the surface to someone like Leno or Letterman, but SG quartets are called quartets because four people sing. I can wrap my mind around that logic pretty easily, but there’s one group I can’t understand for the life of me. That’s the Fairfield Four. They sing a cappella, and there’s FIVE of them. Which one isn’t one of the four being counted?

  4. Brad wrote:

    This is sort of like the country song that’s out now, “I’m Building Bridges” or whatever the title is…. It’s billed as a “trio” with Sheryl Crowe, Vince Gill and Brooks and Dunn. I count 4, but evidently B/D+SC+VG=3.
    Of course that’s not nearly as funny as putting a gospel group up on the screen for a cheap knee-slappin’, side-splitter.

  5. Scott wrote:

    How long has Martin Cook with the Inspirations been the emcee and pictured with the group? Oh yes, he started the group and it has been that way since they started. This really is not a new concept.

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