The Imperials Lawsuit

Since it doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon, I might as well as get this out of the way and comment on the ongoing legal dispute between various parties contesting each other’s claims to ownership of the Imperials name.

Skip to the next paragraph if you already know the history: If you don’t know, you’re going to have go elsewhere for it, because I’ve paid less than average attention. The uninitiated will probably want to start with this Christianity Today article, which really ignited a flame war. If you’re looking for horses mouths, “The Imperials,” whatever or whoever that refers to in this whole mess, posted an open letter about the ordeal a bit ago on their website. As for commentary and follow-up, Kyle Boreing (who’s really coming into his own as a sg blogger) has written two detailed and thorough posts on the matter recently.

But frankly, I just can’t see how this matters to the wider world of gospel music as something other than spectacle or litigious blood sport. Consequently, I really don’t care that much about the legal ins and outs. Obviously the young guys think there’s some value left in the Imperials name, and just as obviously the co-founder of the original group asserting ownership of the name has a stake it retaining control of the trademark and the artistic legacy it designates.

The ordeal pits a once-famous father, Armond Morales, against an ambitious son, Jason, which gives all this a nostalgic, oedipal overlay that’s irresistible from a gawker’s point of view. But honestly, what southern gospel drama isn’t about filiopiety and nostalgia at some level?

In the academic world, the fiercest fights often happen when the stakes are the lowest. And so it often is in southern gospel. As the genre has declined in the last 25 years, aspirants lacking the substantial ability or ceaseless drive (or both) it takes for real professional artistic achievement in southern gospel today often defer a reckoning with the truth by working to secure the trappings of success and appearances of greatness, the things themselves being hopelessly out of reach.

There seems to be a whiff or two of that wafting off this Imperials lawsuit over naming rights. As it affects the success of the young group suing for the rights to The Imperials, using the name would seem to supply the group with few advantages that aren’t purely personal or emptily symbolic (the open letter from the group claims this is a fight for the very existence of the group, but their music won’t be any worse, or better, or less popular, if they change their name tomorrow and start putting the time and money currently frittered away on this lawsuit into getting some good material and learning, among other things, how not to oversing most of their lines).

The ever-decreasing number of people who were fans of the original Imperials don’t strike me as a sustainable demographic for these new Imperials boys to target – either because this new group can’t (from what little I’ve heard of them) ever hope to live up to the standard set by the original, or because even if they could, their music is stylistically uninteresting to fans of the original Imps. That leaves people who either don’t know anything of the original Imperials beyond the name, or who have never heard the name before at all. In this context, it’s hard to see the professional point of prolonged trademark litigation.

So mostly, this lawsuit seems to be about whether or not an unknown group of b-side singers gets to toil in mediocre southern gospel obscurity with or without a semi-famous name.

Wake me up when it’s over.

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  1. Aaron Swain wrote:

    Ah, finally got around to covering this issue, I see. I figured you’d get around to it fairly soon after your break.

    Haven’t seen any updates on it, but I did see recently where Armond sent a responsive open letter to his son. At first, I was pretty pleased, for it seemed like he had straightened up a bit. However, upon further examination (and an email from David Bruce Murray), I thought it seemed a bit contrived, and more out of an attempt to make himself look somewhat good. Ah well… Hope it all resolves soon.

    See my blog for my thoughts on the subject.

  2. Robert wrote:

    Understand, my comments are based on knowing the history of this dispute, but not really being a fan of the Imperials. Not because I don’t like them but because I was never exposed to their music when my SG roots were being grown. This being said, does a name really mean that much? If these guys are good enough they should be able to make a name for themselves.

  3. Ted wrote:

    This is a very sad story, I hope that some mediator can step in, I feel especially for the younger guys.

  4. Philo wrote:

    Odepial? My my..Jason wants to kill his father(Armond)to make love to his mother! Gets worse doesn’t it ….OF COURSE!….Avery, it’s Greek Legend Jason wants the Golden Fleece(Imperial name) so of he goes to see old Midas and…… well you started it.

  5. Jake wrote:

    What is sad about this whole situation is that there will be no winners. All of the groups involved are getting bad publicity. Even if the newer, younger group end up with the name — and that may technically be the right decision — the name “Imperials” will forever be associated with a bitter lawsuit, family member against family member, and group against group. It is sad that the name “Imperials” will forever be blotched over this, and the legacy of the past will be overshadowed by the scandal of the present.

  6. Norm Graham wrote:

    If the Beach Boys can settle a name dispute with big money involved, one would hope the Imperials could do the same.

    Two original members of the group, Al Jardine and Mike Love, reached an agreement over use of the name on Wednesday. AP said Love had sued Jardine, claiming Mr. Jardine improperly used versions of the name while fronting his own band. A federal judge ruled in 2000 that Mr. Jardine was engaging in trademark infringement as Love was sole licensee of the name. Love and Carl Wilson’s estate sued Jardine in 2004 for $2.2 million in legal fees spent in the original litigation against Jardine. It was that case, set for trial in April, that was settled this week. Details of the settlement were not disclosed,

  7. cynical one wrote:

    The “Imperials” name forever bloched over this mess? Maybe not. Some thought the same thing about the Blackwood Brothers’ name, and the integrity of the GMA, after the Dove Awards buying scandal of 1979. Now, after nearly 30 years, most people around the industry don’t even know what I’m referring to, and both names are still held in high regard.

    One might have thought the names and legacies of other artists and entertainers, whose families have fought over the estates, name usage, etc, would have been marred, too, but all that happened was those kids and/or widow(er)s made their lawyers richer.

    Still, it’s a sad situation, no only for the parties involved, but especially for the cause of the gospel. The good news is this: This is small potatoes, and not many outside our s/g world know or care.

    The best news is this: God still loves us all, and forgives our failures, when we ask.

  8. Tom Thompson wrote:

    The truely sad part that seems to be also lost in the responses to the article is that ‘Christians suing Christians’ is specifically condemned by the Apostle Paul. Episodes like this are good for nothing except to give occassion for the world to blaspheme the name of God. (NIV) I Cor 6:7 “The very fact that you have lawsuits among you mean you have been defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?”
    I pray God doesn’t throw us out as he did the money changers in the temple. Winning lost souls is EVERY christians charter. Not Christ Mongering (profiteering from the name of Jesus Christ).

    May God forgive us all.

  9. Kyle wrote:

    Thanks for the compliment, Doug!! I will say, your site was the inspiration for me….

  10. John wrote:

    Re: #7…cynicalone’s point is well-taken, since the Blackwoods/Dove affair happened in 1971, not 1979…but since our memories tend to be so short these days anyway, what’s eight years between friends?:-)

    With his/her last line, cynicalone shows that he/she is my kind of cynic, anyway.

  11. Leebob wrote:

    How must the Lord Jesus be crying over His Gospel taking yet another black eye over the ALMIGHTY DOLLAR. Can we not take care of these things behind closed doors BEFORE it becomes public knowledge?

    This makes me all too grateful that I only have what I have and isn’t worth suing to get. BTW - This whole suing thing is in Corinthians if you care to pick up your Bible and apply some scripture to the situation.

  12. Dean Adkins wrote:

    And let’s not forget the more recent Stamps Quartet - Ed Enoch & Golden Covenant - Stamps merry-go-round.

  13. thom wrote:

    IF the new group was any good - which it’s not - they could make it using an entirely new name and not have to rely on whatever credibility using the old “Imperials” name may bring them.

    Based on my own observations, having endured 2 painful sets on 2 different occassions, this new group’s sound is way over produced, the tracks are too heavy, the vocals are nothing special, the attire is ragtag-goodwill store rejects meets wannabe rock star, and to top it all a rather obvious disconnect with the audience who, like me, just didn’t “get it.”

    The original Imperials should be suing them for trashing the name and legacy with this poorly done imitation.

  14. mike wrote:

    i agree thom! the “young imperials” are horrible…and they look awful, too…they oughta just get a new name and leave the imperial lagacy alone…or else they will continue to run into the ground

  15. Philo wrote:

    Armond could call himself anything and still be undoutbaly brilliant, not an other bass in his class. Just watched their new dvd,superb!Can’t see the new guys getting close,not then,not now,not ever To me JM on tenor AM on bass gave the Imperials their trademark sound. Why would any other group go down that road unless .they were cashing in on an established iconic name.

  16. Trent wrote:

    At NQC last year, I walked up to the Imperials table with the intentions of buying their latest CD. Their appearance was so slouchy….faded out Salvation Army-looking jeans, shirttails hanging out, basically unkempt all the way around in their appearance….I turned right back around and walked in the opposite direction without buying any product. If this group continues on–and I don’t doubt that their intentions are good and that they are good singers–they need to look into some personal hygiene and decent-looking clothing. Their appearance is hurting their ministry.

  17. thom wrote:

    Trent - if you heard them you would retract that statement….”and that they are good singers” - because they aren’t.

  18. Tele D. Trooth wrote:

    Trent I agree, let me say that first before I say with tongue firmly in cheek “Oh c’mon, it’s not about how they look, it’s all about the MINISTRY!!!!” yeah, right…and Hillary would make a fine conservative Christian president too. Just to show I am not picking on the IMPS, it seems MANY groups need to clean up the way they look…God demands our best, vocally, instrumentally, and in our appearance. We seem to have a knack for “changing with the times” but God does not (thank God He does not)

  19. Leebob wrote:

    Say it ain’t soooooo!!! Have we advanced back into this subject again? How people are dressed? Are you kidding me??? Pastors are out there in less than their Sunday best and have congregations in the thousands. I would have something to say perhaps about the content of their message but the dress thing has gotten TIRED. (Yes Ransomed is classy in appearance just choose not to judge others by this standard) Judge them by their sound, too many stacks, perhaps their lack of Biblical consistency, but not this! Lemme guess - you would be the same people trashing Crossway?

    It was a nice change to have the Booth Brothers on the cover of SN NOT having to have their suit on. Ransomed gets scourged lovingly many times in churches for wearing suit and tie.

    Philo #15 Not another Bass in Armond’s class? The quality bass list is a pretty lengthy list and he doesn’t make the top 5 in my humble opinion. Imperials were known for alot of things but their bass wasn’t one of them. I am not bashing the man just the statement. I do agree that they had an extremely unique sound that was easily recognized by young people yet despised by the clergy of the 70’s. HMMMM, sounds like a problem of 2008.

  20. CVH wrote:

    If these events had unfolded even as late as the mid-1980’s they might have had more consequence to the industry and fans alike. But given the gradual decline of The Imperials (the group itself and the value of the brand) through that decade and the 1990’s, the current cross-litigation is just a sad blip on the gospel music radar screen.

    The Imperials were a heritage group and their legacy stands. Jason’s group shows promise but they lack many of the distinctives of the original group. Having the ‘Imperials’ name may be their way of building on what’s left of the brand but owning and using it has probably not been a major factor in their success or lack of same to date.

    Apparently mediation has been tried with no resolution. And I have to believe that for both parties, it’s about PR and positioning as much as ‘winning’ the rights to the name. Remember too
    there’s still Clarence Collins who, dismissive as he is (and has every right to be) about the whole mess, still owns the national Imperials trademark.

    And lest anyone consider me a total cynic (I’d say I’m only about 78% on any given day), the well-intentioned hand-wringing of some of the posters here amuses me. Oh, I get it. I understand the underlying spiritual principles and what should be the overarching goal of spreading the gospel and avoiding these messy situations at best and, at worst, keeping them out of the public eye. But The Imperials (and many other groups) are about the BUSINESS of the gospel. It IS about the money. If it weren’t, there would be no gospel music bidness.

    Maybe if the Gospel Music Channel gets into reality programming they could get everyone to sign on and do 13 weeks. Viewers could vote at the end on who gets to keep the name. Then next year at NQC or the GMAs there could be awards given for “Best Victim In An Ongoing Legal Dispute” and the “He Said-He Said” Award for most contradictory arguments.

    Or even a Common Sense Award for the people who just shake their heads and tune it all out.

  21. Kyle wrote:

    CVH - “Maybe if the Gospel Music Channel gets into reality programming they could get everyone to sign on and do 13 weeks. Viewers could vote at the end on who gets to keep the name.”

    That has to be the best idea I have ever heard!!!!!

  22. Tele D. Trooth wrote:

    A reality show about SGM…now I would buy a ticket to THAT one. It would probably be no different than the Bret Michaels or Flava Flav disasters…almost like DOG the Bounty Hunter or a massive three-car pileup…you just can’t take your eyes of the carnage for long.

    Camera One shows Robert F. Turnbuckle, tenor, having an intimate conversation with Franklin T. Marmasette, baritone. Heaven only knows what about, but they seem so intense and as the camera closes in, they abruptly stop talking and go in opposite directions. Camera Two brings us to Johnny “Mud Cat” Tompkins, bass, who sits calmly on the back deck with a dip of snuff in his lip, cleaning his shotgun for turkey season…”I node there was sumthin fishy bout them two from the start” he says, eyes squinting from rabid homophobia. Cut to commercial…we are off to the races…lol

    Back from commercial and we see Alex Davison, lead singer, on the phone with his wife…”Honey, I just think I need to spend more time at home with the family. Call Uncle Fred and see if that job at the bait shop is still open.”

    Tune in next week as the quartet sues Bill Gaither for the name “Gaither Vocal Band”…

  23. Larry wrote:

    The young guys are investing thousands in a name that has spent the last 25 years in near obscurity. If they don’t go broke off of this lawsuit, and if they win, it will take years to build up a name that has been scandalized by this litigation. The guys are talented enough. Name change or not, they are going to be building a name no matter what. It’s a shame to turn a legacy like this loose, but I think it’s just as well to let Armond Morales or Joe Moscheo have the group name for now and see what happens. The Imperials haven’t been the same since the early 1980s, and without some well-publicized endorsement from some of the older, more famous members, it’s going to be hard enough for the young group to make the name amount to anything, even without the whole litigation mess. The Imperials name has been damaged, let’s just lay it to rest for now and let em do their dead Elvis shows. Maybe a new name will inject some new blood into the young group and they can go ahead and use their money for more useful purposes.

  24. Trent wrote:

    #19 (LeeBob), I really don’t have all that big of a problem with guys singing with their shirttails out. And my post certainly wasn’t about skirt hemlines or hair length or any of that stuff (although I do have opinions on it). Rather, my post was about looking like an absolute slouch. I don’t have a problem with jeans, but faded out jeans that look like you slept in them and haven’t washed them for three weeks bothers me, as it should anybody. A general unkempt appearance on stage or at the product table does and should bother anybody. Looking like you slept all night in your big brother’s hand-me-down clothing is bad for business at any level and in any type job you choose to work in.

  25. SG Fan wrote:

    #18 Tele D. Trooth
    So let’s see, the 11th commandment is “Thou shalt wear a suit and tie to perform southern gospel music.” I agree that God expects our best, but whether you like it or not, your have changed with the times. You probably do not cut your hair the same way you did 15 years ago, you do not wear the same clothes as you did 15 years ago. In Jesus day, there were no suits, ties, and button down collared shirts. Neither were there blue jeans or t-shirts with catchy Bible verses posted all over them. You may not like their appearance, and that is your right. However, I would like to know what makes you a fasion analyst? If you want to be critical of artists, focus on the things that matter such as message, delivery of that message, and effectiveness. I have not had the privledge of hearing them in person. I have, however, heard some of their latest material. I actually like the sound on CD. If you go to one of their concerts expecting to see a group dressed like the Stamps used to or even Gold City of today, then you are in the wrong place. Their target audience is a younger crowd that does not gravitate to a group dressed in 3-piece suits with $80 ties. They tend to target a crowd that is boderline CCM/SG. The Inperials are often heralded as one of the founding CCM groups.

  26. Philo wrote:

    leebob#11.Correct me if i’m wrong but, i thought there were ‘no tears in heaven’. A bit of thought should be given before an emotional outburst as such.

  27. Janet Burrus wrote:

    As someone who wore out her Imperials albums in the 70’s, I am admittedly curious about this whole affair. My support tends toward Armond, et al, for nostalgia’s sake, mostly. However, when I read that the new group wants to be able to claim the title “Grammy & Dove award-winning group,” the entire picture became clear. Someone is wanting something for nothing & is willing to cause an ugly, public spectacle to get it. I say bravo to the “older” guys for not giving in to such immature tactics. Let the new guys stand on their own (& good luck with that after alienating so many potential fans already).

    And, for the record, I thought Armond’s open letter to his son was moving. I don’t think Aaron Swain is old enough to have the perspective to be so judgmental towards Armond. I found his comments very off-putting.

    Meanwhile, prayer for wisdom, forgiveness, & healing is needed for everyone involved. I’m sure we’ve all seen worse scandals hit our local churches - how much more painful it must be to have this displayed publicly.

  28. apathetic wrote:

    So you didn’t buy a CD because the guys weren’t wearing matching suits at NQC? Give me a break. I think any SG group dressing in modern fashion is doing this to attract a younger audience into the genre. The core SG audience is dying off by the minute. (literally) You have to do something to try to appeal to an audience that is going to be around for more than 10 more years. To imply that because they weren’t wearing suites so they weren’t giving God their best is ridiculous. Who says that a suit is “the best” thing to wear? That is 100% subjective and relative to the age of the person making the statement. I’m sure that God is sitting on His throne just beside Himself (OK, so maybe that’s a bad analogy), because a singing group was wearing stylish clothing instead of a suit, with war, hunger, forced child prostitution, and all to take care of.

    Well, I’m not going to buy the next Gold City CD because they were wearing suites from Value City and not Armani. So that clearly wasn’t their best.

    3 piece Armani suit, if it was good enough for Jesus to wear it’s good enough for me.

    How pathetic. And we wonder why people don’t want to come to church.

  29. Leebob wrote:

    Philo(#26) - Perhaps we have an emotionless God who’s heart is broken over His people who can’t work out issues without bringing in lawyers and thus smearing His name.

    BTW - it is only after the judgement of the Saints that there are no longer tears in heaven. I personally believe, according to Scripture, that there will be plenty of tears in heaven when we see lost loved ones being cast into hell forever and we had very little to do with attempting to reach them but had plenty of time to sue one another. That is why revelation talks about God wiping away all tears.

    If you ask me instead of name calling you will get a very good explanation of why I say something. There is ALOT more to Ransomed’s ministry than just music. First and foremost we try to be Biblically accurate with our music.

  30. Tele D. Trooth wrote:

    SG Fan, I am not a fashionista…but I am entitled to my own opinion to which I stated. I do not advocate suits and ties, etc. but I DO advocate at least looking like you didn’t walk in from the Goodwill store and I think that was the jist of Trent’s initial post. I too have gone along with current fashion trends, hairstyles, musical styles, etc. but at the same time I have not embraced the “slouchy just rolled out of bed with my uncle bob’s hand-me-downs on” look. And I am not picking on the IMPS, I have no problem with the current line up and current sound…nice bunch of young guys…I can still say that and not agree with how they dress at times….aint America great?

  31. SG Fan wrote:

    # 30 Tele D. Trooth
    America is awesome. You are definitely entitled to your opinion. I do not necessarily think one should walk on stage looking like you just rolled out of bed, but many would say that about the way I dress. A lot of my clothes come from stores like Buckle, Abercrombie and Fitch, Hollister, and other such places that feature clothing with a distressed look. My hair is not neatly combed, but not spiked. The point is, I am young and this is the style that is appealing right now. You don’t have to like it, but if you are going to market a group to a certain generation or crowd, appearance is one of the key factors. I guess my main question was is there any Biblical precident on the way we should look other than the obvious of not dressing provocatively? I have a tendency to use a little sarcasm sometimes to get a point across. I in no way mean any harm by it. The reason I pointed to your statement, is the way it was worded kind of equates appearance to relationship with God. “We seem to have a knack for “changing with the times” but God does not (thank God He does not)” I guess the question remains, if Jesus were walking the earth today, what would He be wearing, how would He look? Probably not wearing a three piece suit and tie. He lived among the “common folk” and associated with them. I might also add, He dressed like them. He could have come in any way He wanted. That, in my opinion, gets to the meat of that issue. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think so. That is my opinion. Yes America is great.

  32. Tele D. Trooth wrote:

    SG Fan, I think we actually agree nearly 100%. I have no problem with casual…tacky and trashy I do have problems with. And perhaps my statement about God not changing with the times was a bit harsh. The crux of my statement was that in our churches and on our stages (and sadly behind closed doors) there seems to be a lot more getting by that did not “back in the day”. In other words, things that were not OK when Grandma was coming up seem to be OK nowadays. Yes I know times change and people change and also our PERCEPTIONS change; and Heaven knows I do not advocate that every SGM singer should dress like they caught a sale at Value City or wherever. I dare not get into the business versus ministry debate nor “what exactly is a sin”. I am only talking about the difference between dressing like a bum and dressing like you have a bit of self-respect. To each and every one of us, Jesus is how we perceive Him until such time as we see Him face to face. Personally I picture my Jesus just as the old paintings do, in the dress of his time. If He were to come and walk with us today in the physical, I suppose I would picture him decently dressed…but with bedhead, a threeday shadow and torn up jeans, I do not picture Him that way…and again that is my own opinion and perception. I do know this statement could open up a Pandora’s box of comments that drift far away from the original topic (as does this post) so I will sum up my own personal opinion thusly: In agreement with Trent’s post: If you are representing God and His church, at least ack like it…dress casual but not trashy. Come out and be seperate. Again, my own opinion and no slam against the sound or personalities of the current IMPS lineup.
    I heard one preacher say it this way:
    I like banana pudding, but I won’t eat it from a trash can, lol…

    Oh yeah, I think the whole publicly suing and bashing thing among Christians is a bit much as well.

  33. Tele D. Trooth wrote:

    yes, ack was an intentional butchering of the word “act”

  34. apathetic wrote:

    “I am only talking about the difference between dressing like a bum and dressing like you have a bit of self-respect” I don’t think those dressing “in style” are lacking self-respect because their shirt tails are out or they have messy hair. Again, this is ALL 100% subjective (as well as judgemental) “Come out and be separate” You know, I know a lot of devils in the corporate world who commit adultery, lie, steal, and worse, but they wear 3 piece suites so I guess they are OK, huh? Since all we are talking about is appearance. That’s what gets you to Heaven, right? You all must be from the south, still stuck in the 60’s church mentality. I’m surprised you listen to Southern Gospel, it has those evil drums in it. You know negroes used drums in voodoo rituals in Africa. Can’t have those in the church. Yada Yada Yada. Get over yourselves.

  35. Aaron Swain wrote:

    #27: I’ve updated my blog to further elaborate on my standpoint. Hope this helps you to understand why I have the views I have.

  36. wackythinker wrote:

    Might Jesus appear to each of us in different ways? Might He appear to a Wall Street broker in a 3-piece suit, and to a farmer in bib overalls? To a homeless man under a bridge, might he appear with 3 days growth of facial stubble, and to a hooker dressed like a pimp? And to some of the rest of us as something in between?

    Since photography was not invented yet, we really don’t know how Jesus appeared 2000 years ago. We only ASSUME He looked like the rest of society. Whatever that means.

    I would guess that, if he appeared today, He would look like the people he was trying to appeal to today. And that’s what most performers (sg or otherwise) try to so — appeal to the crowd we’re trying to influence. Or at least that should probably be our plan. If you want to sing to a crowd who’s decked in 3-piece suits, you would probably want to be in a 3-piece suit. If you’re going to sing in front of high school kids, you’d probably go a different route.

    If a pastor is preaching to a crowd that mostly dressed in suit & tie, he’ll probably be dressed that way most of the time. Your youth pastor may not.

    Does that make us hypocrites? I don’t think so. That’s just smart. You can call it marketing, public relations, whatever. But it boils down to knowing your audience.

    Now, do we always get it right. Definitely not. Some may not even try to be “all things to all people”. But most people adapt to whatever circumstances they’re in, whether it’s performing on stage, or just talking with their buddies.

    A valid point may be that the young guys in the Imperials got it wrong — that they misunderstood who their primary audience was that night. Maybe they didn’t get the memo from NQC — that they needed to be in suit-and-tie.

    Or maybe they intentionally ignored the memo, ’cause they don’t care what you think, or whether you bought their cd.

    Just some “maybe” and “might” things to think about.

  37. apathetic wrote:

    well said Wackythinker

  38. Jim2 wrote:

    Taking wackythinker’s comments even farther afield, if you want to get seriously riled up about how Jesus would appear today - read the wildly popular and mildly controversial “The Shack” by William Young. Or you can cheat and just read the reviews on Amazon - be sure to read the 1 stars - they are very insightful.

  39. Tele D. Trooth wrote:

    Wow apathetic…I guess my attempt at keeping the peace while maintaining my own opinion missed you somewhere. With that said I will take my cornbread-eating, cousin-marrying stuck-in-the-old-days (to you anyway) self and find another thread. I have sufficiently made my point that supports my own opinion…regardless of where you think I am from or what you think my view of Christianity is. Peace…

  40. apathetic wrote:

    Tele D. Trooth,

    “I have sufficiently made my point that supports my own opinion”

    Isn’t that a little redundant? Facts are what support opinions. Not “points”. Someones “point” IS their opinion. So basically what you are saying is “I have sufficiently made my opinions that support my own opinion”. Instead of saying “I have sufficiently stated the facts that support my opinion” (which hasn’t happened). Sounds like the assesment I had made about you being from the South hit the nail on the head. Not that intelligence is directly proportional to the distance from the Mason Dixon line. I love the south. They just have a hard time with being stuck in “religion”.

  41. Steve2 wrote:

    “Not that intelligence is directly proportional to the distance from the Mason Dixon line.”

    Nor is class and tact.

  42. wackythinker wrote:

    So, there might be more intellegence, class, and tact on or near the Mason-Dixon line, than 100 or more miles either side of that line?


  43. Tammy Terrell wrote:

    I, for one, think that Armond is highly overrated. You can’t name me one signature song he was known for in his entire tenure with the Imperials. NOT ONE! I think he has been a very fortunate man to have had some great singers to make him look and sound good. And, yes, he was in the original group but he was NOT a co-founder of the group. Jake Hess hand picked who he wanted. Armond was his choice for bass. Jake Hess founded the group by himself. The young guys are just silly, and irrelevant, trying to make a reputation off men who really made an impact for the first twenty years. No awards, no signature songs, nothing they can call their own. The only time they get a decent response is when they sing songs of the 70’s and 80’s by the really great singers. They are embarrassing themselves and should just go away and all of them need to get a real job.

  44. Radioguy wrote:

    Armond may not be the lowest bass, but he was/is a good smooth bass. I’ve always thought of “Welcome Home, My Child” from No Shortage as his signature tune. If the young guys of today’s Imperials read this, please don’t take this harshly. I don’t intend anything I say in harsh way. Their open letter seems to put a lot of blame on Armond. I can’t imagine why at 75 years of age Armond would want to fight about this. He’s had his glory days and I’m sure he knows it. I understand the current group is more Southern Gospel oriented, but they don’t look SG. Maybe they are trying to be trend setters…and maybe someday they will be viewed as such. The only negative comments I’ve read about them are here, other message boards I’ve read there has been a lot of positive things said. The trouble is, when you hang an old name on a new group, you will always be compared to other versions, so these guys do have an uphill battle. Jason probably thought he was doing a good thing continuing the legacy of his father. As far as Armond, he knew he didn’t have the voice to make it in CCM, but he was smart enough to surround himself with people that could. He reaped a lot of the benefits. I would not hold that against him. That’s just being smart enough to know your own shortcomings, but still knowing how to enjoy untold success through others.

  45. Tammy Terrell wrote:

    “Welcome Home, My Child” was a very good song. He sang the first two verses, then Jim took the melody and ended it high. Were it to have stayed in the bass, it would have bombed. He is just not a memorable nor exciting singer. I would venture to say that most of this audience is not familiar with that song so I could not call it his signature song if it is not well known. I still maintain he is an overrated singer; smooth, yes, but not noteworthy. And yes, he surrounded himself with great singers like I said. I also don’t believe he was the sound of the group. In my opinion, the lead and the tenor make up two-thirds of the sound of a quartet. The bass is the novelty you use sparingly.

  46. PhilB wrote:

    I’m still mulling over a post regarding the intra-Imps dustup … But this post is about Armond’s voice. That he had no “signature” song is debatable. However, that his voice was and is an absolute marvel to hear is beyond dispute. I attended many Imperials concerts beginning in their white-suit, “Heed The Call” days, and I can tell you the crowds went wild whenever Armond took his turn, or when the arrangements showcased the bass line. Think of “Sail On,” “Heed The Call,” “First Day in Heaven,” “Trumpet of Jesus,” “No Shortage,” “How Great Thou Art,” and more.

    The least-inspiring Imperials albums were the ones where they strayed away from harmonies that let Armond shine, although even in those years they sounded much better in person than on the albums.

    In later years they came back to the Armond sound and made some great albums, such as “Till He Comes” and a second Christmas album.

    I have no idea why Armond made some of the marketing decisions he made. It’s sad the Imperials name declined years ago. But two things I will remember: My first real date with my one and only wife was an Imperials concert at Baylor University, and my little daughter gave her heart to Jesus at an Imperials concert at a small Texas church concert toward the end of their heyday. The original Imperials will always be part of our lives.

  47. John wrote:

    Two THIRDS of the sound of a quartet?

    Uh, Tammy, a quartet has four parts by definition.

    And the bass part is the anchor for the harmonies of a quartet. And since people like to hear lower voices once in a while along with the higher ones, the bass(if he’s really good)is featured often in a lot of quartet arrangements.

    And Armond was really good, and popular.

    Check out his solos with the Weatherford Quartet back in 1959 on songs like “One God” and “House of Gold”.

    Or check out his 1964 solo album on HeartWarming released right at the beginning of the Imperials’ career, where his signature song back then, “Lead Me Gently Home” is featured. That song was rerecorded on a 1977 Imperials live album.

    And neither that song nor “My Child, Welcome Home” were novelty songs, nor were Armond’s solos on either song “novelties” by any stretch of the imagination.

    And finally, it was Sherman Andrus, not Jim Murray, who had the solo on the last part of “My Child, Welcome Home” on the Imperials’ original recording of the song.

    It’s OK if Armond’s singing was not your cup of tea…but at least have a clue on what you’re posting about before you reveal your ignorance to all of Doug’s readers here.

  48. Tammy Terrell wrote:

    I have heard quartets all my life and arranged for quartets. You take away the first tenor and lead, you have nothing but baritone and bass. How many bass solos can you endure in one sitting? How many baritones can carry a group? Maybe one or two. They are important but even duos can survive, but not bass and baritone duos. An example would be the Everly Bros, a lead and a part a third above, singing tenor. That is why I say the tenor and lead are two thirds of the sound of any group. A group can even survive as a trio, without a bass. An example would be the Booth Brothers. They don’t need a bass to complete the triad. I never heard a solo album by Armond. I have heard the Weatherfords record. It was a classic. I remember Lili Fern’s voice on melody mostly and she was the sound of that group. She carried the melody on most songs and Glenn Paine did an absolutely fabulous job on lead. And lastly, on “Welcome Home My Child” Sherman Andrus sings one line as solo in the last chorus. The entire last chorus of the song begins with Jim Murray on the pick up words and on the melody line. He is not soloing but he does have the prominent voice. Please don’t call me ignorant until you know what you are talking about.

  49. Tammy Terrell wrote:

    By the way, John, on what 1977 album was the song “Lead Me Gently Home” rerecorded? I have them all and it isn’t on any of them. Didn’t make the cut. New Dimensions was 1976 and Now was 1977. I am not saying baritones are not as important as lead and tenor. They are vital to the sound of any group. Many times the baritone is the best singer in the group. But he only shines when he has the melody and/or a solo.

  50. Tammy Terrell wrote:

    My apologies on the dates of New Dimensions and Now. “New Dimensions” was recorded in 1967 or 1968. “Now” was the next record recorded the following year. My mistake.

  51. Tammy Terrell wrote:

    Looks like I was wrong again, John. I did find “Lead Me Gently Home” on the Live album. I stand corrected.

  52. Tammy Terrell wrote:

    One last thing, John, I am done with this subject. I am well aware that there are four parts to a quartet. I was being a little sarcastic when I said two thirds. I just think the combo of tenor, lead, baritone is a stronger chord than lead, baritone, bass. I know of no group with the latter combo. My point was that if you have to do without a part, it can’t be the tenor, or the melody. You can disguise the fact that you don’t have a third part of the triad, the baritone, if you have a great bass but it is not a desirable situation. If you listen to country radio, you don’t hear a bass singer on 90% of their records. Greater Vision, the Booth Bros. have done quite well without a bass. And I will acknowledge that a good bass is a definite plus for a good group but an average bass doesn’t hurt a group near as much as an average tenor or lead.

  53. Aaron Swain wrote:

    Has anyone heard Ian Owens’ rendition of “My Child Welcome Home” on the younger Imperials’ project Back To The Roots? It does the song justice.

  54. John wrote:

    Thank you Tammy, for your self-corrections on the “New Dimensions” album(Impact HWS 1962, recorded in 1968)and “Now”(Impact HWS 1990, 1969), and your realizing that “Lead Me Gently Home” was indeed on the DaySpring album “Live” from 1977. You saved me the trouble of correcting you once more.

    To close, I’ll only add that, yes, some gospel trios do fine without bass singers. But groups with only three members(be they tenor, lead, baritone or lead, batitone, bass)nonetheless are still only trios. The Imperials(and most of gospel’s greatest groups)have always been a quartet. Nice talking to you.:-)

  55. Leebob wrote:

    NOW you got me started. You cannot have a quartet without a solid baritone. The sum of the parts is better than the whole should be the quartet montra.

    There are local groups in the area that have a tenor/alto, lead/tenor, and a third guy who baasically duplicates what the other two are doing. If I see three people up there I better hear a chord fo rthe majority of the time. This setup does not complete the chord and thus leaves you with a donut feeling….NO MIDDLE! At the very least call the baritone the donut hole of hte quartet.

    For way too long now quartets have consisted of screaming tenors and growling basses insisting that is what crowds wanted. While I didn’t particularly think that Armond was the best of the basses, he did fit into what the Imperials were doing and gave them EXACTLY what they needed. He was probably the best bass for what they were doing.

  56. Radioguy wrote:

    Exactly Leebob.

  57. tammy terrell wrote:

    John, to call Lead Me Gently Home, Armond’s signature song is still a bit of a stretch. Is that who you think of when you think of Lead Me Gently Home? I have heard that song sung many times before Armond, and many times after Armond’s cut. I had to look for it to make my correction that it was, in fact, released on the LIVE cd. Not a memorable cut and certainly not a signature song by him. It was never singled, I`m sure of that. In my opinion, he had one style and it seems to me the Imperials had to find a song for him and his one style on every lp. I don´t think the Imperials as a contemporary group gained much by having him on board. I think he was best on the earlier lp by the Weathorford Qt, In The Garden, I think it was. That lp was more Armond`s style and it was a classic but due more to Lili Fern and Glenn Payne and their excellent vocals than to Armond.

  58. Jeremie Hudson wrote:

    As I have read the opening article and many of your responses. I sit here wondering how to respond, or even if I should. It is apparent that I do not know any of you. Although many of you seem to think that you know me or us from one article or a song or two that you’ve heard. I understand many of your concerns and comments. I also understand that none of you have really been involved in any of this, so you draw your conclusion from what you read.

    I write with some fear that I may look even more foolish to some but, hey, I guess I am already there. I would like to say something that many of you may not know.

    Some people think we restarted the group and got the name. NO, the group has been ongoing sice 1964 with 30 or more singers filling the ranks!

    I did not “ASK” to join this group. In fact, none of us asked to be in the Imperials. We were all “ASKED” by Armond himself. Many of you have commented that we have no talent. Well, that may be true. Many times I get up in the morning or up on stage and wonder why anyone would want me to sing anytime. However, if we do not have talent please call Armond, who put all of the other successful groups together, and tell him he missed this one.

    Many of you think we did this because The Imperials had a fortune. We just want, as some have put it, “GOLD. Well I have been with the group for 9 years. I have not had a paid vacation one time during the 9 years. I have not had a pay raise in 9 years. I have had pay cuts and missed many checks. In fact, right before Armond decided, himself to retire, and move to Hawaii, he sat with me and said he could no longer promise me a pay check; so if I wanted to stay then I would have to find my on way!

    People, the group was broke and thousands in debt! There was no money. The name was good, to some, but was not relevant to many! So Armond found a job in Hawaii and left! Shannon had come along a few months earlier and so we asked Armond, if we found a bass, could we keep it going? We found Ian.

    In May 2004 Armond came in from Hawaii and said GOD told him to sell us the group! Armond and Bonnie booked us a trip over to Hawaii and in Sept 2004 they officially turned it over. There were a few legal things that had to be cleared up but they did those later on.

    I said all of that to say this. Armond put this current group together. It was Armond’s idea to sell us the group at his price. Armond’s deal in Hawaii went bad so his word did too! We book almost all of our dates ourselves. We have paid for all our albums ourselves, whether you like them or not. We bought a bus ourselves. We drive, load in the equipment, load out then come home and run a group, that for some, has a good name. We have tried to make the name relevant again. Armond’s own lawyer said that if we were ever successful in doing that, then the “Old Imperials” would come out of the wood work. We do not believe we have brought this thing back to the popularity of some of the previous groups but we have done a few things.

    Carnegie Hall-1st time ever for the group.

    Album of The Year- Awarded in April 2008 by SGN

    Our last two radio releases went, at least, top 40 in Singing New and top 20 in other publications.

    We sing 160 to 180 dates a year and we thousands touched by GOD.

    Many of you will say, then why do they not have a “record deal” Well, several of the top labels have talked to us. They do not want to sign a group, as they say is being, “franchised.”

    Lastly, WE DID NOT TAKE LEGAL ACTION BECAUSE OF THE NAME, MONEY OR FAME. We took action because Armond sent false documents into a federal registration case. He, or we had committed fraud. It was not us. In fact, he has admitted to doing it. Some have said we should just quite and “go away.” Well, I say some should keep their word and realize that things change.

    To all of you who are actually praying with us in this case. The Bible says it is a shame to take legal action against a brother, not a sin. I do completely agree!

    Jeremie Hudson

    The Imperials

  59. Tammy Terrell wrote:

    Jeremie, it seems that if the name was good to some but not relevant to many as you say, then why pursue the name? Why not strike out on your own with a new name? You have your own sound, not the Imperials sound that I remember, and go for it? You have a different look that attracts a younger crowd. Why not do new tunes, not old Imperials tunes, start a new style to a younger crowd? Why are you pursuing a name you say is not very relevant anymore? And if Armond fraudulently sold you something he didn’t own in the first place, then are you not admiting that if you win the lawsuit, you don’t own anything? You have claimed ownership and now you are claiming you were defrauded. That’s like buying a car with a bad engine but you have no warranty. You made a bad deal. So get over it! You actually paid $1, I think that’s the price I read, but you got more than your money’s worth as you have used the name for several years now and have laid claim to awards you didn’t actually win and you go to churches as the award-winning Imperials. That seems a bit fraudulent to me.
    Also if it’s not about money, why do you continue to sue Armond over money? Why not leave the poor man alone? What are you trying to do to him if he is trying to settle the issues with your group? Are you trying to teach him some lesson and completely break him? It sounds like some sort of sick payback to me. If that is true, then vengeance may be the more operative word and God said “Vengeance is mine. I will repay”. I don’t think we Christians are to inflict punishment on someone who has wronged us and take them to court. We are to pray for them. God takes care of all injustices.

  60. Jeremie Hudson wrote:


    Did you actually just read anything I wrote?.

    This is not about the name or money. ( I do not know what money you think we are going after.) Although the document Armond signed in 2005 warrants that he would pay for any legalities that would come up with a thing like this.


    Armond did own the group. Having or not having registration does not mean you own or do not own a business.

    By the way. Where you there? Have you been in all the meetings we have taken and asked for? You presume to think you know something that you know nothing about. That is what I am personally tired of.

    You do not know our hearts. You assume things and make judgmental statements about people that you do not know and about a situation you are not involved in.
    People spread “gossip” about us and some people about Armond, when they do not know the “TRUTH”. Armond, himself has admitted to lying. SO, what do you not get!

    You said “I should get over it”. When I read things about me and my guys that are not true and mean spirited, then no I will not get over that!

    You are right, Tammy. GOD will take care of this. When the “TRUTH” comes out, either here or in heaven, then people will see what has really happened!

    Again, if you really want things to be
    “right” then you will pray with us, for us, for them and the situation entirely. If not, then continue to post things that make a very difficult situation much more difficult!

  61. mariehardy5733 wrote:

    I think you are distorting your position, Jeremie. Armond has stated publicly on his group site that he sold you guys something he didn’t have the right to sell. He’s apologized and asked for forgiveness. What more do you want? Blood? Money? I don’t know why you guys are so intent on destroying him. He sold it to you for $1. Do you think if he had any ill will towards you and wanted to take advantage of you, he would offer it to you for $1? He evidently thought he owned it. He was passing something on to his son he thought was valuable. Now he says he must not have owned it. Chalk it up to maybe his not knowing his actual legal position as it related to the Imperial’s name. So you paid $1 and have had the privilege for several years of calling yourselves the grammy and Dove award winning Imperials, who, by the way, also were inducted into the Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame. You got a LOT for $1. All of your claims are just false. You don’t have any awards to your credit that your group actually earned. You say he lied. It seems from what he says he just didn’t know what he owned and didn’t own. I say you lie every time you tell a church you are the award winning Imperials. You know you didn’t win those awards, yet you falsely claim them as your own.
    And lastly, if you just can’t get over it, does that mean you can’t forgive him? How can God forgive you for your lies when you can’t forgive Armond for his ignorance of the facts as he says, or lies as you call them?

  62. Jeremie Hudson wrote:

    Do people actually read my posts?

    ARMOND DID HAVE THE “RIGHT” TO SELL THE GROUP! He had common law rights for 40 years. “HE LIED TO THE PUBLIC!” He has admitted it. His partners have admitted it!

    Armond set the price! All of the “passing the group along” was “HIS” idea! When his deal in Hawaii fell through, so did his word!

    If he did not have the right to sell, then how do we have hundreds and thousands of Imperials documents in our possession with “HIS” signature on it! For instance; checks, contracts, records deals, employer and employee records, IRS documents.

    If he did not have the “RIGHT” then he lied for the 40 years he owned, OH WAIT, DID NOT OWN, the group!

    I ask again! When has anyone on this board, or any board, for that fact, been in any meeting that we have had or asked to have with Armond?

    We do not say that any of the current individuals has won any of those awards. We do say we are the current group that is carrying on the group. AGAIN, Bonnie Morales set up the web site when we first took over the group. She put those awards in stating that we are The Imperials and The Imperials won those awards.

    Lastly, anyone can get on boards, read a few statements, draw a conclusion and think they “KNOW” what is going on. The facts are. You don’t! Again, if you really care, then help us pray that this thing gets worked out! We have been, we are and will continue to try and get this resolved!