The Imps win, and still lose

I hesitate to post this, given how ugly the comments flame war got the last time this issue came up, but I’m hoping since the Imps 2.0 and Armond Morales (of the Imps 1.0) seem to have settled their dispute, the discussion will be more civil (h/t, RH).

As to the substance of the story itself, I still don’t see how this nasty, protracted fight was worth it for the group. The Imperials have their name, … and not much else, and what little they might have that will actually help them professionally exists independently of the Imperials label (and has been languishing, no doubt, while they have pursued this legal catfight). Haven’t the various tepid revivals of Blackwoods groups, or the lackluster Statesmen imitation that Hovie Lister fielded late in life, taught anyone anything?

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  1. Leebob wrote:

    I don’t think we will ever learn. I saw a certain brother revival group about a year ago. I was greeted with ten minutes of story with 4 minutes of song (yawn), supposedly by a charming yet rather large man.

    The original reunion tours that Gaither started in the early 90’s before giving way to the younger groups (there is a reason for this BTW) gave hope to many of these groups that a rebirth of their own glory years could happen. But alas, they were mistaken with the exception of pockets of success.

  2. SGfan wrote:

    For the most part, I would have agreed with you on this post. All except for this sentence.

    “Haven’t the various tepid revivals of Blackwoods groups, or the lackluster Statesmen imitation that Hovie Lister fielded late in life, taught anyone anything?”

    The case with the “Imps 2.0″ is a little different in that the new Imperials actually have the talent to live up to the legacy of the name. The same has not been true of the other “revivals” you mentioned.

    This does bring up an interesting question though. Why continue the Imperials name instead of using a new name and building as an unknown. Sometimes, it seems that the climb is faster for a group when they are a relative unknown when people start to discover who they are. You kind of have to weigh that against any benefit you see of any prestige in the old name.

  3. Leebob wrote:

    Good point SGfan…How ridiculously hard would it have been for Ernie, or anybody else for that matter, to live up to the legacy of the CATS and then for the poor soul having to replace George Younce on the bass? It does smack of ego for the younger generation to live off the name as if they could compare to the former group. Had there been some type of continuation of the group going on perhaps we would not be having this discussion.

  4. wackythinker wrote:

    Leebob - I agree with the premise of your posting #3, except that the current configuration IS (for the morst part) a continuation of the Imperials as they were just before Armond (the last of the original members to leave the group) retired. If I recall correctly (and I’m sure SOMEone will correct me if I’m wrong), 3 of the 4 current members were with the group before Armond left.

    So it’s not like some of the other revivals, where no more that one of the previous members is still in the group. (FFB comes to mind — no former members).

  5. Leebob wrote:

    I am man enough to admit to being wrong so I stand corrected on the Imps. If that is the case I suppose they should be able to use the name without too much backlash. Oh yeah, that gets us back to where we started doesn’t it? As for FFB, aren’t they still managed by Les? If so, he isn’t going to change the name anytime soon.

  6. CVH wrote:

    The times are so different today and even though this group is, technically, a variant of the original group, there’s no comparison. I’m not knocking them, I think the new Imperials are pretty good but they lack the distinctives that marked the original group…the context of the culture, the gospel music business…it’s all so different that today I’m not sure, other than for nostalgic purposes, the name has much residual value.

    I’ve seen a video by the classic (?), original (?) “formally known as” Imperials on YouTube and it’s pretty good. But I can’t find out on their website if the record’s actually available yet. Anyone have any clue what that group is doing?

  7. Tad Kirkland wrote:

    So what is the resolution?

    Shannon Smith told me over a month ago he himself was no longer with the Imperials taking a job as a church music minister. Why is he even still a spokesman in the press release?

    Perhaps his departure is the reason for the “resolution”.

  8. Irishlad wrote:

    #6CVH. I have been away for a few days so i’ve just caught up with this thread and your comment. Since their conception,1964,there have been 28 former members not including the members of the present two groups,Armond being the common denominator throughout. Now agree with you that the current Imperials don’t have the authenticity of the 60’s and 70’s Imperials,however they’re a whole lot better than the group of the 80’s and 90’s(they were unrecognizable) when most of the turnover took place.Having said that to me The Classic Imperials are just what’s written on the tin…Classic.That’s the name they should stick with.

  9. David Bruce Murray wrote:

    When he left the group, Shannon Smith continued as a business partner of MOSH, Inc., the corporation that owns the Imperials name.

    Shannon, Jeremie, and Jason did sing with Armond until his retirement from the Imperials in 2003. In fact, Jeremie and Jason both joined as vocalists in 1999. (Jason had been the sound man for the group prior to joining the group as a singer.) When Armond decided to retire, they brought in Ian Owens as his replacement, and he endorsed their choice.

    A lot of fans are under the perception that the current group “revived” the name, but this isn’t accurate. The group did fall out of the public eye for a number of years due to an independent approach (no record label, distribution deals, etc.).

    It wasn’t like the group ever simply stopped and took up with four new guys, so Doug’s final paragraph characterizing the current Imperials as a “revived” version is misleading.

    The truth is that Jason and Jeremie have been with the Imperials now for NINE years…matching Terry Blackwood’s tenure, longer than Jake Hess, and longer than Russ Taff. If I’m not mistaken, only Armond, David Will, and Jim Murray had longer tenures with the group.

  10. cynical one wrote:

    DBM - I’ll take your comment about “independent approach” one step further. They STILL don’t have a label, distribution deal, etc. They’re getting some airplay. And that, plus the legal mess between Armond and his son seems to be all that’s gotten them back into the limelight.

    I couldn’t help but wonder if, after Armond signed the Imperials name over to MOSH Inc, he had “buyer’s remorse” and decided he wanted to get back into the nostalgia business, and wanted his name back. And with 2 groups out there using some version of the Imperials name for nostalgia-type shows, having the original name back might have looked appealing to him.

    I’m just speculating. But then, cynical people do that sometimes.

  11. tina marie wrote:

    If anyone thinks that this present configuration with a fill-in lead singer is worthy of the Imperials name, then you haven’t been listening to them or seen them live. They don’t LOOK right, and they don’t SOUND right. They have absolutely nothing that suggests excellence, cutting edge music, or authenticity that made the Imperials a cut above the rest. They thought they wanted to be contemporary. That didn’t work so now they want to be southern gospel and cut some of the original songs of the Imperials. When they finally find themselves, and who they are or what they want to be when they grow up, please let us know. Until that time, I will continue to believe they are merely a second or third tier wannabe group, still singing in NQC showcases, but never making it to the nightly arena.

  12. David Bruce Murray wrote:

    #10 The difference now is that they’ve been pursuing an arrangement with a label. The issue over Armond and the Terry/Joe group using the name has been a major roadblock to them signing. The question at this point is…are any labels still interested in working with them? It would be a shame if they weren’t, because they’re a talented bunch of guys.

    In contrast, in the 1990s, the ministry/non-profit approach was a deliberate move to reconnect with churches after the concert arena/for-profit model had pretty much played out due to constant member turnover. Once their deal with Star Song ended, the Imps vanished from the airwaves and many fans falsely assumed they were no longer together…leading to words like “revival” being used to describe the current group which has actually had relatively little turnover in members for the past 5 years.

  13. carol P wrote:

    I actually heard The Imperials last month in concert in Nashville and I have to tell you that I thought they were extremely talented and I also felt ministered to in their concert. They seem like very seriously committed young men. I was a true Imperials fan in the 1970s and I was not disappointed when I heard them last month. I really felt God move during what I considered “a worship service” not just a concert. I wish them the best.

  14. tinamarie5733 wrote:

    David, how can you blame Joe/Terry for the failures of these young guys. They can’t get a record deal because they have no identity, no sound and are a poor replica of the originals. And now, there are two! The lead and the tenor are now gone! They have a baritone and a bass left! Who are you going to blame for that? Is that Joe/Terry’s fault? At what point do you finally look at these young guys and their poor decision making for their problems? THEY are the ones who sued. They should take responsibility for their bad choices.

  15. Tammy Hall wrote:

    On the young guys site it now says they have a new tenor and lead. How can David say they have had the same group for five years having now lost two guys in the last three months? This is a disaster in the making and certainly disqualifies them from any claims to their “continuing the legacy”. They have Jason, a baritone, who doesn’t do many leads, and Ian, the bass. Good luck with that duo.

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