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Classics IV, 1968.
|Origin||Jacksonville, Florida, U.S.|
|Genres||Soft rock,rock, blue-eyed soul|
|Atlanta Rhythm Section|
The Classics IV is an American band formed in Jacksonville, Florida, United States, in 1965. The band is often credited for establishing the "soft southern rock" sound. The band, led by singer Dennis Yost, is known mainly for the hits "Spooky", "Stormy", and "Traces", released 1967 to 1969, which have become cover standards.
The group began as The Classics, a Jacksonville cover band consisting of guitarists J. R. Cobb, Walter Eaton, keyboardist/guitarist Joe Wilson, and singer Dennis Yost. Yost had previously been a member of The Echoes. The name "The Classics" came from the Classic drum set Yost owned. He was known in the Georgia/Florida area as the "stand-up drummer" because he played standing up. The Classics played Ventures covers, as well as instrumental versions of "Misty" and "Summertime". People started requesting vocals, so Dennis would say "I can sing that", and that was the beginning of the group's new direction.
The band was discovered performing in Daytona Beach by talent agent Alan Diggs, who became the band's manager in partnership with Paul Cochran and later, Buddy Buie. The pair had formed an alliance with manager-publisher Bill Lowery and urged the band to relocate to Atlanta. With the help of Lowery, they quickly snagged the group a singles deal with Capitol Records. The Classics' debut single was "Pollyanna", a song written by Lowery client Joe South and sung in a style which resembled that of the Four Seasons. Shortly after that they received a letter informing them that there was already a recording act named 'The Classics', who had a single titled "Till Then". In an effort to differentiate themselves, Yost and company added "IV" to the name because there were (at that time) four members.
The Classics IV performed "Pollyanna" on Dick Clark's TV Show Where the Action Is! and "Pollyanna" was a regional hit. But when WABC (AM) radio in New York started playing it they received a call from the Four Seasons' manager demanding they cease airplay of "Pollyanna" or they would no longer get exclusives on future Four Seasons recordings, among other disincentives. The group landed a deal with Imperial Records. Guitarists Cobb and Buie added lyrics to a jazz instrumental titled "Spooky", a 1966 regional hit for Atlanta saxophonist Mike Sharpe. The single made it to No. 3 on the Hot 100 in February 1968 in the U.S. and No. 46 in the UK.
Drummer Kim Venable (born Clayton Kimbal Venable on May 5, 1944 in Eclectic, Alabama, died June 12, 2016) was brought in so Yost could move freely out front (drummer Dennis St. John and bassist Emory Gordy were the musicians on their studio recordings). The band changed its name to 'The Classics IV featuring Dennis Yost' and enjoyed two more top-10 hits, "Stormy" (1968, Hot 100 No. 5) and "Traces" (1969, Hot 100 No. 2, Easy Listening No. 2), the latter of which Emory Gordy also co-wrote. Cobb and Buie borrowed heavily from 1936's "Everyday with Jesus" by Robert C. and Wendell P. Loveless to pen the top 20 follow-up "Everyday with You Girl" (1969, Hot 100 No. 19, Easy Listening No. 12). In 1971 Michael Huey became the drummer after working for other Lowery artists Tommy Roe and the Swingin' Medallions. During this period Huey also became the staff drummer for Lowery Studios and later moved to Los Angeles.
"Spooky", "Stormy", and "Traces" each sold more than one million units, and all were awarded gold discs by the R.I.A.A. Those three hits plus "Everyday With You Girl" also appeared in the 1977 film The Chicken Chronicles. The group changed its name again, this time to "Dennis Yost and the Classics IV", and had one last top 40 hit, "What Am I Crying For?" (1972, No. 39) on MGM South.
J.R. Cobb and producer-manager Buddy Buie would later form Atlanta Rhythm Section ("ARS") with the Candymen drummer Robert Nix, also from Jacksonville, and keyboardist Dean Daughtry in 1970. ARS played on Al Kooper's album Naked Songs (1973) and charted the hits "Doraville" (1974), "So Into You" (1977), "Imaginary Lover" and "I'm Not Gonna Let It Bother Me Tonight" (1978), "Do It Or Die" and "Spooky" [re-make] (1979), and "Alien" (1981).
In 1975 Yost began performing solely under his own name, and eventually he lost the rights to the Classics IV name. During the 1990s, without the trademark, he used many backup bands including Steve "Stevie G" Guettler (guitar, vocals), Jeff "JT" Strickler (bass guitar, vocals), Steve Farrell (guitar, vocals), Mike Wilson (keyboards, vocals), and Wes Armstrong (drums, vocals) of the Atlanta-based group The Rockerz. He also used Nashville-based Steve Jarrell and The Sons of the Beach Band, as well as the Hitts out of Virginia Beach, Virginia, with Ed Hutchison (guitar, backing vocals), Ramon Gonzalez (keyboards, backing vocals), Andy Crosswell (drums), and David Voss.
In 2001 Yost underwent successful throat surgery for a condition that had severely impaired his singing voice. He also won a trademark dispute which gave him exclusive rights to the name The Classics IV for both performing and recording purposes.
On July 11, 2006, Yost fell down a flight of stairs and suffered serious brain trauma. To assist Yost and his wife with their medical bills, a benefit concert was held on March 25, 2007, at Rhino's Live in Cincinnati, Ohio. The benefit was hosted by Yost's close friend Jon "Bowser" Bauman, former vocalist with Sha Na Na. Many musical entertainers and some surprise guests from the 1950s through the 1970s performed some of their biggest chart-topping hits in tribute to Yost. Some of the artists performing that day were Denny Laine (the Moody Blues and Wings), Chuck Negron (previously of Three Dog Night), Ian Mitchell (Bay City Rollers), Pat Upton (Spiral Starecase), "Diamond" Dave Somerville, the Skyliners, Buzz Cason, Carl Dobkins Jr., Mark Volman (the Turtles), and The Robby Campbell Trio. The concert did not significantly benefit Yost or his wife financially, as was hoped; expenses far exceeded the money raised, leaving the event in the red. However, it was a huge boost for Yost to visit with so many old friends.
After Yost's accident, he chose Tom Garrett to replace him as lead singer for the Classics IV. The plan was for Yost to make a few yearly "special appearances", and gradually have Garrett take over as the leader of the band. However, Yost was able to perform with them for only one appearance in 2008. Garrett and Yost worked closely together to develop the current lineup. He chose Garrett to help him keep the Classics IV music going in the Classics IV tradition. Yost would listen to the band on recorded CDs, and during that time Garrett and Yost became close friends. The band Yost chose in 2007 to continue his legacy with the Classics IV trademark consists of Garrett as lead vocalist, Kevin Lloyd on bass, James Yoder on keyboards, Paul Weddle on saxophone (2012), John Kerner on guitar (2015) and Shawn White on drums (2017).
|Year||Album||Label & number||US Billboard|
|1968||Spooky||Imperial LP-9371 (Mono); LP-12371 (Stereo); reissue: Liberty LN-10182 (1982)||140|
|Mamas and Papas/Soul Train||Imperial LP-12407; reissue: Liberty LN-10221 (1984)||196|
|Golden Greats Volume 1 (compilation)||Imperial LP-16000||50|
|1973||What Am I Crying For||MGM South MSH-702||-|
|Year||Single (A-side, B-side)
Both sides from same album except where indicated
|Label & number||Chart positions||Album|
b/w "Cry Baby"
As "The Classics"
|Capitol 5710||106||-||Non-album tracks|
b/w "Nothing to Lose"
b/w "Poor People"
b/w "Strange Changes"
|Imperial 66293||90||-||Mamas and Papas/Soul Train|
|"Mama's and Papa's"
b/w "24 Hours of Loneliness"
b/w "Mary, Mary Row Your Boat" (from Spooky)
|"Everyday with You Girl"
b/w "Sentimental Lady"
|"Change of Heart"
b/w "Rainy Day" (from Traces)
|Imperial 66393||49||25||Golden Greats Volume 1|
b/w "The Comic"
|1970||"The Funniest Thing"
b/w "Nobody Loves You But Me"
|"God Knows I Loved Her"
b/w "We Miss You"
|"Where Did All the Good Times Go"
b/w "Ain't It the Truth"
b/w "Pick Up the Pieces"
|United Artists 50805||-||-|
|1972||"It's Time for Love"
b/w "Most of All" (from Song)
|United Artists 50777||-||31||Non-album track|
|"What Am I Crying For"
b/w "All in Your Mind"
|MGM South 7002||39||7||What Am I Crying For|
b/w "One Man Show"
|MGM South 7012||95||35|
|"Make Me Believe It"
b/w "Save the Sunlight"
|MGM South 7016||-||-|
|"Love Me or Leave Me Alone"
b/w "I Knew It Would Happen"
|MGM South 7020||-||-||Non-album tracks|
|"It's Now Winter's Day"
b/w "Losing My Mind"
|MGM South 7027||-||-|
|1975||"My First Day Without Her"
b/w "Lovin' Each Other"