Lester Stamps Quartet (1945-1951) (incomplete):
Lester's Stamps Quartet
After having been a member of the Vaughan Texas Quartet in the late 1920s, around 1930 Harley Lester became an employee of the Stamps-Baxter Music Company where over the years he was an instructor in the companyís singing schools and sang in the Frank Stamps Quartet, the V.O. Stamps Quartet, and the Stamps-Baxter Quartet.
When Frank Stamps left his position with Stamps-Baxter and began the Stamps Quartet Music Company in 1945, Harley Lester joined him in the new company. Lester became a part-owner and member of the companyís board of directors. He soon organized, sang in, and managed, his own Lesterís Stamps Quartet. The group utilized former Stamps-Baxter company personnel.
In 1945 the lineup included, Loy Hooker, Jimmie Grisham, Harley Lester, Haskell Mitchell, and R.D. Ginnett. It was not long before Lawrence Ivey replaced R.D. Ginnett at piano.
In late 1946 Glen Payne joined Lesterís Stamps Quartet, and the lineup at that time was Loy Hooker (tenor), Harley Lester (lead), Glen Payne (baritone), Haskell Mitchell (bass), and Lawrence Ivey (pianist). They performed regularly, with up to three programs per day, on radio KRLD in Dallas. According to a review in the May 10, 1947 Billboard magazine, they released six records on the Bibletone label that were available as singles or in a set without an album jacket.
By June 1948, according to the Stamps Quartet Music Companyís Souvenir Album, the lineup was Loy Hooker( tenor), Glen Payne( lead), Harley Lester(baritone and manager), Austin Arnold(bass), and Billy Grable( pianist.) This arrangement might have been short-lived. In the book, The Cathedrals, Glen Payne said he sang the baritone part with Lesterís quartet, but he made no claim to have sung lead. Also, in October, 1948 both Payne and Haskell Mitchell left the Lester Stamps Quartet to join the Stamps All Star Quartet.
Lesterís Stamps Quartet, still headquartered in Dallas, continued to make appearances at least until mid 1949, or thatís when newspaper advertisements for their performances seemed to dry up for a while.
By November, 1949 Lesterís Stamps Quartet was headquartered in Birmingham according to an article in the Tuscaloosa News. There are several newspaper ads from 1950 with a photo of the group at WVOK in Birmingham comprised of Lane Shaw, Alton Jolley, Charles Cruce, and Harley Lester and a young pianist named Lenard Hays. Before the end of 1950, future Crusaders and Harvesters lead singer Oval ďBuddyĒ Parker had joined Lesterís group.
Lesterís Stamps Quartet continued to operate in Birmingham through the early part of 1951. The 1951 Radio Annual and Television Yearbook for radio /television artists listed Lester Stamps Quartet as being on WVOK in Birmingham. By mid, 1951, there were several newspaper articles announcing a singing convention in West Monroe, LA with Harley Lester out of Little Rock, Arkansas to be teaching voice on behalf of the Stamps Quartet Music Company.
The exact end of Lesterís Stamps Quartet is unknown, but by 1952 Lester had become the manager of the main Stamps Quartet in Dallas. Sometimes they were billed as Harley Lester and the Stamps Quartet. This group made some recordings as the Harley Lester Quartet on the Stamps Quartet Music Company label and as the Stamps Quartet on the Columbia label. Lester remained as the leader of the Stamps Quartet until 1955, when he retired due to health reasons.
Details regarding the group from 1952 through 1955 and beyond may be found in the SGHistory article on the Frank Stamps Quartet/Stamps All Star Quartet/Stamps Quartet.
1947 (Bibletone Records/4001): Heaven; I Want To Do My Duty.
1947 (Bibletone Records/4002): Heaven Will Be Sweeter Than Any Dream; A Happy Day.
1947 (Bibletone Records/4003): I Heard Hallelujahs Ring; Fonder, Fonder Grows My Heart.
1947 (Bibletone Records/4004): We Are Sailing To Eternity; I'll Follow Where He Leads.
1947 (Bibletone Records/4005): Ready For The Final Judgement; Trinity.
1947 (Bibletone Records/4006): My Lord Will Deliver Me; I Never Travel Alone.