The Four Lads

The Four Lads. Popular vocal quartet of the 1950s. First known as the Four Dukes, the group was formed in 1947 in Toronto by Jimmy Arnold (lead tenor, b 4 Jan 1932, d 15 Jun 2004), Bernie Toorish (tenor and arranger), Frank Busseri (baritone), and Connie Codarini (bass).

The Four Lads

The Four Lads. Popular vocal quartet of the 1950s. First known as the Four Dukes, the group was formed in 1947 in Toronto by Jimmy Arnold (lead tenor, b 4 Jan 1932, d 15 Jun 2004), Bernie Toorish (tenor and arranger), Frank Busseri (baritone), and Connie Codarini (bass). All attended St Michael's Cathedral Choir School in the 1940s, where they studied with Mgr John Ronan. After their CBC radio debut in 1949 on Elwood Glover's 'Canadian Cavalcade,' they appeared for some 30 weeks at a New York nightclub, Le Ruban Bleu, and began recording for Columbia as background voices on such hits as Johnnie Ray's 'Cry' (1951) and 'Little White Cloud' (1951) and Frankie Laine's 'Rain, Rain, Rain' (1954), all arranged by Toorish.

Remaining with Columbia, the Four Lads had their first independent success with 'The Mocking Bird' (1952) and their second with 'Istanbul' (1953). Of about 20 singles released by 1959, all characterized by the group's expert and closely harmonized singing, hits included 'Skokiaan' (1954), 'Standing on the Corner' (1956), 'Who Needs You' (1957), and the million-sellers 'Moments to Remember' (1955) and 'No, Not Much' (1956). The group also made many LPs for Columbia, Kapp, and Dot. In 1975 the Four Lads were listed by Billboard magazine as 167th of the top 200 recording acts of the previous 30 years.

Five of the Four Lads albums have earned gold record status:

Istanbul (1953)

Moments to Remember (1955)

No, Not Much (1956)

Standin' on the Corner (1956)

Who Needs You? (1957)

Though performing mainly in the USA they continued to appear in Canada - eg, with the St Michael's Boys Choir they sang 1 Feb 1960 on CBC-TV's 'Music 60 Presents the Jack Kane Hour.' Codarnini was replaced in 1962 by Johnny D'Arc, and Toorish in the early 1970s by Sid Edwards, both of the USA. The group continues to appear in US and Canadian clubs, however Frank Bussari is the only member from the original group. The Four Lads, together with their contemporaries, the Crew Cuts and the Diamonds, received the Juno Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2003 the Four Lads were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame.


Further Reading

  • Hutton, Eric. 'Four Lads on a little white cloud,' Maclean's, 15 May 1952

    Gardner, Paul A. 'Four famous lads,' Weekend Magazine, 8 May 1954

    Lacey, Liam. 'Canada's kings of doo-wop,' Toronto Globe and Mail, 1 Dec 1984