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Bob Flanigan, Four Freshmen Founder, Dies at 84


Bob Flanigan, a founding member of the Four Freshmen, the well-scrubbed tight-harmony group begun more than 60 years ago, when all of its members really were undergraduates, died on Sunday at his home in Las Vegas. He was 84.


The cause was congestive heart failure, said Dina Roth, a manager of the current Four Freshman. Founded in 1948, the group is widely described as the longest continuously performing vocal quartet of its kind in the United States.

A tenor, Mr. Flanigan was the group’s longest-serving member and its original lead singer. He performed with the Freshmen until 1992 — besides singing, he played trombone and string bass with the group — and afterward was its manager for five years. In retirement, he remained involved as a mentor and musical adviser.

The original Freshmen, whose singers all doubled on at least one instrument, enjoyed immense popularity in the 1950s and early ’60s. Though the group was most often called a jazz ensemble, its musical style transcended category, encompassing elements of barbershop, jazz and pop.

The Freshmen’s characteristic sound — which married harmonies joined as snugly as fine cabinetry with a lush improvisatory style that made the ensemble sound far bigger than it was — was a palpable influence on later groups like the Beach Boys and the Manhattan Transfer.

Over the years, the Four Freshmen recorded more than 50 albums and received six Grammy nominations. Now in its 22nd lineup, the group comprises Brian Eichenberger, Curtis Calderon, Vince Johnson and Bob Ferreira.



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