It was the peak of The Sixties- the decade known for its pop culture explosion. In the news everywhere were stories ranging from Vietnam to the NASA’s Apollo space program. As flower power, psychedelia, and hippies became the news of the day, society was churning with unpleasant feelings. 1968 was the year the Beatles’ “Revolution” was released, and though their song didn’t make it to the Top 10 in the United States, The Lettermen’s “Goin’ Out of My Head/Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” did. The hit song was nominated for a Grammy.
The Lettermen released 26 albums in the 1960s. They focused on their trademark love songs, but also included arrangements such as Charlie Chaplin Song “Smile”, Percy Faith’s instrumental “Theme From a Summer Place”, and John Lennon’s “Love”. Their sound drew on Big Band Era vocals, rhythm and blues and soft rock. Tony Butala was the original founding singer of the trio and is the only original singer remaining in the group today. He had been a professional child singer since he was seven years old. He was part of the Mitchell Boys Choir and was a voice actor for the animated Disney version of Peter Pan, voicing the role of Lost Boy Slightly. Today, he owns a Napa Valley, California winery; Butala Vineyards.
The Lettermen formed in 1959 with Tony Butala, Mike Barnett, and Dick Stewart. Over the years, the personnel changed, but the tight harmony and sweet arrangements of their pop songs remained. These Lettermen trademarks were holdovers from 1950s musical sensibilities, and that’s part of the reason why they remained popular regardless of the British Invasion and the turbulence associated with the 1960s. At the time, many family-minded music lovers were steering clear of music which included rock and roll or suggestive lyrics of any kind. In fact, many fans from that era often spoke about how their parents would only allow them to listen to The Lettermen. Their fan base was large then, and it has continued for decades.
The 38th Annual Lettermen Convention will be held in Fort Wayne, Indiana on July 27 and 28. Members of the Lettermen Friends Club gather together for the members only event. They enjoy eating breakfast with The Lettermen and being part of a group photo with the trio. The Lettermen and fans enjoy tours to local attractions. The Lettermen in concert are the highlight of the event.
The Lettermen are currently on their 2018 tour in the United States from March through November 9, where they perform at the Uptown Theater in Grand Prairie, Texas. Along the way, they have stops in Florida, California, Las Vegas, North Myrtle Beach, Schenectady and other cities. Their 2019 tour begins on January 19 at the Brock Performing Arts Center in North Carolina and continues with selected dates in March and September scheduled at the South Point Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.