Happy Birthday, Gene Puerling

I realize I memorialized Gene Puerling only last week, but today would be his 86th birthday.

I don’t need a special day to celebrate the creative genius of Puerling, but I will take advantage of it every time I can.

Today, let’s turn to a wonderful live recording from 1978. In it, The Hi-Lo’s, recently reunited, are singing at a birthday party.

I love it for several reasons.

First, to hear the wonderful vocal harmonies of these four men, without the usual instrumental accompaniment, brings into focus just how beautiful Gene’s writing was, and how supernatural their blend.

Second, to hear that even skilled and accomplished singers like these occasionally have trouble getting their starting note from a pitch pipe or landing a cutoff together is reassuring!

Finally, at 14:30 in this recording you’ll get to hear as close to a full live performance from The Singers Unlimited as you’re ever going to: it’s a blending of The Hi-Lo’s and TSU versions of “My Romance” and includes the wonderful Bonnie Herman singing lead vocals.

I’m also taking this moment to remember March 31, 1999, when WMU Gold Company crowded into Steve Zegree’s office after rehearsal. He called of Gene Puerling, who was sitting down to a birthday dinner, and we sang him the opening few bars of London By Night. That was the closest I ever got to Gene, and while I wish I could have gotten to know him, it makes me so happy that at least I got to sing his music for him.

Happy Birthday, Gene.