Ernest Warren of the Spaniels Passes Away at 78

Ernest Warren, one of the five original members of the Spaniels, passed away on Monday in Gary, Indiana. He was 78.

The Spaniels were formed initially for a December, 1952 talent show at Roosevelt High School in Gary. Originally called Pookie Hudson and the Hudsonaires the group included Hudson, Warren, Willie C. Jackson and Gerald Gregory. After deciding to continue performing together, they added Opal Courtney, Jr. as their baritone and changed their name to the Spaniels.

Four months later, the group signed as the second artist on the fledgling Vee-Jay Records (Jimmy Reed was the first signed) and went about recording their first four sides which included what would be there first hit, Baby It's You (1953/#10 R&B).

In early 1954, the group had their biggest success with the Hudson written Goodnight, Sweetheart, Goodnight which made it to number 5 on the R&B charts and eventually became one of the true classics of Doo Wop. They charted three more times during the rest of the 50's including the two songs that peaked at number 13, You Painted Pictures and Everyone's Laughing.

Warren was drafted out of the group by the U.S. Government in March of 1956, right in the middle of a major tour by the group. He would return two years later even though there had been other changes in the makeup of the group (and would be in the years thereafter). By late-1959, only Warren, Hudson and Gregory were left from the original group.

Warren stayed with the group until 1962. In 1976, he was ordained a minister, a vocation he would continue until his death.

Only one of the original five members is now living, Willie Jackson, who continues to perform as part of the latest version of the Spaniels.  Gregory died on February 12, 1999, Hudson on January 16, 2007 and Courtney on September 18, 2008.

1 comment

Jensen Lee said...

Nothing signaled the end of a dance or basement party like the Spaniels’ 1954 hit “Goodnite Sweetheart, Goodnite.” The Spaniels were among the first groups to use the doo-doo-doo riff in their songs. Pookie Hudson has been called the first true leader of a doo wop group as he would perform his solos at his own microphone, apart from the rest of the group. Rockaeology at http://bit.ly/r1Kay7 tells how the Spaniels coined their name after being told they sounded like a bunch of dogs. Thanks to its use on the “Sha Na Na” TV show and movies like “American Graffiti” and “Three Men and a Baby,” the song remains popular today.

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