Saturday, April 5, 2008
In The Beginning - The Watchmen Quartet's History
The Watchmen Gospel Quartet announced their "retirement" last year to be effective at the end of 2008. As of September 2007, this group had successfully completed 36 years of Southern Gospel Quartet music to thousands of fans. I know something of their history as I was a co-founder and original bass singer for the group in 1971 when it started. Here is how it all began.
In the summer of 1971, at Garden Grove Church of the Nazarene, a Music Committee, led by myself, discussed what "specials" we would have for the Sunday morning and evening services. It was our job to fill the calendar with music specials and we decided it was time for the church to have a male quartet. I had sung in quartets since I was 15 years old and Dennis Zimmerman had just arrived at the church with an interest in Gospel Quartets from back East.
Dennis and I selected the choir director, Ken Pratt, as lead and Roy Scott as baritone. I was a bass singer and Dennis was a tenor which rounded out the voices needed for this group. The organist for the church, Pat Bounds, agreed to play the piano for us. We practiced a number and selected a Sunday evening in September to sing our first song, "God's Grace" also known as "Marvelous Grace Of Our Loving Lord".
Our music was straight out of the hymnal. We stood around two mikes and sang the song from the hymnal. The congregation loved it! And so did we. So we selected another number and spent the time in between our assigned times to practice that one. I believe we did it by memory. That started a regular once a month quartet number and we kept on adding numbers to our memory for future opportunities.
Dennis had a friend in Glendale who worked at a local church there. They were having a missionary conference during a week in February 1972 and he asked Dennis if our quartet could come and sing on a Tuesday night for the people. That started a "traveling" ministry and we needed to find a name. Tried calling ourselves "The Messengers". We found out there was a popular group back East called "The Messengers" and we didn't want to be confused with them. The program at the conference listed us as "The Basor Gospel Quartet" suggested by Dennis' friend. Basor meant messenger in Greek. At one of our practices we threw out names for consideration and finally accepted "The Watchmen Gospel Quartet". Little did we know that the group (with many personnel changes) would still be going in 2008.
Dennis is the only original member remaining with the group. There has been occasions through the years when he has called former members to come up and sing a song with the guys which brings back wonderful memories of great times. The original four guys were on the Homecoming program January 2006 singing our "first" song once again and from the hymnal! It was the 35th year of the Watchmen and was fun to participate in that program.
The Western States Quartet Convention this year will be held in Fresno May 1, 2, 3. On Saturday afternoon they will have a "Watchmen Quartet Tribute" which Ann and I will attend.
I was the bass singer, historian, and treasurer for the group from September 1971 to November 1982. In 1983 the members of the quartet included our son, Rick Moore, moving from bass guitar to bass singer replacing his dad. During my time with The Watchmen, we made four vinyl records along with cassettes. Each record has 12 songs on them. CDs weren't out yet or DVDs and video recordings. I would estimate we sold 10,000 records. Not bad for a local group.
In 1992, Rick formed the Crimson River Quartet which has been singing for 15 years now. They are having a 15th Anniversary Concert at Lake Hills Church in Laguna Hills, CA on Saturday night April 26th at 7 p.m. It will be a great night of music with guest artists. You can find the information by visiting http://www.crimsonriver.com/ .