Notebook Cover

The Glowtones

By Marv Goldberg

Based on an interview with Eddie Quinones

© 2023 by Marv Goldberg

There's not an awful lot to tell about the Glowtones. They formed in the Air Force, had a single record, but, unlike the Cuff Links and the Del Vikings, the Air Force did its best to discourage them.

The Glowtones

Since my source for this information (Eddie Quinones) was neither an original member of the group, nor on the recordings, the origins of the Glowtones are somewhat shrouded in mystery. But we know that they started, in 1957 at McGuire Air Force Base, near Trenton, New Jersey.

There was a photo of the group in the July 12, 1957 Brooklyn Daily (posing with Entertainer Extraordinaire Cab Calloway, who was currently appearing in a show at New York's Central Park). They were identified as: Henry Fisher (from Washington, D.C.), Landon Hill (Norfolk, VA), Lewis Johnson (Philadelphia), James Watkins (Martinsville, VA), and Robert Santiago (Manhattan; his actual name was Rigoberto "Rigo" Santiago). Unfortunately, their parts weren't given, although I know that Rigo was the second tenor. The caption started with this strange sentence:

Cab Calloway, star of the Central Park Theater Under The Stars production of "Cotton Club", sports a smile of approval as he previews platter of the sensational new all-Air Force vocal group, the Glowtones, who were just awarded a professional recording contract with Atlantic Records.

Why is that strange? Well, how could he preview the platter when the songs wouldn't even be recorded until the following month? Ah, to be a press agent.

East-West 101 Their only Atlantic session took place on August 15, 1957, resulting in two songs: "The Girl I Love" (a somewhat uptempo song with a harp) and "Ping Pong" (a non-politically-correct tune that could never be issued today). For some reason, these were issued simultaneously on both Atlantic and its brand-new East-West subsidiary in September 1957, although only the East-West platter was advertised.

The record was reviewed in the October 10 Cash Box, with both sides receiving a "B+":

Ping Pong: The Glowtones make an impressive debut on the new Atlantic subsid. The group rocks out the novelty jump with a sparkling vivacity that comes through in great style. Deck should be watched. It could happen.

The Girl I Love: The Glowtones back with another potent offering. A quick paced rhythm ballad with a melodic content that appeals. Good delivery of a strong hunk of material. A hit prospect.

the Glowtones ad for Ping Pong Atlantic pushed "Ping Pong" and it was a Cash Box R&B Best Bet in their October 19 issue (along with Billy Myles' "The Joker" and the Teen Queens' "I Miss You"). In their December 7 issue, the song was on a list of Territorial Tips (songs that showed up on regional charts, but not the national ones). I don't know why, but the ad for "The Girl I Love" only showed three singers.

Soon after the session, there was an opening in the group when the first tenor was discharged from the Air Force. Luckily, Rigo (their second tenor) had a friend whom he'd known since childhood: Eddie Quinones. Eddie had been the second tenor of the Dovers and the Vocaltones, but had enlisted in the Air Force in March 1956 (after the Vocaltones' last Apollo session). Brought into the Glowtones, Eddie found himself singing first tenor, with which he wasn't all that comfortable.

The Glowtones were pretty constrained by being in the Air Force: there was just so much leave and just so far that they could go for appearances. Considering how proud the Air Force was of the Del Vikings, it's hard to understand why they weren't more supportive of the Glowtones.

In November 1957, they signed with Archer Associates, which resulted in a tour being set up. They were able to take some leave, but had to stay close to the base. This meant that their appearances were limited to New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. In fact, when their leave was up, the Air Force wouldn't give them any more time off and they had to cancel the rest of the tour.

at the Apollo at the Apollo They did manage to spend a week at the Apollo Theater, beginning on December 13, 1957, as the opening act for a show hosted by WOV DJ Jack Walker ("The Pear Shaped Talker"). The Clovers headlined the show; the others on the bill were the Chantels, the Paragons, Thurston Harris, Bette McLaurin, and Dee Clark. This is the only appearance I can find for them.

By this time, Alfred Gaitwood, the bass who started the Cuff Links had become a member, having been transferred, in February, from California to McGuire AFB. When he arrived, he first formed the Rivals, who recorded for Darryl ("I Must See You Again" and "Riggetty Tick").

As I mentioned in my Cuff Links article, Alfred Gaitwood considered himself a songwriter rather than a performer and he went out of his way not to get on stage with the group. Thus, when they played the Apollo, Alfred was standing in the wings while another bass appeared (unfortunately, another unremembered name). Again, there are only three members in the single photo I have of their Apollo performance.

Then, as soon as they were ready to do another session, the Air Force started shipping the guys all over the globe. ("They didn't want us to become famous," says Eddie.) And that was pretty much it for the Glowtones. Eddie Quinones was eventually sent to Japan, but that didn't happen until April 1959, so he had time to join the reconstituted Dovers in late 1958 and was on their early 1959 recordings for Joe Davis.

So what can I say about the Glowtones? Mostly "I wish I knew more about them". However, "The Girl I Love" (a Luther Dixon composition) is a nice soft sound that I've always liked. "Ping Pong" (penned by John Marascalco) is one of those throw-away pseudo-Oriental numbers, but at least it's well done.


1156 The Girl I Love/Ping Pong - 9/57

101 The Girl I Love/Ping Pong - 9/57

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