Ken Albers, 82; singer harmonized as one of the Four Freshmen

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Ken Albers, 82, who contributed harmonies to the Four Freshmen vocal group that was popular in the 1950s and '60s, died Thursday in Simi Valley after a long illness, according to Ross Barbour, one of the original members of the quartet.

Barbour, his brother Don Barbour, their cousin Bob Flanigan and Hal Kratzsch formed the close-harmony group at the Arthur Jordan Conservatory of Music at Butler University in Indiana in 1948.

The quartet sang such standards as "Moonglow" and "Mood Indigo." By the time Albers joined the Barbours and Flanigan in 1956, they had had several hit singles and a debut album, "Voices in Modern."

In addition to singing four-part harmony, they all played instruments, and Albers contributed performances on trumpet, mellophone and fluegelhorn.

Until 1982 he performed with the group, which had top 40 hits with "It's a Blue World," "Day by Day" and "Graduation Day," which the Beach Boys covered. Brian Wilson often cited the Four Freshmen as an influence on the California surf band's harmonizing sound.

John Kenneth Albers was born Dec. 10, 1924, in Woodbury, N.J., and served in the U.S. Army during World War II. He attended the Philadelphia Conservatory of Music and sang with the Stuarts Quartet before joining the Four Freshmen.

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