By Carrie Steinweg
LANSING, Ill. (December 6, 2021) – The Lansing Public Library hosted the second in its series of winter after-hours concerts on Friday featuring the Spaniels Forever, a quartet that performs Doo-wop, R&B, and gospel music — and on December 3, a few holiday tunes.
Early hits of the Spaniels
The Spaniels joined together in the early 1950s and the teens were signed to Vee-Jay Records. Their first big hit, “Baby It’s You,” reached No. 10 on the billboard charts in 1953 and the following year they recorded their best known song, “Goodnight Sweetheart, Goodnight.” Although the song got to No. 24 on Variety’s pop chart and rose to No. 5 on Billboard’s R & B chart, its popularity soared further in the 1970s after Sha Na Na released a version and the original version was featured in the movie American Graffiti. The last song performed at the library concert was appropriately, “Goodnight Sweetheart Goodnight.”
Local connection and changes over time
That 1954 hit that became their signature song was written by James “Pookie” Hudson and Calvin Carter. The two attended Gary’s Roosevelt High School and for a time Hudson was in a trio called the Three Bees. Also a member of the Three Bees was Billy Shelton, who was on the library stage for Friday’s concert. Shelton joined the The Spaniels in the 1980s and he still performs the band’s hits around the Midwest with the Spaniels Forever at age 87.
The band has seen many personnel changes over the years, but the current incarnation continues a connection to the men whose melodies became a soundtrack for baby boomers at a time when the music industry was full of peppy and happy tunes that listeners could swing, jive, and slow dance to. Not only has Shelton continued to sing the tunes that he and Pookie sang in the hallways of Roosevelt High School, but band member Dan Porter is the son of Don Porter, who was also a member of The Spaniels. Other members of the quartet are Patrick Pitre and Gene Stewart.
Taking a Trip Back in Time
For many in the audience, the set list provided a blast from the past. “It was beautiful and a very nice show. It took me back a few years,” said Marian Bullock.
A sampling of the concert is below:
Resident Jen Yos was in the audience and also appreciated the dose of nostalgia. “The Temptations songs, in particular, brought me back to the 1960s. I had that album that had all the songs they did tonight,” she said.
“I wish it would have just continued and continued. It was absolutely unbelievable. They are so good,” said Beverly Jacobson.
A video of the Spaniels Forever performing at the library in 2020 can be viewed here.
For more information on library programming, visit the Lansing Public Library’s website. The library is located at 2750 Indiana Avenue.