Bill Burkette, the original lead singer of Turtle Creek-based vocal group The Vogues, died Thursday, his wife said.
Burkette grew up in Turtle Creek and lived most of his adult life in Murrsyville. He was 75 and had lymphoma, according to his wife of 54 years, Elaine.
She said he died at 7 a.m. at William Penn Care Center in Penn Township.
“He was always singing,” his wife said. “The singing was a great part of his life. That’s what he loved to do.”
The Vogues, who emerged from Turtle Creek High School, were known for the hit songs “Five O’Clock World,” “You’re the One” and “Turn Around, Look at Me.”
“You’re the One,” reached No. 4 on Billboard’s Top 100.
The Vogues in 1965
|Origin||Turtle Creek, Pennsylvania, United States|
|Genres||Rock and roll, Traditional pop, blue-eyed soul|
|Labels||Co & Ce, Reprise|
|Past members||Chuck Blasko
The Vogues are an American vocal group from Turtle Creek, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Pittsburgh. The original lineup comprised Bill Burkette (lead baritone), Don Miller (baritone), Hugh Geyer (first tenor), and Chuck Blasko (second tenor).
They are best known for their chart-topping singles “You’re The One“, “Five O’Clock World“, “Magic Town”, and “Turn Around, Look At Me“. In addition to touring the world, the group appeared on American Bandstand, The Tonight Show, and The Ed Sullivan Show. They were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2001.
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The group, originally named the Val-Aires, formed in 1958 at Turtle Creek High School. They signed with Pittsburgh manager Elmer Willet, who produced their first recording release “Which One Will It Be/Launie My Love”. DJ Porky Chedwick became a supporter booking the group for his rock and roll shows and record hops. Chedwick put them on bills with the Drifters, the Platters, and the Dells. Clark Race of KDKA radio promoted the group on his KDKA-TV dance show. Having strong regional sales it was picked up for national distribution by Coral Records.
After high school, several members of the group joined the Army while others went to college. A few years later with their enlistments completed and degrees in hand, they decided to record again. They pitched in $100 apiece to record a demo tape. They hired Nick Cenci, who had broken Lou Christie, to produce the recording. In 1965, Cenci produced recording sessions for the Val-Aires at Gateway Studios in Pittsburgh. The band recorded vocals for a cover of the Petula Clark song “You’re The One.” It was released on the band’s own Blue Star label. Cenci persuaded John Rook, program director of KQV, to play the single. With local airplay and sales Cenci signed them to the Co & Ce label as the “Vogues”. He had the single distributed nationally. The song became a national hit reaching number four on the Billboard Hot 100. Later in 1965, Cenci produced another Vogues recording session giving the world the no. 4 Billboard hit, “Five O’Clock World“.
In 1966 Co & Ce Records released the singles “Magic Town”, which reached no. 21 in February, and the no. 29 “The Land of Milk and Honey”. The singles “Summer Afternoon” and “Lovers Of The World Unite” were released on Co & Ce in 1967. Co & Ce leased the Vogues to Reprise Records (distributed by Warner Bros.) where they scored a no. 7 hit with the song “Turn Around, Look at Me”. They continued to hit the charts with cover versions of “My Special Angel”, “Till”, “No, Not Much”, “Earth Angel (Will You Be Mine)”, “Moments To Remember”, and Green Fields”.
In 1971 The Vogues signed a recording contract with Bell Records and recorded 3 songs (“Love Song”, “Take Time To Tell Her”, and “American Family”). 1972 saw the group release 1 song on Mainstream Records (“Need You” b/w “Greatest Show On Earth”). By 1973 The Vogues were now a trio (Burkette, Miller, and Blasko). Hugh Geyer had departed to spend time with his family. Now recording for 20th Century Records the group released 3 recordings (“My Prayer”, “Wonderful Summer”, and “Prisoner Of Love”). With little commercial success, these would be the last singles released by The Vogues.
By the time the 80s came around the trio (Don Miller left in 1974 and replaced by an endless list of vocalists) was doing less touring and was concentrating on Western Pennsylvania venues. Bill Burkette left in 1983, leaving only Chuck Blasko to carry on as The Vogues. At some point in the late 70s or early 80s the group’s manager had trademarked the name and assets of The Vogues. He then sold the trademark to another promoter who starting booking other quartets as The Vogues. The trademark was sold several times resulting in several groups of singers claiming to be The Vogues.
In 2000, the trademark was purchased by vocalist and Pittsburgh area native Stan Elich, who eventually would make this group the true Vogues. During these years Blasko continued to perform as The Vogues, and clash with the trademark group. At one point Blasko testified in front of Congress on The Truth In Music Act. A lawsuit filed by Blasko ended with the Pennsylvania court permitting Blasko’s Vogues to perform in 14 Western Pennsylvania counties and the trademark group to perform everywhere else in the world as The Vogues. Chuck Blasko’s Vogues continue to perform in Western Pennsylvania.
From 2004 until 2006, original member Hugh Geyer toured with Blasko’s group in the 14 Western Pennsylvania counties that Blasko’s group was permitted to tour in. After creative differences with Blasko, Geyer left that group at the end of 2006.
In March 2007, Geyer joined the national touring group of The Vogues of “trademark” owner Stan Elich. Geyer continued to perform with this group until his retirement in December 2012.
In May 2008, original lead vocalist Bill Burkette joined Geyer in touring the USA with the “trademark” Vogues. The members of this group included Burkette, Geyer, group owner Stan Elich, Troy Elich, and Jim Campagna. Stan Elich died in December 2010. His son Troy now owns the trademark “The Vogues”.
In 2010 The Vogues released a live album “The Vogues Sings The Hits Live” on the Desert Trax Music label. This marked the first time in 38 years that Burkette and Geyer recorded together.
The Vogues line-up, as of July 2017, is original lead singer Bill Burkette, Troy Elich, Royce Taylor, and fill in vocalist Bo Wagner. Taylor had previously been a member of The Vogues from 1991–97. Wagner is a former member of Blasko’s Pittsburgh group. Current band members are Dean Mastrangelo (Lead Guitar), Artie Deleonardis (drums), JR Wright (keyboards), and Rich Gooch (bass).
The original group made many TV appearances in the 1960s, including The Tonight Show, The Ed Sullivan Show, Shindig, The Red Skelton Show, The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, American Bandstand, Hullabaloo, and several appearances on The Mike Douglas Show.
- Meet the Vogues (1965)
- Five O’Clock World (1966)
- Turn Around, Look at Me (1968)
- Till (1969)
- Memories (1969)
- The Vogues’ Greatest Hits (1970)
- The Vogues Sing the Good Old Songs (1970)
From same album as A-side except where indicated
|Record Catalog Number||Notes||US||US AC||AU||Album|
|1959||“Launie, My Love”||“Which One Will It Be?”||Willett 114||as The VALAIRES||–||–||–||Non-album tracks|
|1960||“Launie, My Love”||“Which One Will It Be”||Coral 62177||Re-release, as The VAL-AIRES||–||–||–|
|1965||“You’re The One“||“Some Words” (Non-album track)||Blue Star B-229||–||–||–||–||Meet The Vogues|
|1965||“You’re the one“||“Some Words” (Non-album track)||Co & Ce 229||Re-release||4||–||55|
|1965||“Five O’Clock World“||“Nothing To Offer You” (from Meet The Vogues)||Co & Ce 232||–||4||–||64||Five O’Clock World|
|1966||“Magic Town”||“Humpty Dumpty” (from Five O’Clock World)||Co & Ce 234||–||21||–||–||The Vogues’ Greatest Hits|
|1966||“The Land Of Milk And Honey”||“True Lovers”||Co & Ce 238||–||29||–||–||Non-album tracks|
|1966||“Please Mr. Sun”||“Don’t Blame The Rain”||Co & Ce 240||–||48||–||–|
|1966||“That’s The Tune”||“Midnight Dreams”||Co & Ce 242||–||99||–||–|
|1967||“Summer Afternoon”||“Take A Chance On Me Baby”||Co & Ce 244||–||–||–||–|
|1967||“Lovers Of The World Unite”||“Brighter Days”||Co & Ce 246||–||–||–||–|
|1967||“Lovers Of The World Unite”||“Brighter Days”||MGM 13813||Leased by MGM||–||–||–|
|1968||“Just What I’ve Been Lookin’ For||“I’ve Got You On My Mind” (Non-album track)||Reprise 0663||–||–||–||–||The Vogues Sing The Good Old Songs and Other Hits|
|1968||“Turn Around, Look At Me“||“Then”||Reprise 0686||–||7||3||43||Turn Around, Look At Me|
|1968||“My Special Angel“||“I Keep It Hid”||Reprise 0766||–||7||1||36|
|1968||“Till“||“I Will”||Reprise 0788||–||27||5||–||Till|
|1969||“Woman Helping Man”||“I’ll Know My Love (By The Way She Talks)“||Reprise 0803||–||–||–||–|
|1969||“Woman Helping Man”||“No, Not Much”||Reprise 0803||Re-release||47/34||6/6||–|
|1969||“Earth Angel (Will You Be Mine)“||“P.S. I Love You”||Reprise 0820||–||42||7||–||Memories|
|1969||“Moments To Remember“||“Once In A While”||Reprise 0831||–||47||17||97|
|1969||“Green Fields“||“Easy To Say” (From The Vogues Sing The Good Old Songs and Other Hits)||Reprise 0844||–||92||19||–||The Vogues’ Greatest Hits|
|1969||“See That Girl”||“We Only Have Love” (Non-album track)||Reprise 0856||–||–||13||–|
|1970||“God Only Knows“||“Moody”||Reprise 0887||–||101||21||–||The Vogues Sing The Good Old Songs and Other Hits|
|1970||“Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye”||“Over The Rainbow” (Non-album track)||Reprise 0909||–||101||18||–|
|1970||“Theme (The Good Old Songs)”||“Come Into My Arms” (From Turn Around, Look At Me)||Reprise 0931||–||–||27||–|
|1970||“Since I Don’t Have You”||“I Know You As A Woman”||Reprise 0969||–||–||8||–|
|1971||“Love Song”||“We’re On Our Way”||Bell 991X||–||118||23||–||Non-album tracks|
|1971||“Take Time To Tell Her”||“I’ll Be With You”||Bell 45,127||–||–||38||–|
|1971||“An American Family”||“Gotta Have You Back”||Bell 45,158||–||–||–||–|
|1973||“My Prayer”||“I’ve Got To Learn To Live Without You”||20th Century 2041||–||–||31||–|
|1973||“Wonderful Summer”||“Guess Who”||20th Century 2060||–||–||47||–|
|1974||“As Time Goes By”||“Prisoner Of Love”||20th Century 2085||–||–||-/37||–|