Remembering the Four Teens
an Eau Claire barbershop quartet from yesteryear made it big
With so many talented musicians in the Chippewa Valley now, it’s no surprise that our history would also be filled with a diverse array of musical talent.
The Four Teens were an international touring group from the 40s and 50s that originated from Eau Claire. A high school barbershop quartet, The Four Teens formed in 1948 and was registered as an official quartet with the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America (SPEBSQSA).
The original members were John Steinmetz, Jim Chinnock, Don Lamont, and Gene Rehberg. Together, they performed and competed throughout the Midwest. In 1951, all four members enlisted in the Air Force, where they replaced Rehberg with Don Cahall. During this time, they appeared on The Bob Hope Show, right from the base. In 1951 and 1952, they won the SPEBSQSA District, Regional, and International Championships, allowing them to travel and perform in 48 states.
The next summer they joined the Air Force show “Tops in Blue,” which traveled throughout America and to countries such as Japan, Korea, and Greenland. After “Tops in Blue,” the quartet returned to base and replaced Lamont with Chicago native Rex Reeve.
After their release from the Air Force, the Four Teens launched a professional singing career. They created a new name, The Classmen, to use for most performances, but continued to use The Four Teens at barbershop shows. As The Classmen, they performed on radio, TV, and at hotels. The Classmen released a record entitled Wonder Why in November of 1955. The album features covers and original music including the songs Hello There and We are the Four Teens, which both have references to Eau Claire.
Recently, relatives of the quartet have taken the album and converted it into digital recordings, which we now have available online so this nugget of Eau Claire musical history can live on.