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The Founders

Chris Parker joined the University of Illinois Varsity Men’s Glee Club as a graduate student in the fall of 1968, the same year William Olson began his long tenure as director of the VMGC. Parker had been an undergrad at the University of Michigan, where he had sung in the Men’s Glee Club and in its acapella octet, The Friars.
Almost immediately after getting involved in the VMGC, Parker started putting forth the idea that the Glee Club needed an octet. If memory serves, his project was greatly advanced when the VMGC traveled to Ann Arbor that autumn (1968) for a joint concert with the Michigan club, and everyone got to see The Friars in action. Parker recruited Bruce Johnson, ’70, who sat next to him in the second tenor section, and several other willing volunteers: basses Erick Johnson, ’68 (a fifth-year engineering student), and Carl Nelson, ’71; a baritone, Clark Breeze, ’71 (whom Johnson joined on most of the octet’s baritone parts); and first tenors Dennis Grube, ’71, and John Thompson, ’69. The other second tenor (with Parker) was probably Steve Wheeler or Tom Stovall. As was mentioned in the brief history put together in 1994 for the 25th anniversary reunion, these founders collectively cannot remember for sure who the eighth “O.O.G.” (Original Other Guy) was, although other “R.E.O.G.’s” (Real Early Other Guys) who joined the octet and kept it going during the first or second year, in addition to Stovall and Wheeler, included Dave Krusemark, Dave Galloway, Jerry Hicks and Joe Brown.

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