George McCurn

About George McCurn

George "Ooppee" McCurn was once proclaimed by producer Jerry Moss as "one of the very greatest and sought-after bass singers in the gospel field." Originally from Chicago, McCurn's earliest known professional credit is not until 1948 when he joined the Kings of Harmony vocal quartet as a replacement for legendary gospel bassist Isaac "Dickie" Freeman. No recordings of McCurn singing with the Kings of Harmony are known to have survived, nor or is there any trace on record of a West-coast based group he briefly joined called the Gospel Harps. In 1950 George McCurn jumped at the chance to join the already-famous Fairfield Four, again replacing Freeman, and made his first recordings as their bassist for Dot in October of that year. McCurn appears on all of the Fairfield Four's Dot recordings except for the first dozen or so, which were made with Freeman.
McCurn stayed with the Fairfield Four until it broke up in late 1954, and utilized this opportunity to join another well-established group, The Pilgrim Travelers. By his own account, McCurn served five years with The Pilgrim Travelers, touring with them and appearing on the last batches of their Specialty recordings, even past the point when Lou Rawls had replaced founding tenor Kylo Turner and the group was re-christened "The Travelers." Finding himself released from full-time duty to the so-called "Travelers" by 1961, McCurn decided to take a break from gospel and joined on with The Ink Spots for a European tour that lasted until November, 1962. Upon his return McCurn hooked up in Los Angeles with producers Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss and their fledgling A&M record label. In January 1963, McCurn recorded his first solo single, "I'm Just a Country Boy", with Alpert, Moss and arranger Shorty Rogers on board. "I'm Just a Country Boy" was a very minor hit, entering the Billboard Hot 100 at position # 100 in the month of March 1963. McCurn's follow-up album, Country Boy Goes to Town!!!!!, was A&M LP 102, but it failed to find an audience. Country Boy Goes to Town!!!!! remains one of the scarcest of all albums issued on the A&M label, but it is also considered inordinately obscure and few collectors are even aware that it exists.
George McCurn seldom recorded afterward, but was hired for occasional sessions which required a deep bass singer as a backing vocalist; it doesn't appear that he ever returned to singing gospel music. By the time Don Williams had turned the song "I'm Just a Country Boy" into a bona fide hit in 1977, George McCurn had been out of the business for some time and was certifiably forgotten. McCurn died at age 65 in Los Angeles in 1985; among many musicians who praised George McCurn as "the greatest gospel bassist in the world" during his prime was singers Jesse Belvin and Sam Cooke. Neither of them would be around to mourn George McCurn at his passing. ~ Uncle Dave Lewis