Inductees Archive

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Imperials

In 1964, The Beatles invaded America. At the same time, Jake Hess of the Statesmen Quartet decided to Hand-pick the best singers he could find to put together what he would call a “super group” that would be known as The Imperials: Hess, Armon Morales, Sherrill Nielsen, Gary McSpadden, and Henry Slaughter at piano. Six years later, The Beatles broke up. More than 30 years on, The Imperials and Armond Morales sail on. By the late ’60s, the Imperials had changed members substantively, with Hess, Nielsen, McSpadden and Slaughter replaced by Roger Wiles, Jim Muray, Terry Blackwood and Joe Moscheo. The group’s new look and sound drew criticism from some circles, but new friends and fans were just around the corner. They recorded and toured with Elvis Presley, as well as Jimmy Dean, with whom they appeared as regulars on his weekly TV show. Appearances in Las Vegas, Reno, Lake Tahoe and a myriad of other major TV guest shots of the day were commonplace in the early ’70s. But instead of pursuing a secular career like their contemporaries The Oak Ridge Boys, The Imperials made the pivotal decision to return to the gospel world, making a series of landmark recordings that not only raised the standards for the industry at large, but contributed a catalog of songs that remains among the most enduring of all of gospel music. Over the decades the Imperials have seen many member changes, including singers like Sherman Andrus, Russ Taff and Paul Smith, who have gone on to successful solo careers. The group released over 40 albums and has seen 14 of their songs hit #1. The Imperials have won 12 Grammys and 13 Dove Awards, and also had the distinction of being the first Christian act to perform on the Grammy Awards telecast. These were all fitting milestones at the time, for a group that took traditional southern gospel music farther than some thought it should go, and then pioneered a new kind of quartet, helping to define an emerging genre of contemporary Christian music.

 

Induction Year

1998

 

Formation

1963

 

Noted Members

  • Jake Hess
  • Armond Morales
  • Shaun Sherill Nielsen
  • Gary McSpadden
  • Henry Slaughter
  • Sherman Andrus
  • Russ Taff

 

Grammy Awards

Best Gospel Album for No Shortage

 

Dove Awards

17 awards out of 58 nominations

 

Video

The Imperials singing “Old Gospel Ship”