The Classics IV is an American band formed in Jacksonville, Florida, United States, in 1965. The band is often credited for establishing the "soft southern rock" sound. The band, founded by Dennis Yost, is known mainly for the hits "Spooky", "Stormy", and "Traces", released 1967 to 1969, which have become cover standards.
Classics IV, 1968. L-R: Dennis Yost, JR Cobb, Joe Wilson, and Walter Eaton
|Origin||Jacksonville, Florida, U.S.|
|Genres||Soft rock, southern rock, blue-eyed soul|
|Labels||Imperial Records, MGM Records|
|Associated acts||Atlanta Rhythm Section|
1965-1966: Early DaysEdit
The group began as The Classics, a Jacksonville cover band consisting of guitarist J. R. Cobb, bassist Walter Eaton, keyboardist Joe Wilson, and drummer Dennis Yost, who had previously been a member of The Echoes. The name "The Classics" came from the Classic drum set Yost owned. He was known in the Georgia/Florida area as the "stand-up drummer" because he played standing up. The Classics played Ventures covers, as well as instrumental versions of "Misty" and "Summertime". People started requesting vocals, so Dennis would say "I can sing that", and that was the beginning of the group's new direction.
The group was discovered performing in Daytona Beach by talent agent Alan Diggs, who became the band's manager in partnership with Paul Cochran and later, Buddy Buie. The pair had formed an alliance with manager-publisher Bill Lowery and urged the band to relocate to Atlanta. With the help of Lowery, they quickly snagged the group a singles deal with Capitol Records. The Classics' debut single was "Pollyanna", a song written by Lowery client Joe South and sung in a style which resembled that of the Four Seasons. Shortly after that they received a letter informing them that there was already a recording act named "The Classics", who had a single titled "Till Then". In an effort to differentiate themselves, Yost and company added "IV" to the name because there were (at that time) four members.
The Classics IV performed "Pollyanna" on Dick Clark's TV Show Where the Action Is! and "Pollyanna" was a regional hit. But when WABC (AM) radio in New York started playing it they received a call from the Four Seasons' manager demanding they cease airplay of "Pollyanna" or they would no longer get exclusives on future Four Seasons recordings, among other disincentives. The group landed a deal with Imperial Records. Guitarists Cobb and Buie added lyrics to a jazz instrumental titled "Spooky", a 1966 regional hit for Atlanta saxophonist Mike Sharpe. The single made it to No. 3 on the Hot 100 in February 1968 in the U.S. and No. 46 in the UK.
Drummer Kim Venable (born Clayton Kimbal Venable on May 5, 1944 in Eclectic, Alabama, died June 12, 2016) was brought in so Yost could move freely out front (drummer Dennis St. John and bassist Emory Gordy were the musicians on their studio recordings). Wilson left the band and was replaced by Candymen member Dean Daughtry. The band changed its name to The Classics IV featuring Dennis Yost and enjoyed two more top-10 hits, "Stormy" (1968, Hot 100 No. 5) and "Traces" (1969, Hot 100 No. 2, Easy Listening No. 2), the latter of which Emory Gordy also co-wrote. Cobb and Buie borrowed heavily from 1936's "Everyday with Jesus" by Robert C. and Wendell P. Loveless to pen the top 20 follow-up "Everyday with You Girl" (1969, Hot 100 No. 19, Easy Listening No. 12).
"Spooky", "Stormy", and "Traces" each sold more than one million units, and all were awarded gold discs by the R.I.A.A. Those three hits plus "Everyday With You Girl" also appeared in the 1977 film The Chicken Chronicles.
In 1970, Cobb, Buie and Daughtry formed what would become Atlanta Rhythm Section with Candymen drummer Robert Nix. However, the former two remained active as writers and producers for the band. After recovering from a car accident which happened in May 1969, Eaton left the band and later on became an electronics expert, working for Unisys.
1970-1975: Later YearsEdit
With Yost as the remaining original member left, the group changed its name again to Dennis Yost and the Classics IV. After Imperial was absorbed into United Artists Records, the group signed with MGM South. In 1971, Michael Huey became the drummer after working for other Lowery artists Tommy Roe and the Swingin' Medallions. During this period Huey also became the staff drummer for Lowery Studios and later moved to Los Angeles.
Their subsequent releases were less successful, despite their final top 40 hit, "What Am I Crying For?", which peaked at No. 39 in 1972. By this time, the partnership between Cochran and Buie ended. After the release of "My First Day Without Her" in 1975, Yost disbanded the group and returned to Florida.
1975-2001: After Classics IVEdit
In 1977, Yost returned to performing under the Holiday Inn circuit, this time solely under his own name or "The Classic One". By this time, he lost the rights to the Classics IV name. The same year, Eaton got a job on Jacksonville’s computer system in 1977 and later on worked for the City Hall. He is currently a professor at Florida Community College. During the mid 70s to early 80s, the Atlanta Rhythm Section scored a number of Top 40 hits, notably their rendition of "Spooky", "Imaginary Lover" and "Do It or Die".
During the 1990s, he used many backup bands including Steve "Stevie G" Guettler (guitar, vocals), Jeff "JT" Strickler (bass guitar, vocals), Steve Farrell (guitar, vocals), Mike Wilson (keyboards, vocals), and Wes Armstrong (drums, vocals) of the Atlanta-based group The Rockerz. He also used Nashville-based Steve Jarrell and The Sons of the Beach Band, as well as the Hitts out of Virginia Beach, Virginia, with Ed Hutchison (guitar, backing vocals), Ramon Gonzalez (keyboards, backing vocals), Andy Crosswell (drums), and David Voss.
In 2001, Yost underwent successful throat surgery for a condition that had severely impaired his singing voice. Later on, he started touring under the Classics IV name, which he gained the rights to the name.
2006-2008: Death of YostEdit
On July 11, 2006, Yost fell down a flight of stairs and suffered serious brain trauma. To assist Yost and his wife with their medical bills, a benefit concert was held on March 25, 2007, at Rhino's Live in Cincinnati, Ohio. The concert did not significantly benefit Yost or his wife financially as hoped, expenses far exceeded the money raised, leaving the event in the red. However, it was a huge boost for Yost to visit with so many old friends.
After the accident, Tom Garrett was chosen by Yost to replace him as lead singer for the Classics IV. The plan was for Yost to make a few yearly "special appearances", and gradually have Garrett take over as the leader of the band. However, Yost was able to perform with them for only one appearance in 2008. 
The current line-up of Classics IV consists of Garrett as lead vocalist, Kevin Lloyd on bass, James Yoder on keyboards, Paul Weddle on saxophone, John Kerner on guitar, and Shawn White on drums. The group regularly tours to this day.
|Year||Album||Label & number||US Billboard|
|1968||Spooky||Imperial LP-9371 (Mono); LP-12371 (Stereo); reissue: Liberty LN-10182 (1982)||140|
|Mamas and Papas/Soul Train||Imperial LP-12407; reissue: Liberty LN-10221 (1984)||196|
|Golden Greats Volume 1 (compilation)||Imperial LP-16000||50|
|1973||What Am I Crying For||MGM South MSH-702||–|
- Stormy – Sunset SUS-5323 – 1970
- The Very Best of Classics IV – United Artists UA-LA446-E – 1975; reissue: Liberty LN-10109 (1981); CD reissue: Capitol/EMI 91472 (1988)
- Classics – Liberty LN-10260 – 1985
- Lil' Bit of Gold – Rhino R3-73004 – 1988 (special 3-inch CD single featuring the band's 4 major charting hits under the 'Classics IV featuring Dennis Yost' name: "Spooky", "Traces", "Everyday With You Girl", "Stormy"); regular CD reissue: CEMA Special Markets CDLL-57489 (1991)
- Greatest Hits (10 Best Series) – CEMA Special Markets CDLL-57402 – 1991
- The Best of Dennis Yost & the Classics IV (Legendary Masters Series) – Taragon TARCD-1091 (released through EMI-Capitol Music Special Markets) – 2002
- Atmospherics: A Complete Career Collection 1966–1975 – Raven RVCD-134 (Australian release) – 2003
- What Am I Crying For, Dennis Yost: Going Through The Motions – The Classics IV Label #101 – 2011 [2LP-on-1CD]
- Traces, Song – The Classics IV Label #102 – 2011 [2LP-on-1CD]
- Spooky, Mamas and Papas/Soul Train – The Classics IV Label #103 – 2011 [2LP-on-1CD]
- A New Horizon – The Classics IV Label/CD Baby – 2011 (CD/digital download)
- One Stormy Night: The Classics IV Live at the Ritz – The Classics IV Label/CD Baby – 2015 (CD/digital download)
- Dennis Yost: "Paint My Blues" (rec. 1991); included on Voices for the Voiceless — 2015 (digital download)
- Spooky, Mamas and Papas/Soul Train, Traces, Song – Beat Goes On/BGO 5017261213679 (UK release) – 2018 [4LP-on-2CD set] (their first 4 albums reissued/remastered)
|Year||Single (A-side, B-side)
Both sides from same album except where indicated
|Label & number||Chart positions||Album|
b/w "Cry Baby"
As "The Classics"
|Capitol 5710||106||–||Non-album tracks|
b/w "Nothing to Lose"
b/w "Poor People"
b/w "Strange Changes"
|Imperial 66293||90||–||Mamas and Papas/Soul Train|
|"Mama's and Papa's"
b/w "24 Hours of Loneliness"
b/w "Mary, Mary Row Your Boat" (from Spooky)
|"Everyday with You Girl"
b/w "Sentimental Lady"
|"Change of Heart"
b/w "Rainy Day" (from Traces)
|Imperial 66393||49||25||Golden Greats Volume 1|
b/w "The Comic"
|1970||"The Funniest Thing"
b/w "Nobody Loves You But Me"
|"God Knows I Loved Her"
b/w "We Miss You"
|"Where Did All the Good Times Go"
b/w "Ain't It the Truth"
b/w "Pick Up the Pieces"
|United Artists 50805||–||–|
|1972||"It's Time for Love"
b/w "Most of All" (from Song)
|United Artists 50777||–||31||Non-album track|
|"What Am I Crying For"
b/w "All in Your Mind"
|MGM South 7002||39||7||What Am I Crying For|
b/w "One Man Show"
|MGM South 7012||95||35|
|"Make Me Believe It"
b/w "Save the Sunlight"
|MGM South 7016||–||–|
|"Love Me or Leave Me Alone"
b/w "I Knew It Would Happen"
|MGM South 7020||–||–||Non-album tracks|
|"It's Now Winter's Day"
b/w "Losing My Mind"
|MGM South 7027||–||–|
|1975||"My First Day Without Her"
b/w "Lovin' Each Other"
- "Lead singer of '60s group the Classics IV dies". Los Angeles Times. December 9, 2008. Retrieved January 26, 2017.
- Colin Larkin, ed. (1997). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music (Concise ed.). Virgin Books. p. 269. ISBN 1-85227-745-9.
- Tamarkin, Jeff (January 2, 2018). "The Classics IV Trio: 'Spooky,' 'Stormy' & 'Traces'". Best Classic Bands. Retrieved September 2, 2020.
- Miller, Zell (1996). They Heard Georgia Singing. Mercer University Press. pp. 310–312. ISBN 9780865545045. Retrieved September 2, 2020 – via Google Books.
- Williams, John; White Jr., Andy (2019). Atlanta Pop in the 50s, 60s and 70s. Arcadia Publishing. pp. 95–99. ISBN 9781467138727. Retrieved September 2, 2020 – via Google Books.
- "Classics IV - Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 27 October 2017.
- Clayton Kimbal "Kim" Venable 1944 - 2016 Obituary access date March 4, 2018
- Patton, Charlie (December 13, 2008). "Remembering the (real) Classics". The Florida Times-Union. Retrieved August 22, 2020.
- Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. pp. 218 & 256. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
- "Michael Huey - Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 27 October 2017.
- James, Gary (July 2, 2019). "Gary James' Interview With Tom Garrett Of The Classics IV". Classic Bands. Retrieved August 22, 2020.
- Associated Press, December 8, 2008 Classics IV singer Dennis Yost dies at 65; www.msnbc.msn.com
- Spotlight Central (July 2, 2019). "The 2019 Happy Together Tour: LIVE! at BergenPAC". New Jersey Stage. Retrieved August 22, 2020.
- Whitburn, Joel (2011). Top Pop Singles 1955–2010. Record Research, Inc. p. 945. ISBN 978-0-89820-188-8.
- "Music Archive: Dennis Yost & Classics Four ~ Song (1970)". Musicofsixties.blogspot.com. 15 February 2013. Retrieved 27 October 2017.