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In June 1974, a Preston Organist, Alfred Mee, saw a TV show called Short Back & Sides. The late Roy Castle introduced a Barbershop Chorus, visitors from USA, who demonstrated 4 part unaccompanied singing in the Barbershop style. Several quartets were also featured and Alf Mee was hooked on this new-found sound. The American representative, Sam Kennedy, announced at the end of the TV show, if anyone was interested, to meet him afterwards.

Alf decided to write to the programme presenter, the late Julian Orchard, who passed on the letter to an existing club at Brighton. Unknown to Alf, a British Association of Barbershop Singers (BABS) had been formed in February 1974, comprising Brighton, Crawley, Reading and Tyneside. After several letters had been exchanged, some songs arranged in the Barbershop style were sent to Preston. Alf lost no time in trying out this “new” type of harmony on the Church choir of The Holy Family where he was the organist.

November 1974 the Preston group had thirteen singers. Their very first Barbershop song was Honey Little Lize. As performances improved, the Preston singers decided to apply to the British Association of Barbershoppers, (as it was then titled) for membership.

20 January 1975, a letter from Den Tyrell announced that the Preston club had been unanimously accepted into the association.

By now clubs also existed at Bristol, Leeds, Sunderland, Liverpool, Stockport, Christchurch and Margate. In 1999, the list of Barbershop singing clubs reached a total of 56 clubs and the figure is still growing. In addition to the British Association, similar societies exist in Australia, Germany, Holland, Ireland, New Zealand, Sweden and South Africa and the biggest by far is the American Society with almost 30,000 singers. Other groups are in Spain and Russia, even Japan!

It has been said that Barbershop Singers belong to  THE WORLD’S BIGGEST SINGING SOCIETY FOR MEN.

How We Began

More History

1974 - 1993 in pictures

1994 - 2014 in pictures