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Classics IV, 1968.
|Origin||Jacksonville, Florida, United States|
|Genres||Soft southern rock, pop rock|
|Associated acts||Atlanta Rhythm Section|
The Classics IV was a band formed in Jacksonville, Florida, United States, in 1965, given credit for beginning the "soft southern rock" sound. The band and its lead singer Dennis Yost are principally known for the hits "Spooky", "Stormy", and "Traces", released in 1967 to 1969, which have become cover standards.
Early days 
The group began as a Jacksonville cover band consisting of guitarists Buddy Buie, J.R. Cobb, Walter Eaton, keyboardist Joe Wilson, and singer Dennis Yost. Buie (as producer) and Cobb would form The Atlanta Rhythm Section with Candymen drummer Robert Nix (died on May 20, 2012, at the Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, at age 67 from complications following surgery in April; he suffered from diabetes and multiple myeloma), also from Jacksonville, and keyboardist Dean Daughtry in 1974. Yost 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, 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 began performing vocal hits such as "Sherry" by The Four Seasons.
The band was discovered performing in Daytona Beach by a booking agent who worked for Bill Lowery's operation in Atlanta. Lowery urged the band to relocate to Atlanta and quickly snagged the group a singles deal with Capitol. The Classics' debut single was "Pollyanna," a song written by another Lowery client, Joe South. Its style was starkly similar to that of the Four Seasons. Shortly after 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.
After the Capitol single flopped, Lowery got the group a deal with Imperial Records. Guitarists Cobb and Buie added lyrics to a jazz instrumental titled "Spooky," a regional hit for Atlanta saxophonist Mike Sharpe. The single made it to No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S. and #46 in the UK.
Drummer Kim Venable was brought in so Yost could move freely out front (Nix had been the drummer on their studio recordings). Daughtry replaced Wilson. The band changed its name to "The Classics IV featuring Dennis Yost" and enjoyed two more top-10 hits, "Stormy" (1968, No. 5) and "Traces" (1969, Hot 100 No. 2, Easy Listening No. 2). 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, No. 19). 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 L.A. where he drummed on numerous hit records and tours for Walter Egan, Juice Newton, Glenn Frey, Joe Walsh, Lindsey Buckingham, Etta James, and more.
"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.
They changed their name again, to "Dennis Yost and the Classics IV," and had one last hit, "What Am I Crying For?" (1972, No. 39) on MGM South. Cobb left and was replaced by Bradenton, Fla., guitarist Mack Doss.
Later career 
Dennis Yost was credited as the creator of the "Southern Soft Rock" sound. He was known as "the singer's singer" and "The Classic One" because of his smooth, unique voice, and was described as singing "with a tear in his voice". He was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 1993, an honor he coveted most, because Ray Charles, his favorite singer, was inducted a few years before.
Yost continued to perform with Classics IV for the next thirty years. During the 1990s the lineup included 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 the Nashville based group Steve Jarrell and "The Sons of The Beach Band". From 2000 to 2005 the lineup included Tom Vale (saxophone, backing vocals), Bill Johnson (keyboards), Brian Correll (guitar, backing vocals), Doug Reed (drums), and during 2005, Don Martin (bass), and Perry Williams (keyboards & sax at last 3 concerts). The final concert of "Dennis Yost" and the Classics IV was at Chenay Bay, St. Croix, Virgin Islands, on Sept. 24, 2005.
Injury and death of Dennis Yost 
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 benefit was originally conceived by Yost's close friend Jon "Bowser" Bauman, former vocalist with Sha Na Na. Many musical entertainers and some surprise guests from the 1950s through the 1970s performed some of their biggest chart-topping hits in tribute to Yost. Some of the artists performing that day were Denny Laine (The Moody Blues and Wings), Chuck Negron (previously of Three Dog Night), Ian Mitchell (Bay City Rollers), Pat Upton (Spiral Starecase), "Diamond" Dave Somerville, The Skyliners, Buzz Cason, Carl Dobkins Jr., Mark Vollman (The Turtles), and Classics IV guitarist Brian Correll. The concert did not significantly benefit Yost or his wife financially, as was 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 Dennis' accident, he chose Tom Garrett to replace him as lead singer for The Classics IV. The plan was for Dennis to make a few yearly "special appearances," and gradually have Tom take over as the leader of the band. However, Dennis was able to perform with them for only one appearance in 2008. Tom and Dennis worked closely together to develop the current lineup. He chose Tom to help him keep The Classics IV music going in the Classics IV tradition. Dennis would listen to the band on recorded CDs, and during that time Tom and Dennis became close friends. The band Dennis chose in 2007 to continue his legacy with The Classics IV trademark consisted of Tom Garrett as lead vocalist, Kevin Lloyd on bass, Tim Ridgeway on drums, Joe Sadler on guitar, Garard Motague III on flute and saxophone, and James Yoder on keyboards. In early 2012, due to health issues Garard Montague III was replaced on saxophone and flute by Paul Weddle.
Yost owned the rights to the Classics IV name for performing and recording. Cover versions of "Spooky" have been recorded by several artists including Dusty Springfield, Gary Walker and The Rain, The Velvet Monkeys, Atlanta Rhythm Section, Lydia Lunch, Daniel Ash, Jazz Butcher, Puppini Sisters, David Sanborn, Shock of Pleasure, Marc Antoine, Ronnie Von and Imogen Heap for the soundtrack of the film Just Like Heaven.
In 1969 The Ventures recorded an album track which featured an instrumental medley of "Spooky", "Traces" and "Stormy".
Diana Ross & The Supremes recorded a version of "Stormy" in early 1969, although it remained unreleased until the 1980s.
The Atlanta Rhythm Section hit the Top 20 with "Spooky" in 1979 on the album Underdog.
Bloodhound Gang used a base from "Spooky" in the song "Why's Everybody Always Pickin' on Me".
Ron Sexsmith's 1999 single "Still Time" samples "Traces".
- Spooky - Imperial 12371 - 1968
- Mamas And Papas/Soul Train - Imperial 12407 - 1968
- Traces - Imperial 12429 - 1969 (as Classics IV featuring Dennis Yost)
- Song - Imperial - 1970
- Golden Greats, Volume 1 - Imperial 16000 - 1969
- What Am I Crying For?/Rosanna/Make Me Believe It - MGM South - MSH-702 - 1972/73 (as Dennis Yost and The Classics IV)
- Lil' Bit Of Gold - Rhino R3 73004 - 1988 (this is one of Rhino's rare gold 3 inch CD singles featuring the band's four hits, "Spooky", "Traces", "Everyday With You Girl", and "Stormy") (as Classics IV featuring Dennis Yost)
- The Very Best of Classics IV - Capitol - 1988
- The Greatest Hits - EMI Special Products - 1992
- Best Of Dennis Yost & The Classics IV - Imperial/Capitol from the (Legendary Masters Series) 2003
- ' "Atmospherics" 28 hits of Dennis Yost and The Classics IV' Australian release 2003
- The soundtrack of "Six Feet Under" HBO series, "Spooky" 2004
- A New Horizon Classics IV label - CD and digital download 2011
- "Spooky" - Imperial 66259 - 1968, #3
- "Stormy" - Imperial 66328 - 1968, #5
- "Traces" - Imperial 66352 - 1969, #2
- "Everyday With You Girl" - Imperial 66378 - 1969, #19
- "Change Of Heart" - Imperial 66393 - 1969, #49
- "Midnight" - Imperial 66424 - 1969
- "The Funniest Thing" - Imperial 66439 - 1970
- "What Am I Crying For?" - MGM South 7002 - 1972, #39
- "Obituaries". Wellsfuneralhome.net. Retrieved 2012-10-18.
- Michael Huey. AllMusic. Retrieved on 2012-05-07.
- Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. pp. 218 & 256. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
- Associated Press, December 8, 2008 Classics IV singer Dennis Yost dies at 65; www.msnbc.msn.com