The Mellomen were a popular singing quartet active from the late 1940s through the mid-1970s. The group was founded by Thurl Ravenscroft and Max Smith in 1948. The Mellomen recorded under a variety of names, including Big John & The Buzzards, The Crackerjacks, The Lee Brothers, and The Ravenscroft Quartet. They were sometimes credited as The Mellowmen, The Mello Men, or The Mellow Men. They sang backup to some of the best-known artists of the day, including Rosemary Clooney, Bing Crosby, Doris Day, Arlo Guthrie, Frankie Laine, Peggy Lee, Elvis Presley, and Jo Stafford.
In addition to backing up popular singers, their solo work is part of many Disney films such as Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Lady and the Tramp and The Jungle Book as well as numerous animated shorts, including Trick or Treat (1952), Pigs is Pigs (1954), Paul Bunyan (1958), and Noah's Ark (1959). Their work for Disney also led to numerous television appearances, beginning with the Disneyland television show episode Cavalcade of Songs, originally broadcast February 16, 1955. The Mellomen were also featured frequently on Disneyland Records, which released their 1957 album Meet Me Down on Main Street. They also sang "The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh" theme and the introduction of Zorro. Henry Calvin, who portrayed Sergeant Garcia on that television series, also sang and released a version of the "Zorro" theme song. (A longer version of the Zorro Theme, recorded by the female trio, The Chordettes, became a Top Ten hit). This quartet performed singing voices for the elephants along with James Patrick O'Malley in The Jungle Book.
They sang on several films with Elvis Presley, beginning with It Happened at the World's Fair. Elvis wanted the Jordanaires to perform for the film but they were unavailable, so The Mellomen were called in to sing One Broken Heart For Sale and Cotton Candy Land. The Mellomen later backed up Elvis on the title song for the film Roustabout as well as on most of the sound track for Paradise, Hawaiian Style. In 1969, The Mellomen appeared with Elvis in the film The Trouble with Girls, as a gospel group called The Bible Singers.
The members of the Mellomen were
- Thurl Ravenscroft (bass)
- Bill Lee (baritone bass)
- Max Smith (2nd tenor, 1948–1966)
- Bob Hamlin (lead tenor, 1948–1955)
- Bob Stevens (lead tenor, 1955–1961)
- Bill Cole (lead tenor, 1961-1970s)
- Gene Merlino (2nd tenor, 1966-1970s).
- Alice in Wonderland: Card Painters
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: Honeypot Quartet
- Horton Hears a Who!: Wickersham Brothers
- Zorro: Chorus
- Lady and the Tramp: Dogs in Pound
- Gay Purr-ee: The Shadow Cats
- "The Mellomen" at All Things Thurl (an authorized fan site, to which Thurl Ravenscroft contributed)
- Elvis's Backup Singers
- "DisneylandRecords.com". Retrieved March 31, 2014.