The Three Suns
The group was formed in 1939 by brothers Al Nevins (guitar) and Morty Nevins (accordion) and their cousin, radio and vaudeville veteran Artie Dunn (vocals, electronic organ). They became a popular nightclub attraction; during a New York engagement in 1944, they were signed to appear in short musical films for the Soundies movie jukeboxes. They performed nine songs for the cameras.
A review in Billboard in 1942 addressed the group's potential. Referring to a December 13, 1941, remote broadcast from New York's Hotel Piccadilly on NBC Red, Dick Carter wrote: "Here was something out of the ordinary, and very welcome, too. The Three Suns are an electric organ, an accordion and guitar, and they produce some sensational musical effects."
In 1944, The Three Suns scored their first hit record, "Twilight Time"; their version was strictly instrumental and did not feature the lyrics written later by Buck Ram. "Twilight Time" sold over four million copies and was awarded a gold record.
This was followed by "Peg o' My Heart", which was one of the best-selling records of 1947 in the United States. The group was featured in Alfred Hitchcock's Rope (1948) performing an off-screen "radio sequence", and in Two Gals and a Guy (1951). The band is also notable in that they were reputed to have been the favorite musical group of former First Lady Mamie Eisenhower.
During the 1950s the group continued to play "live" dates with the same personnel, but their recording sessions would often have studio musicians substituting for one or another, because keyboardist Artie Dunn did not read music and guitarist Al Nevins became more interested in the production end of the recording business. The group's popularity waned as rock and roll became popular, but the group reinvented itself by using its RCA Victor recording sessions as an audio laboratory, employing additional instruments and novel stereophonic effects. These new arrangements became popular among fans of lounge music and exotica. Al Nevins remained with RCA Victor as a producer and arranger until his death in 1965; Morty Nevins then hired studio musicians Fred Mendelssohn and Vinnie Bell and recorded a new stereo album for Musicor in 1966, using the Three Suns name.
- Founding members
- Artie Dunn — vocals, organ (died January 15, 1996, age 73)
- Al Nevins — guitar (died January 25, 1965, age 49)
- Morty Nevins — accordion (died July 23, 1990, age 63)
- Later members
- George Barnes - guitar
- Johnny Buck (Bucky Pizzarelli) — guitar
- Joe Negri — guitar
- Joe Vento — accordion, piano
- Johnny Romano — guitar
- Tony Lovello — accordion
- Del Casher (Del Kacher) — guitar
- Vincent Bell - guitar
- Fred Mendelsohn - organ
The first records released by The Three Suns, during the 1940s and 1950s, were 78 rpm. 1950 saw RCA Victor's release of their first 10-inch LP. Between 1950-1954, 10-inch albums were released. In 1955, The Three Suns released their first 12-inch LP Soft & Sweet and in 1958 released their first stereo LP. In 1956, RCA started recording in stereo. From 1958 until 1969, RCA Victor mixed two versions for each LP release with the prefixes "LPM" for mono and "LSP" for stereo; however there are some stereo releases with mono counterparts that were released before 1958. There may be double entries in the following list for that reason. RCA changed their prefix to reflect the discontinuation of mono in the early 1970s.
The Three Suns recorded a number of sides for the V-Disc label in the 1940s, which were only issued by the US Government to the USO units overseas. These sides were reissued on a two-CD set in 1997 by IMC Licencing. Most of the titles were not sequenced on the CD as they appeared on the original 78's.
- Twilight Time (Majestic, M2, 1944) (10 inch)
- Beyond the Blue Horizon (Fox Trot Vocal Chorus by Artie Dunn) / Crazy Rhythm (Instrumental Fox Trot) - (DECCA, 69638 & 69636, 1947) (10 inch)
- Twilight Time (Varsity, 6001, 1950) (10 inch)
- Midnight Time (Varsity, 6048, 1950) (10 inch)
- You and the Night and the Music (RCA Victor, 47-4202A, 1951) (7 INCH 45 RPM)
- Yours is My Heart Alone (RCA Victor, 47-4202B, 1951) (7 INCH 45 RPM)
- Twilight Time (Royale, 1, 1951) (10 inch)
- Midnight Time (Royale, 29, 1951) (10 inch)
- Three Quarter Time (RCA Victor, LPM-3, 1951) (10 inch)
- Hands Across The Table (RCA Victor, lpm-28, 1951)(10 inch)
- Twilight Moods (RCA Victor, LPM-3012, 1952) (10 inch)
- The Three Suns Present (RCA Victor, LPM-3034, 1952) (10 inch)
- Busy Fingers (RCA Victor, LPM-3040, 1952)
- Christmas Party (RCA Victor, LPM-3056, 1952) (10 inch)
- Soft and Sweet (RCA Victor, 1955) U.S. #13
- Sounds of Christmas (RCA Victor, LPM-1132, 1955)
- Twilight Time (RCA Victor, LPM-1171, 1956)
- My Reverie (RCA Victor, LPM-1173, 1956)
- Slumber Time (RCA Victor, LPM-1219, 1956)
- High Fi and Wide (RCA Victor, 1956) U.S. #19
- Easy Listening (RCA Victor LPM-1316, 1956)
- Midnight for Two (RCA Victor, 1957) U.S. #16
- Malaguena (RCA Victor lpm-1220, 1956)
- Things I Love in Hi-Fi (RCA Victor, LPM/LSP-1543, 1958)
- Let's Dance With The Three Suns (RCA Victor, LPM/LSP-1578, 1958)
- Happy Go Lucky Sound (RCA Victor, 1958)
- My Reverie (RCA Victor, LSP-1173, 1958)
- Love in the Afternoon (RCA Victor, LPM/LSP-1669, 1959)
- Having a Ball With The Three Suns (RCA Victor, LPM/LSP-1734, 1959)
- Swingin' on a Star (RCA Victor, LPM/LSP-1964, 1959)
- A Ding Dong Dandy Christmas (RCA Victor, LPM/LSP-2054, 1959)
- At the Candlelight Cafe (RCA Camden, 1959)
- Twilight Memories (RCA Victor, LPM/LSP-2120, 1960)
- On a Magic Carpet (RCA Victor, LPM/LSP-2235, 1960)
- Twilight Time (RCA Victor, LPC-110, 1961) (COMPACT 33 DOUBLE)
- Dancing on a Cloud (RCA Victor, LPM/LSP-2307, 1961)
- Fever & Smoke (RCA Victor LPM/LSP-2310, 1961)
- In Orbit (Rondo, 1962)
- Movin' 'N' Groovin' (RCA Victor LPM/LSP-2532, 1962)
- Warm and Tender (RCA Victor LPM/LSP-2617, 1962)
- Everything Under the Sun (RCA Victor, LPM/LSP-2715, 1963)
- One Enchanted Evening (RCA Victor LPM/LSP-2904, 1963)
- A Swinging Thing (RCA Victor LPM/LSP-2963)
- Country Music Shindig (RCA Victor LPM/LSP-3354)
- Fun in the Sun (RCA Victor LPM/LSP-2437)
- Continental Affair (RCA Camden CAL 573)
- The Best of The Three Suns (RCA Victor LPM/LSP-3447(e), 1966)
- 16 Greatest Hits (Musicor, MM2090/MS3090, 1966)
- This Is The Three Suns (RCA Victor VPS-6075, 1971)
- Nine Soundies musicals (1944)
- Rope (1948) directed by Alfred Hitchcock; offscreen performers in radio sequence
- Two Gals and a Guy (1951)
- Cavalcade of Stars (1950) episode 1.65
- The Ed Sullivan Show (1950) episodes 3.38 and 3.39
- The Kate Smith Hour (1953) December 29, 1953 episode, which mentions them as having appeared on previous episodes
- Captain Chesapeake (1971 to 1990) The theme song was the Bob Crosby tune "Stumbling" by The Three Suns. This theme was played from a 33 rpm at 45 rpm speed.
- Carter, Dick (January 3, 1942). "On the Air: The Three Suns" (PDF). Billboard. p. 14. Retrieved 26 February 2015.
- The Three Suns at Allmusic
- Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 53. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
- Joel Whitburn, The Billboard Albums, 6th edn (2006), p. 1052.
- Billboard, Allmusic