The Bobs

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The Bobs
OriginSan Francisco, California, United States
GenresNew wave, a cappella
Years active1980–2017
MembersRichard Greene
Matthew Stull
Dan Schumacher
Angie Doctor
Past membersGunnar Madsen
Janie Scott
Joe Finetti
Lori Rivera
Maureen Smith
Amy Engelhardt

The Bobs were an a cappella vocal group founded in San Francisco, California in the early 1980s. They moved to Seattle, Washington and were active recording and touring throughout the United States, Canada and Europe until their farewell show at the Barns at Wolf Trap in Vienna, VA, on October 21, 2017.[1]


Founding members Gunnar Madsen and Matthew Stull decided to form an a cappella group when they left their jobs as deliverers of singing telegrams in San Francisco.[2] Instead of singing more traditional doo-wop songs, The Bobs started out with original arrangements of their own songs and songs like "Helter Skelter" and "Psycho Killer" . Although two of their albums are dominated by songs written by others, the overwhelming majority of their repertoire is original, with songs discussing subjects such as lunar cattle farming, sleepy bus drivers, bumper stickers, laundry, hurricane-related flooding, graffiti, Oliver North, shopping-mall security guards, celebrity autographs, synaesthesia, post office violence, heart transplants, Heaven's Gate, spontaneous human combustion, turtles, rebellious footwear, tattoos, nicknames for genitalia, and felines intent on ruling the world.

Their arrangement of "Helter Skelter" was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1984.[3]

The Bobs have broken with a cappella tradition several times by including instruments. The majority of the 1995 album Plugged is backed by toy drums. Plugged also made heavy use of studio equipment to make the voices sound more like guitars and bass guitars. Coaster includes a rock rhythm section on one song. Rhapsody in Bob features their arrangement of Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" with pianist Bob Malone playing most of the original piano concerto as The Bobs become a vocal orchestra. But this original "band without instruments" usually uses just their mouths, hands, feet and "other body parts".

Members of the group are always credited with "Bob" as their middle name. The name is often described as an acronym for "Best of Breed", an award given out at dog shows.[4] Another story that the Bobs give is the name was shortened from "The Oral Bobs" in the first months the group performed together.[citation needed]

The Bobs supplied inter-gender wrestling champion Andy Kaufman with his iconic entrance theme, entitled March & Fanfare. The song was played at the beginning of the Kaufman's biopic, Man on the Moon.

Several anniversary concerts were held in Berkeley, California in January 2006 to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Bobs.[citation needed] These concerts featured seven of the eight singers who have ever been in the band.

A documentary about the group, called Sign My Snarling Movie: 25 Years of The Bobs was released in summer 2007.

The Bobs gave their final performance on October 21st, 2017 at The Barns at Wolf Trap in Vienna, VA. It was broadcast live at

Other appearances[edit]

The Bobs performed "Psycho Killer" on the revival of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour in 1988.

In the Jason Alexander movie For Better or Worse, the Bobs performed most of the soundtrack, including the background music that occasionally interacted with the story. During the 1995 Emmys they performed a medley of television themes with Alexander.

In 1996, the Bobs performed several original songs and provided the character voices for the online video game Castle Infinity.

The Bobs' recording of the song "Barbara Ann" was used in the 1993 movie Surf Ninjas.

The Bobs' recording of the Jimmy Cliff/Guilly Bright song "Sittin' In Limbo" was featured in the 1991 movie "Cool As Ice."




  • The Bobs on PBS's Lonesome Pine Special (1989)
  • The Bobs on PBB]'s Lonesome Pine Special - ISOBOBS (with the dance group ISO) (1990)
  • Live at the 20th Century (1998)
  • The Bobs Sing! (And other Love Songs) (2000)
  • Sign My Snarling Movie: 25 Years of the Bobs (2007)

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Announcement on, accessed 2018 Mar 24.
  2. ^ The Bobs at "Primarily A Cappella" Accessed 2010 January 14.
  3. ^ 1984 Grammy award nomination, Best Vocal Arrangement for Two or More Voices, Richard Greene, Gunnar Madsen - Helter Skelter (The Bobs) LA Times, "The Envelope" awards database, accessed 2010 Jan 13.
  4. ^ Mentioned in the Review of "My I'm Large" at [1], accessed 2018 June 14.