ANDERSON — For over 50 years the Lettermen have performed on stages around the world bringing tight-knit harmonies to thousands of fans.
The Lettermen are making a return engagement at the Paramount Theatre on Nov. 27 with the show starting at 7:30 p.m.
Over the years the Lettermen made the hits charts with songs such as “When I Fell in Love”, “Turn Around, Look at Me” and “Theme from a Summer Place.”
Donovan Tea has been a member of the Lettermen since 1984 and in terms of seniority with the group is only second to original member Tony Butala.
“Tony does show up from time to time,” Tea said. “He gets on a plane, shows up and sings a couple of songs. It’s always a surprise.”
Tea was singing in Las Vegas in 1984 when he was asked to sing with the Lettermen in Los Angeles.
“My joining the group happened very quickly,” he said. “I was honored to be asked to join a name group.”
Previously, Tea traveled with the Young Americans touring ensemble in the 1970s.
“It was a great experience, but after the Young Americans I didn’t want to sing with a group,” he explained. “You got stuck singing the same parts of the songs.”
“What’s neat about the Lettermen is we switch parts,” Tea said. “I never get bored being in the group. Everyone gets to be a lead singer.”
The Lettermen do a mix of old and new songs during their live performances. Tea said they can’t do all ballads, which the group is known for, because they have to keep it entertaining.
“We want the show to be like something we would want to see,” he said. “We want laughter, crying and tapping of feet.”
Tea said in the late 1950s the original Lettermen wanted to follow in the do-wop mode of music that was popular at the time.
“When they signed with Capital Records their first single was ‘That’s My Desire,’ ” he said. “The song wasn’t getting air play and by chance a disc jockey in Detroit played the B-side, which was ‘The Way You Look Tonight.’ ”
That became the Lettermen’s first hit.
He said back when “sock hops” were popular they would play the Lettermen songs at the end because of the opportunity to slow dance.
“It was nice to have that niche,” Tea laughed.
Tea said the Lettermen have a large fan base that sends requests asking for their favorite song.
“We try to please everyone,” he said.
The Lettermen cover a lot of songs that were made famous by other artists with a fan favorite being “Going Out of My Head.”
Tea’s favorite song is the “Theme from Summer Place,” which was an original hit for the group.
He lives in Nashville but married a girl from Indiana and returns to the Hoosier State on a regular basis.
“I’m excited about playing in Anderson,” Tea said. “I will have a lot of relatives at the theater.”
Tickets can be purchased by calling 765-642-1234.