New Haven, Connecticut, is known for its great R&B harmony
groups, including the Five Satins, Nutmegs, Four Haven Knights and Starlarks.
In the early fifties, most New Haven R&B groups were black. In 1956, a
white group called the Academics changed all that.
The Academics began singing as teenagers. Ron Marone
(baritone), Marty Ganter (second tenor), Richie “Goose” Greenberg (bass),
Billy Greenberg (tenor), and Dave Fisher (tenor) all went to Hillhouse High
School in New Haven. They took their name from their high school nickname.
The Academics practiced songs like “I’m Yours” by the Flamingos, “At My Front
Door” by the El Dorados and “Darla My Darlin” by the G-Clefs.
New Haven attorney, Joel Alderman, who was also a news reporter
at radio station WELI-AM in New Haven liked their sound and agreed to manage
them. Alderman also managed the Starlarks and had recorded that group on his
own Elm label. Alderman brought the Academics to WELI disc jockey Carl
Loucks who was impressed with their sound and encouraged them to record. They
were taken in to the studios of WELI to record two songs that Marty Ganter had
written – “Too Good to be True” b/w “Heavenly Love” The songs were released on
a new label Joel Alderman formed called Anchor Records. (The label
name was later changed to Ancho to avoid trademark infringement with
another label). Thanks to Carl Loucks and Jim Gallant, host of a daily TV
show called Connecticut Bandstand, “Too Good to be True” became the #1 record
in New Haven.
After “Too Good To Be True,” was released, Charlie Luth
replaced Goose Greenberg in the group. The Academics’ second record on
Ancho was “Darla My Darlin” [led by Ronnie Marone] b/w “At My Front Door”
[led by Dave Fisher]. Instrumentation on the two Ancho releases was
provided by the Kingsmen Quintet who also recorded an instrumental on the
The Academics’ final release was “Something Cool” [led by Dave
Fisher] b/w “Drive in Movie” [led by Marty Ganter], released on the Elmont
label in mid August 1958. Instrumentation on the Elmont release was supplied
by the Melotones who later became the Passengers. All the Academics records
did well in the Connecticut area but failed to chart nationally.
Following the release of the Academics third record, Vinnie
Giardina replaced Dave Fisher, who left to attend Wesleyan University in
Middletown, CT. At Wesleyan, Fisher formed the folk group, the Highwaymen who
recorded “Michael Row the Boat Ashore” and “Cotton Fields.” Dave Fisher
passed away on Mat 7, 2010.
Dave Fisher with the Highwaymen
In August 1963, in the middle of the group oldies revival
period, Eddie Gries and Donn Feleti purchased the masters to the two Academics
Ancho records from Joel Alderman and re-released them on the Relic
label. This created a brand new following for the group.
In 1989, two unreleased Academics’ masters from 1960 (“I Often
Wonder” b/w “Girl That I Love”) were located and issued.
The Academics continued singing over the years, appearing with
many well-known performers including Connie Francis, the Five Satins, the
Platters, and Paul Anka.
The Academics today consist of original members Marty Ganter
(lead and songwriter) and Ron Marone (baritones and arranger) as well as Vinny
Giardina who joined in 1958 and John Roddy a former member of Roger Koob and
the Premiers, another great Connecticut group.