The greatest backup group in the history of recorded music undoubtedly was the Jordanaires, a gospel group of mostly Tennessee boys, formed in the 1940s, that set the standard for studio vocal groups in the '50s, '60s, '70s, and beyond. In their sixty-five-year career, from 1948 through 2013, the recordings they sang on have sold an estimated eight billion copies.
They sang on more than 200 of Elvis's recordings, including most of his biggest hits. They were in three of his best-known movies, appeared with him on most of his early nation-wide TV shows, and toured with him for many years. Throughout Elvis's early career, they were his most trusted friends and probably his most positive influence. "No telling how many thousands of miles we rode together over those fourteen years," remembered Gordon Stoker, the group's manager and high tenor, "and most of those miles were good miles, with lots of laughs, and lots of talk about life."
While the Jordanaires' bread and butter may have been Nashville's burgeoning recording industry, it seemed that there was always a plane waiting to take them cross country to the pop sessions in L.A. They sang on most of Ricky Nelson's biggest hits and over the years backed up Andy Williams, Fats Domino, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Dinah Shore, The Everly Brothers, Glen Campbell, Patti Page, Neil Young, Perry Como, Loretta Lynn, Ringo Starr, Tom Jones, Andy Griffith, Bobby Vinton, Brenda Lee, Patsy Cline, Billy Ray Cyrus, Clyde McPhatter, and about 2,100 other recording acts.
Michael Kosser came to Nashville to write songs in 1971 and enjoyed a songwriting career that included recordings by country stars like George Jones, Charlie Rich, Conway Twitty, Tammy Wynette, Ray Price, Kitty Wells, Barbara Mandrell, Marty Robbins, The Kendalls, Blake Shelton, and Josh Gracin. He has written twenty published books and was a senior editor at American Songwriter Magazine, where he wrote a column, “Street Smarts,” for more than twenty years. Kosser has also written extensively for Variety, the Nashville news media, and various other music publications. He and his wife, Gina, live in Nashville, Tennessee.
Alan Stoker is the son of Gordon Stoker, of the Jordanaires quartet. He’s a Grammy-winning audio engineer, a musician/vocalist, and a music historian. As a musician/vocalist, he’s backed up beach music legend Clifford Curry and Sam Moore of the Stax Records duo Sam and Dave. He’s also recorded with prog-rock group McKendree Spring and E Street Band bassist Gary Tallent. He’s opened shows for Ray Charles and his orchestra, Mary Wilson of the Supremes, Rick Nelson and the Stone Canyon band, the Tams, Crystal Gayle, and others.
He’s the long-time legendary archivist for the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, TN. He’s preserved some of the earliest recordings of the biggest names in music. Hank Williams, Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Johnny Cash are just a few of the artists whose recordings Stoker has been involved with. His work is credited on close to one hundred commercially released products, including Hank Williams Mother’s Best Flour Show, The Patsy Cline Collection, The Bristol Sessions: Historic Recordings from Bristol, Tennessee, and the Grammy award–winning Night Train to Nashville: Music City Rhythm & Blues 1945–1970.
Stoker has appeared in numerous documentaries as a music historian. He’s a twenty-year member of the National Recording Preservation Board at the Library of Congress.