Group Members (Incomplete)
Imperial Sugar Quartet (circa 1945-1956)
Marion Snider, former pianist for the Original Stamps Quartet and Rangers Quartet, organized and served as pianist, manager, and emcee for the Imperial Quartet from the mid-1940s until the early 1950s. Snider's group quickly attracted the ears of a radio sponsor, the Imperial Sugar Company. The new quartet became the Imperial Sugar Quartet and began a long association with the Texas Quality Radio Network. The Imperial Sugar Quartet was popular for a decade as they performed both on the airwaves and concert stage throughout Texas and surrounding areas.
The Imperial Quartet's singers and pianists were among gospel musicís finest of the period. Charles Speed was the quartetís only tenor. Homer Tankersly, Jr. was their long-serving lead singer. Bass Floyd Gray served both before and after former Lone Star and Blue Ridge Quartet bass Shaw Eiland. In addition to Snider, former Rangers Quartet pianists David Reece and Cecil Pollock were also members of the Imperial Quartet.
Snider left the group in 1952. By 1955 the Imperial Quartet began transitioning away from gospel music and into popular music as the Commodores. In 1956 they became the Commodores, and thus ended the Imperial Quartet.
Other Imperial Quartets
There were several other Imperial quartets before and after Snider's group.
In the 1890s, there was a black Imperial Quartet.
Later there was a vaudeville group called the Imperial Quartet.
In 1911, there was a newspaper account of an Imperial Quartet which was said to be one of the oldest and best in Chicago. They recorded over forty songs, both popular and religious, on Victor Recordings in 1915-1916. The quartet consisted of Wallace Moody, C. Robert Wood, Ben O. Tufts, and Oliver Johnson.
In the mid-1930s there was still an Imperial Quartet in Chicago which was described as a group of voices trained for classical singing.
In 1964, Jake Hess requested permission from Marion Snider to use the Imperials name. After receiving Sniderís blessing, Jake Hess and the Imperials was born. The group formed by Hess operated continuously until 2010 with numerous personnel changes.
Before the official group formed by Hess disbanded in 2010, there were two other groups using some variation of the Imperials name. The Classic Imperials were headed by long-time Imperials group manager Armond Morales while another group included Terry Blackwood, Sherman Andrus, and Joe Moscheo. Jim Murray sang with the Classic Imperials initially and then later sang with the Blackwood/Andrus/Moscheo group.
There is also a secular group called Little Anthony and the Imperials.