The Lettermen's close-harmony pop songs with light and easy arrangements made them quite a successful group with adult audiences during the 1960s, when changing styles and tastes made many older listeners feel just a bit left behind in the music world.
Formed in 1960 by singer Tony Butala, along with two students from Brigham Young University, Jim Pike and Bob Engemann, the Lettermen recorded without success for about a year until they signed to Capitol Records. The group's first single for Capitol, "The Way You Look Tonight," did very well on the pop charts, and its follow-up, "When I Fall in Love," reached the Top Ten in late 1961. Though the group only reached that plateau one more time, with the 1968 medley "Goin' Out of My Head/Can't Take My Eyes Off You" (the same year Jim's brother Gary Pike stepped in for Engemann), successful album sales to adult listeners and popular concert tours kept the group going long after many of their similar contemporaries had died off. Another Pike brother, Donny, replaced Jim in 1974, and the Lettermen formed their own Alfa Omega Records in 1979, sporadically releasing albums of new material even into the 1990s. Jim Pike and Bob Engemann later formed Reunion (with Gary Pike and Ric de Azevedo), a group that released several albums for Collectables. Butala toured the Lettermen well into the 21st century, proving popular with older audiences. He also founded a Vocal Group Hall of Fame outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. ~ John Bush, Rovi