Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Ward Gospel Singers at Disneyland

Today's post features two images of the Ward Gospel Singers on the stage of the Mickey Mouse Club Theater in Fantasyland at Disneyland, circa 1964. Note the Mickey Mouse head on the curtain; up until 1963 it was the headquarters of the Mouseketeers.

A closeup of the singers; note that there are TWO piano players!

From the El Sereno Star newspaper, dated August 27, 1964:

"Disneyland Approaches Summer End"

In addition to Harry James and his band, Disneyland After Dark offers the Elliott Brothers' Orchestra, the Spacemen and Kay Bell, the Firehouse Five Plus Two, the Ward Gospel Singers, the Young Men from New Orleans aboard the Mark Twain steamboat and the Royal Tahitian dancers.

I am "assuming" (oh how dangerous) that these two shots are from that time period.

If you'd like to hear what the Ward Gospel Singers sound like, here's "Something's Got A Hold Of Me" from the Buena Vista LP: The Famous Ward Gospel Singers Recorded Live at Disneyland. It was recorded at the Golden Horseshoe on April 18, 1963 and featured Viola Crowley, Geraldine Jones (lead vocals), Clara Thomas, Vermettya Royster, Mildred Means, and Malvilyn (Simpson) Statham. Enjoy!

More Disneyland photos at my main website.

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K. Martinez said...

What incredible and unusual images from Disneyland. Where on earth did you come across these? I love them. Thanks, Dave!

Matthew said...

That is wonderful stuff! I thought they may have been at the Mickey Mouse Theater in Fantasyland... I wonder if the curtain with Mickey went there after our 16th President moved in?

Always your pal,
Amazon Belle

Irene said...

Oh wow! I remember my brother, who is older than me, going to hear them. He loved their sound.

Anonymous said...

Cool photos… but they were taken inside the Fantasyland Theatre. Honest!

Dave DeCaro said...

Matt - you could be right. I had not considered that option.

Anonymous - supply some evidence and I'll be happy to change the post.

Matt Gerhard said...

I'm pretty sure the instrumentalist on the left is playing an organ (probably a Hammond) not a piano. It's pretty rare to have gospel music without a Hammond organ attached to a Leslie speaker.

Matt Gerhard said...

I should have looked more closely before my previous comment! In the third picture you can see a portion of the Leslie speaker just in front of the curtain on the far left. There's not really enough of the organ visible for me to positively identify it, but since it's all enclosed, I'm guessing it's a C3 or A100.

Dreemfinder said...

Dave -- There was no stage in the Opera House until one was custom built for Abe. The Opera House was closed to the public and used as the Mill, for construction of Disneyland (my Dad did the air conditioning) until the sets for Babes in Toyland moved in.

The Mouse Head curtain was installed in front of the movie screen (pictured) in the Fantasyland Theater as soon as they no longer needed it at the studio for the filming of the MMC.

Ron Schneider

Dave DeCaro said...

Ron - That's proof I can live with! Thanks for all the extra info!