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OBITUARIES : Passings

Eldest member of Ames Brothers group

January 16, 2008|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Joe Ames, 86, the deep-voiced anchor and eldest member of the 1950s hit singing group the Ames Brothers, died Dec. 22 at a hospital near Mainz, Germany, after suffering a heart attack, his daughter Jo-Ellen Ames told the Associated Press.

Ames and his brothers Ed, Gene and Vic were one of the most popular quartets in the decades before the advent of rock 'n' roll.

For nearly three decades, the brothers built a career that included eight gold records and regular appearances on television, nightclubs and in Las Vegas.

They sang in a variety of styles and had million-selling international hits such as "The Naughty Lady of Shady Lane." At their peak, they could command a then-impressive $20,000 a week on tour.

A native of Malden, Mass, Ames was born Joseph Urick on May 3, 1921. The four boys began singing in local events as the Urick Brothers and won several amateur contests. Along the way they changed their name to the Ames Brothers.

Joe Ames' first love was opera and he moved to Germany in 1965 where he intended to try for an operatic career but became involved in producing and managing other talents, his daughter said.

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