Grandma's Boys is the Barbershop quartet that won the 1979 SPEBSQSA international competition.
In the summer of 1968, a quartet of New Trier High School students from the North Shore of Chicago, IL rode a Greyhound bus to Cincinnati, checked into the "Y," sat in the back row at the international contest and listened in awe as quartets like the Western Continentals, Mark IV, and Golden Staters won the top medals. They had recently named the quartet, and 11 years later, when three of the original four ran onstage in Minneapolis to claim their own gold medals, it still bore the name Grandma's Boys. Jay Giallombardo (bari), Hank Brandt (lead), John Miller (bass), and Jeff Calhoun (tenor) were singing in three different high school quartets when they first got together on Memorial Day in 1968. Their determination to stick together was rigorously tested over the next few years. John and Jay went off to college (at Bradley in Peoria and the University of Kansas, respectively); a year later Hank and Jeff enrolled at Dartmouth in New Hampshire, spreading the quartet over 1,500 miles. The next year, Jay transferred to Boston University, and John moved to Syracuse University, which brought them somewhat closer together, allowing them more opportunity to rehearse and perform at Barbershop chapter shows (usually at the same time, Hank later admitted). Upon graduation, the Boys all settled back home in the Chicago area, until Jeff moved to Denver. Jim Sikorski was recruited from Milwaukee, and the quartet jumped from 10th place in international competition in 1974 to 3rd place in '75. But Jim had to drop out (he had to go to college, too!), and the Boys' coach, Mac Huff (then a Society music man) recommended Don Barnick of Cleveland. After only a few weeks of rehearsals with a new tenor, Grandma's Boys placed sixth in the next year's contest. The combination proved the right one, however; in 1978 the quartet won the silver medals, and at the Minneapolis convention in 1979 they walked offstage with the Landino Trophy and the gold medals of International Champions. John stayed with the group exactly one more year, before moving to Los Angeles and a career in TV that now has him presiding over the NBC Sports Network. So Randy Loos moved from Atlanta and sang bass with the group for their remaining six years. John went on to win another championship with The New Tradition quartet; Don sang bass with Keepsake; Jay became the founding director of the New Tradition chorus in Northbrook, Illinois; and Hank carried a briefcase for the Association of International Champions for a while.