09 April 2016

H is for Hess, Jake


Jake Hess was born on Christmas Eve 1927 in Pisgah, Alabama. His singing career started when he was 16 years old. In 1948, he joined The Statesmen Quartet as lead singer. He was the lead singer off and on for 20 years, the longest of any of their lead singers. Jack Toney was the second longest at approximately 12 years total with the group.

Jake was part of the perfect quartet made up of Denver Crumpler (tenor), Jake Hess (lead), Doy Ott (baritone), and Jim "Big Chief" Wetherington (bass). Hovie Lister was the founder of the group as well as the wild piano man.

Jake went off on his own for awhile forming the group called The Imperials. They also sang with Elvis. It is said that Jake was Elvis' favorite singer. It is also said that Elvis patterned leg shaking after Big Chief, but his singing style after Jake Hess.

This video, in my opinion, is one of the best at showcasing Jake's strong voice.

This Old House

The following video is from Jake's final project. It was released on 19 August 2003. Jake died 4 January 2004 in Opelika, Alabama. He is buried in Juniper, Georgia in the Buck Family Cemetery.

Gotta Get a God Said

Find a Grave
Wikipedia - The Statesmen
Wikipedia - Jake Hess


  1. I used to watch Jake Hess on TV singing with The Statesman Quartet and the Imperials. Great groups. I have a few albums my the Imperials but I don't know that Hess is on them and they have kind of a rock sound. The New Imperials were a fine group as well.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

    1. It is cool that you used to watch them on TV. We were introduced to The Statesmen when David went on a YouTube search for the song My Name is Lazarus. He came across them singing The Fourth Man and we've been hooked on them ever since. The Statesmen also featured in our love story, but we didn't know it at the time. That post will be coming up later, probably for the letter "T".

      I've never heard of The New Imperials. I will have to look them up.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Have a blessed day!

    2. The "New" Imperials were essentially the Imperials with a more modern sound. They lost old fans, but gained new ones in the process. Old or new they are both good to my ears.

      Arlee Bird
      A to Z Challenge Co-host
      Tossing It Out

    3. I think that is often the case when something changes. People don't like the changes and go elsewhere and new ones come on board that do appreciate the changes.

      I'm one that isn't always so good with change, especially permanent changes such as deaths of the group members. After Denver died, The Statesmen recovered just fine. It wasn't the same, no one else sang like Denver, but Rosie did a fine job, too. But after Chief died, well, that was just the end of it. Doy was the only one left of the long-timers and he left soon after Chief died (about 5 years). The feel of it was gone after that.

      The only video that we've seen of the Imperials with Jake Hess from the early years, they all looked so very sad. Even Jake wasn't his usually smiley self. That was a bit weird to see after seeing that big smile in the Statesmen videos.

      Thanks for stopping by and have a blessed evening!


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