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1966 publicity photo. L-R Mike Piano, Richard Shoff, Jim Brady
Although the Grads did not enter the charts with their early recordings, they performed well enough to secure a residency at Harrah's Lake Club (now Harveys Lake Tahoe) where a friend brought them to the attention of Herb Alpert of A&M Records. Alpert was impressed with the Grads, but after one single without success the group agreed to a name change, choosing the Sandpipers out of a dictionary. After the name change, their producer, Tommy LiPuma, recommended they record the Cubananthem "Guantanamera" and they had their first hit. The use of a female singer (Robie Lester, uncredited) to add background vocals on "Guantanamera" established a trend that the Sandpipers would incorporate in multiple future studio recordings and live shows.
Along with the name change came a fourth member: although consigned to the shadows behind the original trio for live performances, Pamela Ramcier had now become an integral part of the group. Her lyriclessvocals were used much like second strings, adding an ethereal quality to the Sandpipers' sound.
For the Sandpipers' first live show in San Diego, their management hired two females, the well-known folk singer Penny Nichols and Pat Woolley. Early pressings of the Guantanamera LP showed a five person group--two females with Piano, Shoff, and Brady--on the back cover while later pressings had just the male trio. Subsequent albums depicted only the original trio and other backup singers followed including Diane Jordan and Kathy Westmoreland in 1969. Some pressings of the 1970 Come Saturday Morning LP credit "solo voices" Patrice Holloway, Carolyn Willis, and Susan Tallman.
In 1968 they participated at the Festival di Sanremo in Italy, a highlight on the Italian music calendar. They were, as then usual, alongside Anna Identici one of the two performers of the song "Quando M'Innamoro," which attained sixth place. The song would become more popular in the interpretation by Gigliola Cinquetti. The English version by British pop singer Engelbert Humperdinck, "A Man Without Love", became a global hit.
Singing in English, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, and Tagalog, the Sandpipers had seven separate album entries in the Billboard 200 from 1966-1970, and over a dozen charted singles. In the mid-1970s, Ralph Nichols (later with The Lettermen) replaced Mike Piano. Gary Duckworth joined Brady and Shoff for the final album, Overdue, in 1977. The final 1979 single, "Singapore Girl", featured only Shoff and Brady.
Original member Michael Piano died on December 29, 2014 in Kauai, Hawaii.
There was a South African folk rock group active in the 1960s also named the Sandpipers.
Another group known as the Sandpipers (or sometimes the Golden Sandpipers) sang for Golden Records, most notably the theme to Mighty Mouse, the version that is now the best known and perhaps the original (although some sources cite the Terrytooners with Mitch Miller and orchestra).
A New York group released one single as the Sandpipers in 1966 on the Kismet label.
A Detroit group released one single as the Sandpipers in 1966 on the Giant label.
The Nashville-based Cypress label released a single by the Sand Pipers in 1966.
A South Florida trio (Art Williams, Wally Pape, Billy Stuart) released one LP, The Singin', Swingin' Sandpipers, in 1965 on the Art label.
A Malaysian group released three EPs as the Sandpipers in the 1960s: Hey Tak Malu on the Maria label, and Nyatakan Lah Pada Ku and Deritaan Insan (with Siti Khatijah Hamid) on the Playboy label.
^Released in Mexico as Lo Maravilloso De Ti with song titles translated into Spanish (and in many cases differently from the translations for the same songs for the Spanish Album).
^All songs in Tagalog language. LP cover has text "The First Tagalog Album From An International Group".
^Also released in Philippines with same catalog number. Released in Japan as Singapore Girl (Satril YX-7145-SR) with different track order. Released in Spain on cassette in 1978 (Satril STC-5001) and again in 1984 (Satril 50.271). Not released in U.S.
^U.S. jukebox EP tracks: "Cuando Salí de Cuba", "And I Love Her", "Fly Me to the Moon", "Strange Song", "Misty Roses", "Daydream".
^Double LP with 24 tracks from previous albums. Group poster included.
^Double LP with 20 tracks from all seven previous studio albums.
^Double LP with 30 tracks including all 24 songs from Spanish Album and Second Spanish Album plus "Strasera Gli Angeli Non Volvano (For The Last Time)", "Chotto Matte Kudasai (Never Say Goodbye)", "Kumbaya", and "Santo Domingo".
^Released in Australia as The 16 Greats (A&M/Summit SRA250-012) with different cover.
^Released in UK in 1970 as Tribute To Burt Bacharach (A&M AMLB 1018) with different cover.
^Sandpipers song appears twice as the first and last track on the LP. Multiple CD reissues.
^International releases included Australia (Festival FK-1426), Belgium (London 5.571), Brazil (Fermata 33177), Canada (A&M 082X), Congo (London 55.71), France (Columbia SCRF 964), Germany (London DL 20 953, A&M 210 005, & A&M 14 661 AT), India (A&M 806), Iran (Merica 2027), Ireland (Pye International 7N.25380), Italy (Derby DB 5167, B-side "Angelica"), Kenya (Pye 7N.25380), Netherlands (London DL 20953), New Zealand (Festival FK-1426), Nigeria (Pye International 7N.25380), Rhodesia (A&M AM-504), South Africa (A&M AM-504), Spain (A&M/Hispavox H-125, B-side "Louie Louie"), UK (Pye International 7N.25380), Yugoslavia (A&M S-53510).
^Label credits "Marti-Angulo-Seeger" based on earlier versions and arrangements.
^International releases: Australia (A&M AMK-1548), Canada (A&M 819X), France (London 5.587), Germany (London DL 20 957), Japan (London TOP.1104), Mexico (Tizoc 259 X 45, B-side "Enamorado"), Netherlands (London FLX 3174), Spain (A&M/Hispavox, A-side "Guantanamera"), UK (Pye International 7N.25396). The October 8, 1966 issue of Billboard magazine reviewed the single in the "Pop Spotlights - Top 60" section saying, "The Kingsmen's former hit is cleverly revived much in the smooth ballad fashion of the Sandpipers' original "Guantanamera." Another winner."
^Label also has "Spanish lyric by C. Ortega & N. De Caro" in addition to "R. Barry" (sic) songwriter credit.
^Label credits "H. J. Dutschendorf (sic), Jr.". John Denver's birth name was Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr.
^Duckworth, along with George Green and Jim Brady's brother Mike, formed Griffin and released an eponymous LP and several singles in 1972 on the L.A.-based Romar label. He also released one single in 1976 on the Nashville-based D.P.A. label ("Move Out Of The City"/"Stop, Look And Listen").