When the Gateway Singers broke up in January 1961, Jerry Walter held on to their innovative arrangements, many of which were his own creation.
The folk music boom was in full flight, and his vision was to recreate that fabulous Gateway sound in a new form. In the summer of that year, playing banjo, he joined forces with Betty “Montana” Man on guitar, and they toured nationally as a duo. Betty Mann had been one of those who were considered for filling Elmerlee Thomas' shoes when she'd left The Gateway Singers the previous year.
The success of the new pairing renewed his wish to offer a revitalized Gateway group to the receptive public, and to complete the trio, he selected bassist Milt Chapman,formerly a member of the jazz ensemble, The Accidentals, to join them a year later.
Initially, they billed themselves `simply' as Jerry Walter, Betty Man and Milt Chapman. When they changed management to Alan Tinkley and Lou Robin in Hollywood, and signed with Capitol Records, the name Gateway Trio was finally adopted.
"The Mad, Mad, Mad Gateway Trio,” their first album, was recorded in front of a live audience in Studio A at the Capitol Tower in Hollywood on January 18, 1963.
"The Mad, Mad, Mad Gateway Trio”
For the next three years, they toured extensively throughout the US and Canada, performing in college and civic concerts, fairs and nightclubs. They were also featured in the MGM film "Hootenanny Hoot."
The Gateway Trio issued a number of singles, including Rod McKuen's “Soldiers Who Want to Be Heroes,” which did well in the Billboard charts. In 1964, their second Capitol album, “The Gateway Trio” was released.
With the popularity of folk music declining by 1965, The Gateway Trio adopted a more contemporary, youthful sound in keeping with the trend towards folk rock. They even put together an album for Capitol featuring the fresh, new approach (never released).
Always a turbulent ensemble, at the end of that year, the group decided to disband. The Gateway Trio's last concert was at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium with Tom Lehrer in November 1965.
Betty Man and Jerry Walter continued to perform together occasionally for the next four years. Milt Chapman moved to Hollywood and worked in television with the Smothers Brothers and Glen Campbell TV shows. Eventually, Betty went solo with her “Betty Montana” country-western act and moved to Hollywood in 1969.
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