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Washington Neighborhoods
Four Coins turn up after 33 years for two final shows

Sunday, April 13, 2003

By Joe Smydo, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

It's getting a little difficult to hold the notes.

Their boyish good looks have faded.

And they won't get on their knees to sing love songs, because it might be difficult to get up again.

Otherwise, the Four Coins hope to be in top 1950s form for reunion concerts May 9 and 10, their first performances in 33 years and their last bow.

The Canonsburg natives will bring "Shangri-La" to the Pepsi-Cola Roadhouse in Hanover. They'll also perform hits such as "The World Outside," "Memories of You" and their breakout "We'll Be Married."

When tickets for the May 10 show sold out, the May 9 show was added. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. each day, and the shows -- including a 15-piece orchestra -- begin at 8.

Fan pressure lured Jimmy Gregorakis, George Mantalis and brothers George and Jack Mahramas, all in their 60s, into doing the encores.

"Your friends keep asking you to do shows. Your kids have never seen you. Your grandchildren have never seen you, so we decided to do it," Gregorakis said.

Two generations ago, Canonsburg orchestra leader Lee Barrett helped the four to fame by taking them to Cincinnati for a contract-winning audition with General Artist Corp.

The group's records began bounding to the top of the charts, and the four appeared on television shows hosted by fellow Canonsburg native Perry Como, Steve Allen, Dick Clark, Mike Douglas, Patti Page and Ed Sullivan. The four performed in New York with Tony Bennett, had a photograph taken with Elvis Presley and toured the Far East with Nat King Cole.

But in 1970, they decided to leave show business for their growing families.

Preparation for the reunion concerts has been a logistical challenge -- Mantalis lives in Florida and George Mahramas in Arizona. But Gregorakis said the harmony came flooding back.

In their sensible haircuts and tuxedos, the Four Coins of the 1950s looked much different from the teen stars of today who produce what Gregorakis called "mostly noise."

If the stars have changed, so has the recording industry. Gregorakis doesn't own a CD player.

The reunion concerts will feature the group's biggest hits, patriotic songs and, in a tribute to Canonsburg's ethnic heritage, some Italian and Greek numbers. The four plan to have a good time.

"We always did," Gregorakis said.

Joe Smydo can be reached by at jsmydo@post-gazette.com or 724-746-8812.

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