Formed in the late 1890s for cylinder recordings by the forerunner of Columbia Records, this vocal group was first known as the Columbia Quartet (sometimes varied as Columbia Quartette and Columbia Male Quartet). The early line-up featured first tenor Albert Campbell, second tenor James Kent Reynard, baritone Joe Belmont and bass Joe Majors. The personnel varied over the next few years, with George J. Gaskin briefly replacing Reynard before giving way to Henry Burr, and Tom Daniels replacing Majors until replaced by Frank C. Stanley. Arthur Collins and Bob Roberts also made appearances in the Columbia/Peerless groups. By the mid-1900s the group had settled as first tenor Campbell, second tenor Burr, baritone Steve Porter and bass Stanley. They made several popular records for the company and were eventually offered work with other labels, notable Edison and Victor Records. Just as individual artists were usually freelance in those days so too was the quartet but for these other recording sessions they adopted the name Peerless. In time, Columbia too used the name Peerless although the same company also named them the Climax Quartette when recording for a subsidiary label of that name. Confusingly, the Climax Quartette name was also used by the Haydn Quartet, which had different members (John H. Bieling, Harry Macdonough, S.H. Dudley and William F. Hooley) when recording for Victor, while this same group recorded for Edison as the Edison Male Quartet.
In addition to their own records as a quartet, the group sometimes recorded as accompanists to singers such as George H. O’Connor (‘Down Where The Sweet Potatoes Grow’), and Irving Kaufman (‘Hail! Hail! The Gang’s All Here’). Among the songs recorded by Columbia/Peerless are ‘That Raggedy Rag’, ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’ and ‘My Creole Sue’.~ Rovi