976-SING - Version 4

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1990 started off with the announcement by Rex Rotsko that he was going to focus on other areas of his career.Ron Hoffman and Wayne Winstead agreed that they all would each do other things separate from the group, and would continue by booking only high-paying gigs.In July, the group went back to Las Vegas for a week for their first appearance at the Riviera Improv. It was a successful run and the club let it be known that they would have 976-SING back again.


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After their return to Los Angeles, Rex let it be known that he was leaving the group for good.Shortly after, however, the trio was offered a television spot onInto the Night with Rick Dees, a late-night answer toThe Tonight Showand Letterman. Rex agreed to do the appearance. They were requested by the Executive Producer, Jay Wolpert, to perform their song about street violence in Los Angeles, On the Streets of L.A. - a parody of the Lerner and Lowe classic, On the Street Where You Live -for an opening bit in the show. Since the show appeared to originate from New York, even though it was shot in Los Angeles, Wolpert asked the group to change L.A. to New York. 976-SING's appearance on the show was very well received (see clip here). A few weeks later, the group was invited back to the show for a second appearance and they did their popular sendup of The Sinking of the Titanic.


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A few days before their second appearance on Into the Night, Ron and Wayne met for lunch and agreed that it was silly not to continue the group when there were still so many offers coming in.Two days after their second performance onInto the Night, auditions for a new lead for 976-SING were held at Theatre Theater in Hollywood. The auditions consisted of each applicant singing - a cappela - one song of their choice and performing one monologue. After seventeen men and women auditioned, Ron and Wayne invited six for callbacks a week later. During the callbacks, each of the four women and two men sang with the group to see how the blend worked. The final result was obvious to Ron and Wayne, and On September 9, 1990, William "Rusty" Jones was invited to join 976-SING as the new lead. From the roster of performers that sang with 976-SING, it became a running joke that one of the current perfomers had to have a dog's name. Rusty replaced Rex. And, of course, there was Sparky's one-time performance in 1989.

The rest of 1990, and the two years that followed, were the busiest times for 976-SING.They began to tour nationally and gathered a college following.They released two cassettes of their favorite numbers. On their first trip to Laughlin, Nevada in late 1990, they appeared at Sandy Hackett's Comedy Club and established a strong relationship with Sandy. He continued to book them at his clubs in Flagstaff and Las Vegas, as well as Laughlin, throughout their run. One of the highlights of that relationship was when Sandy's father, the late legendary actor/comedian Buddy Hackett joined them for a set at the club in the Stardust Hotel in Las Vegas.

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In 1991, their tour expanded to include trips to New York and New Jersey, playing several universites and comedy clubs, including Wise Guys in Syracuse and the Comedy Stop at the Tropicana Hotel in Atlantic City. In 1992, they expanded into northern California and on up into Portland and Seattle.


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Though not for trying, 976-SING's television appearances were lacking. However, the trio did a short bit forAmerica’s Funniest People at Igby's in West Los Angeles. Though Wayne initially argued that their appearance on the show would somehow give the group a more "amateur" status after their other appearances on Into the Nightand The Late Show, Ron and Rusty overruled. The group made more money as a result of that one appearance than any other booking. Their performance of Zipper Tequila was so well received, they were flown to Orlando for a taping of the show where they took second place, and continued to receive residual checks for a couple of years. And, it eventually led to the group reuniting in another configuration in 1994 to appear on a television show in Japan.


Despite the increased bookings and the trio’s continuing success, yet another member began to show the strain.At the start of 1993, a decision would be made that would change the look of the group one more time.

976-SING 2012