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Swingin’ Medallions founding member dies
Swingin' Medallions
The Swingin' Medallions are set to perform Aug. 18 in Gainesville with The Arts Council. A founding member, John McElrath, died on June 9, the group shared on its Facebook page. Photo courtesy The Arts Council.

Tribune News Service | The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Swingin’ Medallions announced on the group's Facebook page Sunday evening that a founding member had died.

"We are extremely saddened that we lost the founding member of the Swingin’ Medallions, John McElrath, (June 10) after a battle with Parkinson's disease," the Facebook post said.
Although McElrath was no longer performing with the band, the 77-year-old's two sons had joined the group over the years.

The group has performed five or six times in Gainesville in the past 10 years, according to Gladys Wyant, executive director of The Arts Council.

“He was always such a great guy and loved to be with the guys even though he couldn’t perform with them very much,” Wyant said. “He might do a couple of songs with them.” 

The Swingin' Medallions' "Double Shot of My Baby's Love," released in 1966, climbed briefly into Top 10 on the Billboard charts, and it remains popular today.

A memorable part about the record is the background "party noise" that duplicated the sound of fraternity parties the band would play on weekends while its members were still in college.

"We'd tried to record it (for a company) in Atlanta and nothing worked," said McElrath in a 1992 interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "So we went to Charlotte, pitched in our own money and recorded the song our way, grabbing people off the street, just anyone we could get to come in and make noise."

The Medallions made 2,000 copies and sold them at parties. A copy found its way into the hands of a disc jockey in Birmingham, Alabama. When a national label picked it up, the band was on the brink of making it big. Some radio stations wouldn't play the record because of the phrase "worst hangover that I ever had" so another version was made.

The group is set to perform Aug. 18 at The Arts Council’s Smithgall Arts Center in Gainesville.

Harley Funeral Home and Crematory in Greenwood, South Carolina, is in charge of funeral arrangements.

Times reporter Amber Tyner contributed to this report

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