The Treniers are a rowdy, rocking stage act that combines acrobatic dancing, burlesque comedy, and stunts, all timed to music. All told, there were 10 Trenier children, most of whom play or played with the act at one time or another, but the major players were the identical twins Claude and Cliff (b. Mobile, July 14, 1919; Cliff d. 1983), Buddy, and 10th-born Milt. The older brother Buddy was first to play professionally, in Mobile, but the act began officially when Claude, working in NYC in 1944, convinced his boss, jazz-band leader Jimmie Lunceford, to hire Cliff as well.
With Lunceford, the twins learned the business, both stage and record. They left his wing in 1945, and Claude split for the coast, where he spent the year 1946 playing various venues, including one with Joe Liggins and his Honeydrippers. His success inspired Cliff to meet him there in LA. Cliff was followed by Milt a bit later. Don Hill and Gene Gilbeaux were with them by 1948, when the act was starting to develop its unique sound. They went on the road, and when in Chicago in 1949, The Blue Note Cafe there billed them as "The Rockin', Rollin' Treniers."
Most of their early work was blues and humorous ballads, but they were quick to jump on the "rockin'" bandwagon in the late 40's. They recorded for many labels, but because their act was mostly visual, they really shined in movies and on television. "Everybody Get Together" was originally done in 1949 by Teddy Brannon, but the Treniers made it rock. In the 50's, brothers Buddy, Denny, and Denny's son Skip, joined the act. Today, Don Hill is still with the band, and the Treniers act seems so be interminable, with new generations of Treniers being added all the time to join the remaining originals, some of whom seem to be immortal. Seven of the 10 Trenier siblings are still alive as of 1999.
In 1953, America's television audience was first introduced to rock and roll when the Treniers appeared on the Colgate Comedy Hour with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. The first song they did was "Rockin' Is Our Bizness," replete with humorous stage antics by the Treniers and Lewis, and after this they let Jerry Lewis sit in on drums, resulting in a rocking ad lib that is hysterical to watch.
In 1982, Claude told writer Nick Tosches, "I remember we were playing the Riptide in Wildwood, NJ, in the summer of 1950. Bill Haley had a cowboy band, the Saddlemen, that played right across the street from us. He used to come in and watch us. He asked us what we called the music we were playing. And we told him. Hell, we told him." (Haley, 4 years later, cut "Rock Around The Clock").
The Treniers have been performing for over 50 years, and a schedule of their shows, as well as a biography written by nephew Slick Trenier, with photos, can be found at Slick's website: