“The Flying Eagles Gospel Singers were,” as the back cover of their Another Day’s Journey LP attests, “organized July 24th, 1965, under the leadership of Rev. James Sanders.” But it’s not quite that simple. The group, initially known as Five Eagle Singers, soon lost Sanders, their leader, when he moved—not to Chicago but to Cleveland. Enter Macon, Georgia, born-and-raised Robert Hogan Sr., a veteran of a local chapter of the Bibletones singing group—only one among many so named, and not the famous one. But Hogan quickly tired of the group’s poor discipline, and disdained their recurrent failure to show up for Sunday services, after spending Saturday nights at the club. Meanwhile, Hogan’s three sons had formed their own group, calling themselves the Little Eagles. Twelve-year-old Robert Jr., eight-year-old Glenn, and six-year-old Lonnie took up guitar, bass, and drums, respectively, and posted up their precocious talent for singing the spirituals they heard around the house.
When Robert Sr. and his wife Elnora joined their boys, the name Little Eagles no longer applied, and the Five Eagle Singers got a temporary reprieve. But after performances at Church of God in Christ on Michigan City’s Union Street, the assembled referred to them instead as “the Flying Eagles.” With pastor’s encouragements, the name stuck. Following Robert Sr.’s steady hand, the youthful group hit the recording studio before Lonnie had even graduated grammar school. A pair of Chicago concerns handled the first two Flying Eagles offerings: the “My Shoes” single for Gene Cash’s Jade label, and I Know A Man, their first LP, on Offe Reese’s One Way, appeared within a few short years of the founding of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Subsequent local popularity attracted a few new members to the Eagles’ nest, including step-cousins Ray and Earl Johnson. Midway through the 1970s, the Another Day’s Journey LP was issued inside a sandy-beach custom cover by Champ, Jim Stanton’s Nashville-based custom enterprise.
Family members held the Flying Eagles core, but other actors came and went. The older and more independent Hogan boys performed, still as a gospel act, as the Hogan Brothers. Although they frequently shared bills with the Flying Eagles, Hogan Brothers rehearsals were held separately, used to hone repertoire unrelated to that of the family act. When Robert and Glenn, left the area—to Texas and New York, for work and the military, respectively—Robert Sr. added Brother Elmo Nunn and Missionary Charline Nunn, and soldiered on. The final Flying Eagles Gospel Singers effort of the LP era—laboriously titled It’s a Long Way to Heaven, None Can Go Up There But the Pure in Heart and saddled with a stultifying viola, sheet music, and roses still life for cover adornment—featured the Nunn line-up. Henceforth, quiet years would interrupt continued activity, until Robert Sr.’s passing in 2004.