Archie Bell & the Drells

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Archie Bell & the Drells
Archie Bell and the Drells 1968.jpg
The group in 1968.
Background information
Origin Houston, Texas, United States
Genres Funk, R&B, soul
Years active 1966–1980
Labels Atlantic
Philadelphia International
Members Archie Bell
Lee Bell
Joe Cross
Willie Parnell
James Wise
Lucious Larkins
Billy Butler
[1]

Archie Bell & the Drells was an American R&B vocal group from Houston, Texas, and one of the main acts on Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff's Philadelphia International Records. The band's hits include "Tighten Up", "I Can't Stop Dancing" (both 1968), "There's Gonna Be A Showdown", "Girl You're Too Young" (1969), "Here I Go Again" (also a UK hit in 1972[2]), "Soul City Walk" (1976), "Let's Groove", "Everybody Have A Good Time" (1977), and "Don't Let Love Get You Down" (1976).[3]

History[edit]

Early days[edit]

Archie Bell, who formed the group, is the older brother of world karate champion (and lead vocalist of Motown's Dazz Band), Jerry Bell, NFL player Ricky Bell (1955–1984), and Eugene Bell Sr. Bell moved to Houston as a young boy, and formed the group in 1966 with his friends James Wise, Willie Parnell and Billy Butler. They signed with the Houston-based record label, Ovide, in 1967 and recorded a number of songs, including "She's My Woman" and "Tighten Up", which was recorded in October 1967 at the first of several sessions in which the Drells were backed by the instrumental group the T.S.U. Toronadoes.[4][5][6]

The origins of "Tighten Up" came from a conversation Bell had with Butler. Bell was despondent after receiving his draft notice, and Butler, in an attempt to cheer him up, demonstrated the "Tighten Up" dance to Bell. Bell asked Butler what it was, and Butler told him the name. Bell then put together the famous track, which hit the charts following his induction into the Army.[citation needed]

Bell's promoter, Skipper Lee Frazier, unsuccessfully began pushing the flip side of "Tighten Up", but at the recommendation of a friend gave the other side a try. "Tighten Up" was written by Archie Bell and Billy Butler,[7] contained Archie Bell prodding listeners to dance to the funky musical jam developed by the T.S.U. Toronadoes,[8] and it became a hit in Houston before it was picked up by Atlantic Records for distribution in April 1968. By the summer it topped both the Billboard R&B and pop charts. It also received a R.I.A.A. gold disc by selling 1 million copies.[7] The introduction features Bell introducing himself and the Drells as being from Houston, Texas, and exclaims "We don't only sing, but we dance just as good as we walk". According to the Billboard Book of Number One Hits by Fred Bronson, Bell heard a comment after the Kennedy assassination in Dallas that "nothing good ever came out of Texas." Bell wanted his listeners to know "we were from Texas and we were good."

Bell was wounded in action in Vietnam while the band was still at the height of its fame. The success of the single prompted the band to rush out an album, despite their incapacitated leader. In 1969 the group recorded their first full album with Gamble and Huff, I Can't Stop Dancing, which reached number 28 on the R&B album chart. By this time another of Archie's brothers, Lee Bell (born January 14, 1946, Houston), had replaced Butler, and became the band's choreographer.

Reid Farrell, who was from Houston, Texas, was the guitarist who traveled and played with the group.

Later career[edit]

The band backing Archie Bell & The Drells from 1975-1979 was called "The Melting Pot Band", which featured musicians from several states. McNasty McKnight was the band leader playing trombone. Graduates of the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts (HSPVA) in Houston, Texas traveled with the group, including Don Pope and Tony Salvaggio on saxophone. Other musicians included Lonnie LaLanne and Calvin Owens (trumpet), Abel Salazar (keyboards), and Mike Hughes (drums). LaLanne and Owens were alumni of B.B. King's band.

Archie Bell & The Drells were signed onto two Kool Jazz Festival tours in 1975-1976 playing to audiences of 20,000-25,000 in stadiums throughout the US.

After moderate chart showings in the late 1970s, the group split in 1980. Archie Bell later released one solo album (I Never Had It So Good - 1981) on Beckett Records and continued to perform with The Drells for the next twenty years. During the 1990s the lineup also included Steve "Stevie G." Guettler (guitar, vocals), Jeff "JT" Strickler (bass guitar, vocals), Steve Farrell (guitar, vocals), Mike Wilson (keyboards, vocals) and Wes Armstrong (drums, vocals) of the Atlanta based group The Rockerz.

On April 16, 2013, Houston, Texas Mayor Annise D Parke honored Archie Bell, Lucious Larkins, and James Wise with a proclamation of Archie Bell and Drells Day.

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

Year Album details Peak chart positions
US 200 US
R&B
1968 Tighten Up 142 15
1969 I Can't Stop Dancing -- 28
There's Gonna Be a Showdown 163 --
1975 Dance Your Troubles Away 95 11
1977 Where Will You Go When The Party's Over -- 47
Hard Not To Like It -- --
1979 Strategy -- 37
1981 I Never Had It So Good
  • Billboard Debut Date: Did not chart
  • Label: Becket Records
      • Only solo album released by Archie Bell
-- --

Singles[edit]

Year Single Peak chart positions Album
US
HOT
US
R&B
UK[2]
1968 Tighten Up
  • Recorded October 1967 in Houston
  • Debuted 3/30/68
1 1 -- Tighten Up
I Can't Stop Dancing
  • Recorded May 1968 in Philadelphia
  • With Leon Huff and The Bobby Martin Orchestra
  • Debuted 7/20/68
9 5 -- I Can't Stop Dancing
Do The Choo Choo
  • Recorded May 1968 in Philadelphia
  • With Leon Huff and The Bobby Martin Orchestra
  • Debuted 9/28/68
44 17 --
Love Will Rain On You
  • B-side of "Do The Choo Choo"
  • Recorded June 3 & 4, 1968, in New York City
-- 25 --
There's Gonna Be a Showdown
  • Recorded November 1, 1968, in Philadelphia
  • With Thom Bell, Leon Huff, & Bobby Martin's Orchestra
  • Debuted 12/14/68
  • Re-released as a UK single in January 1973
21 6 36 There's Gonna Be a Showdown
1969 I Love My Baby
  • Recorded November 1, 1968, in Philadelphia
  • With Thom Bell, Leon Huff, & Bobby Martin's Orchestra
  • Debuted 3/29/69
94 40 --
Just A Little Closer
  • B-side of "I Love My Baby"
  • Recorded October 24, 1968, in Houston
128 -- --
Girl You're Too Young
  • Recorded May 16, 1969, in Philadelphia
  • With Leon Huff & Thom Bell's Orchestra
  • Debuted 6/21/69
59 13 --
My Balloon's Going Up
  • Recorded circa August 4, 1969, in Philadelphia
  • Debuted 9/13/69
87 36 --
A World Without Music
  • Recorded November 15, 1969, in Philadelphia
  • With The Roland Chambers' Orchestra
  • Debuted 12/27/69
90 46 -- Single only
Here I Go Again
  • B-side of "A World Without Music"
  • Recorded May 16, 1969, in Philadelphia
  • With Leon Huff and Thom Bell's Orchestra
  • When re-released as a UK single in October 1972, this song became a surprise hit.
112 -- 11 There's Gonna Be a Showdown
1970 Don't Let The Music Slip Away
  • Recorded November 15, 1969, in Philadelphia
  • With The Roland Chambers' Orchestra
  • Debuted 4/18/70
100 -- -- Single only
Wrap It Up
  • Recorded circa June 1970 in Muscle Shoals, Alabama
  • With The Wade Marcus Orchestra
  • Debuted November 28, 1970
  • Final charting Atlantic single
93 33 --
1973 Dancing To Your Music
  • First single on Glades Records
  • Debuted March 3, 1973
61 11 --
Ain't Nothing For A Man In Love
  • Debuted June 23, 1973
-- 36 --
You Never Know What's On A Woman's Mind
  • B-side of "Ain't Nothing"
-- FLIP --
1975 I Could Dance All Night
  • First single on TSOP/Philadelphia International Records
  • Debuted June 14, 1975
-- 25 -- Dance Your Troubles Away
The Soul City Walk
  • Debuted December 27, 1975
-- 42 13
1976 Let's Groove (Part 1)**
  • Debuted February 28, 1976
-- 7 --
Don't Let Love Get You Down
  • Released summer 1976
  • Re-released as a UK single in June 1986
-- -- 49 Where Will You Go When The Party's Over
1977 Everybody Have A Good Time
  • Debuted April 9, 1977
-- 68 43
Glad You Could Make It
  • Debuted September 17, 1977
-- 63 -- Hard Not To Like It
1978 I've Been Missing You
  • Debuted January 21, 1978
-- 56 --
1979 Strategy
  • Last charting single on Philadelphia Records
  • Debuted August 11, 1979
-- 21 -- Strategy
1981 Any Time Is Right
  • Only charting Archie Bell solo single
  • Debuted May 9, 1981, on Becket Records
-- 49 -- I Never Had It So Good
  • NOTE: "Let's Groove" also charted at #3 on the U.S. Dance chart.
  • NOTE: "Dance Your Troubles Away", while never released as a single, reached #11 on the U.S. Dance chart in late 1975.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Group members
  2. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 52. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  3. ^ Rice, Tim; Rice, Jonathan; Gambaccini, Paul (1990). "Guinness Book of British Hit Singles & Albums". Enfield, Middlesex: Guinness World Records and Guinness Publishing. ISBN 0-85112-398-8. 
  4. ^ "Atlantic Records Discography: 1967". Jazz Discography Project. Retrieved 30 October 2011. 
  5. ^ "Atlantic Records Discography: 1968". Jazz Discography Project. Retrieved 30 October 2011. 
  6. ^ Boone, Mike. "HISTORICAL ANALYSIS - Archie Bell & The Drells". Soul-Patrol Newsletter. Retrieved 30 April 2006. 
  7. ^ a b Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 236. ISBN 0-214-20512-6. 
  8. ^ Gray, Chris; Koshkin, Brett (12 December 2007), The TSU Toronadoes: The twisted history of "Tighten Up", Houston Press, retrieved 30 October 2011 
  • Whitburn, Joel (2011). Record Research Online Database. "Archie Bell" Billboard Chart Discography. Retrieved March 25, 2011.

External links[edit]