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Childhood and adolescence
Fell was born in Dora, Alabama on May 13, 1921 and got his first guitar at the age of nine. Later he learned mandolin and took singing lessons. When he was 13 years old, his father died; and three years later he moved alone to California, where he spent some time in a camp of the Civilian Conservation Corps. After he briefly lived in Alabama again, Fell and his mother moved to the US West Coast. There he began playing in 1943 as bassist for Merl Lindsay.
Fell started his record career in 1945 as a member of Billy Hughes band. His first record was with Hughes on Fargo Records. He then began his solo career for Cortney and 4 Star Records, although none of his singles were hits there.
During his first session for RCA in Hollywood, he recorded a song that would become a hit. Although the A-side, "Don't Drop It", was underplayed, the B-side, "Truck Drivin Man", became a classic, especially in the trucker country music scene. In 1955, he made a guest appearance on ABC-TV's Ozark Jubilee.
Fell remained with RCA for the following two years; however, he never produced a single with the same success. RCA extended his contract in 1956. In 1959 he began military service in the U.S. Army and was stationed in West Germany. Along with Elvis Presley, who was at the same time a GI, he wrote the song "Mississippi River". The single was never released, but the rights were later sold for $30,000 in 1996.
Due to the lack of success and health problems his career fell short. Later, for a short time, he managed country star Buck Owens and wrote a song in 1961 with Bobby Edwards titled "You're The Reason". In 1962, Fell moved to Nashville, Tennessee where he was a songwriter for various publishing companies until he retired. Published in 1993 with Bear Family Records, the album Truck Drivin Man was released with his collected works. Terry Gordon noted that it was discontinued in 1998, but revised again. Because of his achievements in country music he was inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame.
Fell died April 4, 2007 in Madison, Tennessee.
Research is still being done on one title, and its date of release has not yet been determined: He wrote and recorded a novelty record on the Lode label under the name Brother George Underbrush, called "Green Garden Hose." It was divided into two parts, one on each side. He later released a cassette on Lode that contained several more of his strange musings.
All 4 Star and RCA plates were published under the name Terry Fell and the Fellers.
|Paper Heart / You Don't Want Me Anymore||1112||with the Red River Rangers|
|4 Star Records|
|1947||Paper Heart / You Don’t Want Me Anymore||1160|
|1947||You Ran Around / I’ve Done All I Know To Do||1161|
|1947||You Are My Sunshine / Will There Be a Light In Your Window||1162|
|1947||Guess I’m Better Off Without You / Rainbow at Midnight||1163|
|1948||There’s a Gold Moon Shining / You’re Not Wanted Here||1206|
|1948||Napanee / Little by Little||1211|
|1948||Snow Beard / Put Another In Heart||1212|
|1950||Snow Dear / With Another In Your Heart||1426|
|1954||Let’s Stay Together Till After Christmas / We Wanna See Santa Do The Mambo||4X-0009|
|1954||Don’t Drop It / Truck Driving Man||4X-0010|
|1955||You Don’t Give a Hang About Me / Get Aboard My Wagon||4X-0079|
|1955||Mississippi River Shuffle / He’s In Love with You||4X-0114|
|1955||I’m Hot To Trot / Fa-So-La||4X-0149|
|1955||That’s What I Like / I Nearly Go Crazy||20-6256|
|That’s The Way The Big Ball Bounces / What Am I Worth?||20-6353|
|If I Didn’t Have You / Over and Over||20-6444|
|Consolation Prize / What! Bam! Hot Ziggity Zam||20-6515|
|Don’t Do It, Joe / I Can Hear You Cluckin’||20-6621|
|1956||Play The Music Louder / Caveman||20-6707|
|1958||Child Bride / Paper Kite||2004|
|1960||Y’all Be Good Now / Who Whose||1071|
|1964||If I Could Learn To Love You Less / Music City U.S.A.||192|
- 1993: Truck Driving Man (Bear Family works edition)
- Biography of Terry Fell from rockabilly.nl
- Biography from the Alabama Music Office
- Alabama Music History Blog: "Dora Native Terry Fell"
- "Terry Fell, Forgotten Father of Trucker Music"
- Terry Fell, "Green Garden Hose," parts 1 and 2, performed by "Brother George Underbrush," Lode Records LO 2002, 45 rpm 7" single, date unknown; discogs.com image. Retrieved 26 September 2014.