|Birth name||Bruce McMeans|
November 28, 1940 |
Jacksonville, Texas, United States
|Genres||Rock and roll, pop, rockabilly, country|
|Years active||1959 – early 1970s, and semi-active later|
|Labels||LeCam Records, Smash Records, Collectables Records, Mercury Records (UK)|
Channel performed originally for the radio program Louisiana Hayride, and then joined with harmonica player Delbert McClinton singing country music. Channel wrote "Hey! Baby" with Margaret Cobb in 1959 and performed the song for two years before recording it for Fort Worth record producer Bill Smith. It was issued originally on Smith's LeCam label, but as it started to sell well it was acquired for distribution by Smash Records, a subsidiary of Mercury. The song went to #1 in the US during March 1962 and held that position for three weeks. Besides topping the U.S. popular music charts, it became #2 in the United Kingdom as well. It sold more than one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. Channel had four more singles on the Billboard Hot 100, including "Number One Man" which peaked at #52, "Come On Baby" #98, "Going Back To Louisiana" #89 and "Mr. Bus Driver" #90, but none of them were as successful as "Hey! Baby" and he is classified as a one-hit wonder.
Channel toured Europe and was assisted at one gig by the Beatles, who were then still little known. John Lennon, who had "Hey! Baby" on his jukebox, was fascinated by McClinton's harmonica. A popular legend is that Lennon was taught to play harmonica by McClinton, but by that time Lennon had already been playing the instrument live for some time. The harmonica segment in "Hey! Baby" inspired Lennon's playing on the Beatles' first single, 1962's "Love Me Do", as well as later Beatles records, and the harmonica break on Frank Ifield's "I Remember You."
The main appeal of "Hey! Baby" is probably the sustained first note, with a rhythmic pattern in the background. This device was used later during 1962 for the successful song "Sherry" (1962) by the Four Seasons, and recurred on the Beatles' "I Should Have Known Better" (on A Hard Day's Night, 1964).
Channel's only other Top 40 recording in the UK Singles Chart was June 1968's "Keep On", reaching #12, which was written by Wayne Carson Thompson and produced by Dale Hawkins. "Keep On" also charted in Australia. Channel disliked touring, so he settled as a songwriter in Nashville, scoring a number of Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI) Award-winning songs during the 1970s and 1980s – "As Long As I'm Rockin' With You" for John Conlee; "Don't Worry 'bout Me Baby" for Janie Fricke; "Party Time" for T. G. Sheppard; "You're the Best" for Kieran Kane; and "Stand Up" for Mel McDaniel. In 1987, "Hey! Baby" was featured in the popular movie "Dirty Dancing".
In 1995 Channel recorded his own version of the song "Stand Up" for the Memphis-based record label Ice House. Delbert McClinton reprised his harmonica role on it, and several other tracks including another version of "Hey! Baby." Channel then recorded a project in 2002 with singer-songwriter Larry Henley (ex-Newbeats), billed as Original Copy.
Channel has been inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.
In 2001 he became popular again when DJ Ötzi remixed and produced his own version of his classic hit "Hey! Baby" and went to number 1 around the world.
- List of 1960s one-hit wonders in the United States
- List of artists who reached number one in the United States
- List of performers on Top of the Pops
- "Biography by Richie Unterberger". Allmusic.com. Retrieved 21 January 2009.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 100. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 143. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.