The Bells (Billy Ward and His Dominoes song)

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"The Bells"
Single by Billy Ward & The Dominoes
from the album Billy Ward & His Dominoes
A-side "Pedal Pushin' Papa"
Released 1952 (1952)
Format 7"
Genre Rhythm and blues
Length 3:10
Label Federal
"The Bells"
Single by James Brown
from the album The Amazing James Brown
B-side "And I Do Just What I Want"
Released 1960 (1960)
Format 7"
Recorded 1960
Genre Rhythm and blues
Length 2:54
Label King
Writer(s) Billy Ward
James Brown charting singles chronology
"This Old Heart"
"The Bells"

"The Bells" is a rhythm and blues song written by Billy Ward and Rose Ann Marks and recorded by Billy Ward and The Dominoes in 1952, featuring Clyde McPhatter on lead tenor. It was released on Federal Records as the B-side of the group's single "Pedal Pushin' Papa". It was a bigger hit than the A-side, reaching #3 on the R&B chart. ("Pedal Pushin' Papa" charted #4 R&B.)

James Brown version[edit]

"The Bells" played an important part in the early careers of James Brown and The Famous Flames. In their performances on the chitlin' circuit the group would act out the story of bereavement told in the lyrics, pushing a doll representing the dead woman across the stage in a baby carriage. As they passed Brown, he would fall to his knees crying and sobbing, eventually segueing into "Please, Please, Please". The routine was so popular that audiences sometimes became violent if they tried to perform the song without it.[1]

Brown recorded "The Bells" in 1960 as his first single for King Records. It reached number 68 on the Billboard pop chart.[2]


  1. ^ Smith, R.J. (2012). The One: The Life and Music of James Brown, 88. New York: Gotham Books.
  2. ^ White, Cliff (1991). "Discography". In Star Time (pp. 54–59) [CD booklet]. New York: PolyGram Records.