The Pop Culture Information Society...

These are the messages that have been posted on inthe00s over the past few years.

Check out the messageboard archive index for a complete list of topic areas.

This archive is periodically refreshed with the latest messages from the current messageboard.

Check for new replies or respond here...

Subject: Freddie Bell inspirer of Elvis Presley's version of Hound Dog dies.

Written By: Philip Eno on 02/14/08 at 5:50 am

From The Times Online Obits

Freddie Bell was a 1950s rock'n'roll pioneer whose version of Hound Dog inspired Elvis Presley to cover the song. He also had a hit with Giddy up a Ding Dong which he performed with his band the Bellboys in the seminal 1956 teen film Rock Around The Clock.

Born Freddie Belo to Italian-American parents in Philadelphia in 1931, he joined Ernie Ventura's band while still in his teens. In 1951 he formed his own group, the Bellboys, as one of the first white combos to play black music, specialising in covers of the r&b hits of the day. By 1953 Bell and his five-strong backing group landed a booking at the Sands Casino, Las Vegas, where they performed regularly over the next few years.

In 1955 Bell made his first recording back in Philadelphia, a reworking of Big Mama Thornton's Hound Dog, with toned-down lyrics as the original words were judged too raunchy for a white audience. In April the following year Elvis Presley, who was in Las Vegas, heard Bell singing Hound Dog. As they chatted afterwards, Presley asked if he might cover the song. Bell agreed, but while his record company buried his version as an album cut on the LP Rock & Roll All Flavors, Presley's version was released as a single and soared to the top of the charts.

Bell had better luck with the novelty rocker Giddy up a Ding Dong, which he recorded for the Wing label in 1956. Once again Las Vegas proved the key when the film producer Sam Katzman saw him perform the song and invited Bell and the Bellboys to appear in the first rock'n'roll movie, Rock Around the Clock. Bell sang Giddy up a Ding Dong and Teach You to Rock in the film, and the former rose to No4 in the British charts - although, oddly, it was not a hit in the US.

A second film appearance followed in Rumble on the Docks (1956), but there were no more hits. Bell continued to work steadily as a nightclub performer and was still appearing at Las Vegas well past retirement age, billed as the Freddie Bell Show. Rockin' is Our Business, a CD reissue of his 1950s recordings, helped to revive interest in his work on its release in 1996.

Freddie Bell, singer and songwriter, was born on September 29, 1931. He died of cancer on February 10, 2008, aged 76.

Check for new replies or respond here...