Freddie Bell & the Bellboys, All Flavors
Freddie Bell and the Bellboys
Vegas Rocker Freddie Bell Dies at 76; February 10, 2008
LAS VEGAS (AP) - Freddie Bell, a forerunner in the 1950s rock 'n' roll era whose toe-tapping versions of "Giddy Up A Ding Dong" and "Hound Dog" inspired Elvis Presley to cover the songs, has died. He was 76. Bell died late Sunday in a Las Vegas hospital of complications from cancer, said his publicist Norm Johnson.

Bell was performing at the Sands casino-hotel on the Las Vegas Strip in the mid-1950s when Presley was just an opening act across the street at the New Frontier. Bell's upbeat covers, and perhaps his knee-wiggling dance moves, inspired Presley, Johnson said. "He loved Freddie's version," Johnson said. "He added new words and a better beat."

Bell went to Las Vegas in 1953 from his hometown of Philadelphia and was considered one of the great lounge acts of the time, alongside the trio of Sam Butera, Louis Prima and Keely Smith, Johnson said. He was good friends with some of the most popular performers of the era.

"They remained friends throughout Elvis' lifetime," Johnson said. "Freddie was very, very close to Frank Sinatra. That was one of his compadres. Whenever they were in any town performing, Frank would show up, or Freddie would go to see him." Bell also appeared in a number of films, including 1956's "Rock Around the Clock," starring Bill Haley.

Source: Associated Press, 2008

All Flavors:
When Freddie Bell and The Bellboys swept through the British Isles on a highly successful tour in the spring of 1957, they proved again that rock 'n' roll has become a quickly inflammable export from American teenagers to their counterparts abroad. Freddie's recording of Giddy-Up-A-Ding-Dong had already become a rocketing best seller in England, and the appearance of the group in person had long been anticipated by Britain's teenagers who are no less demonstrably enthusiastic than are America's energetic rock 'n' roll supporters. Freddie and The Bellboys had also made an impact throughout Western Europe by means of what the London New Musical Express described as their "electrifying performance" in the Rock Around the Clock movie. In fact, from Britain, Freddie and his colleagues went immediately to Paris in June, 1957, where they were playing four weeks in the renowned Olympia Music Hall as the sale American representatives in an International Festival. They have also performed in Australia, Manila, Singapore and Hong Kong.

In America, Freddie and The Bellboys were constantly active in traveling package shows, night club engagements, and TV appearances. They have appeared with consistent success at important locations like the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas and the Riverside in Reno. Their TV credits include Dave Garroway's Wide Wide World, and the Dean Martin - Jerry Lewis TV show. Their second film was Columbia's "Rumble on the Docks", and they were also featured in American International's Rock around the World, parts of which were shot overseas to show the fervor of international teenage reaction to rock 'n' roll. An indication, by the way, of the Bellboys' drawing force in Britain is their fee of $5,500 a week during their British tour.

Freddie was born in Philadelphia and by the time he was graduated from high school, he was an enthusiastic trombonist, bassist, drummer and singer. He worked with various combos, learning the most from Ernie Ventura, and finally he formed his own band. After gaining 22 weeks experience in the midwest at $65 a week per man, Freddie and The Bellboys won their first important break by being booked into the plush Sands Hotel in Las Vegas. Their engagement at the Sands led to their Mercury recording contract and to their first picture. Bob Shad, A&R executive at Mercury, had been sent a record of The Bellboys. He decided to go to Vegas himself to catch the act, and immediately signed them to a contract. Freddie credits much of his success since Las Vegas to the generous help he and his combo received while there, from such stars as Jerry Lewis, Nat Cole, Sammy Davis Jr., and Danny Thomas. These show business experts gave The Bellboys their time, advice and encouragement; and Jerry put The Bellboys on his TV show. The 30 weeks at the Sands established The Bellboys.

Asked by the New Musical Express to tell his fans some details about his private life and hobbies, Freddie answered: "I'm very happily married and have two wonderful children. You'll probably realize that I don't often get a lot of time to myself but when I do, I like to relax on any local golf course during the day, and then listen to other musicians in the evenings. It doesn't appear likely that I'll be playing much golf in the future, however, as there are several movie commitments lined up both for the group and myself as a single. It'll mean a lot of hard work, but it's the sort of work I enjoy".

Meet The Bellboys:
Jack Kane - Saxophone
Frank Brent - Guitar
Jerry Mayo - Trumpet
Russ Conti - Piano
Chick Keeney
- Drums

Source: Liner notes "All Flavors", Mercury Records