BILLY BLAND (By Shaun Mather)
Born Calvin Bland, Jr., 4 April 1932, Wilmington, North Carolina
Best known for his number 7 pop hit in 1960, Let the Little Girl Dance, Billy Bland actually cut over a dozen singles for the New York label, Old Town. Despite a wide range of styles, none of these ever achieved the success he'd tantalisingly tasted just once. He made his first records for the Imperial label in New Orleans in the mid-'50s, as a member of the Bees, including Toy Bell, an early version of Dave Bartholomew's My Ding-a-Ling. He left the Bees in 1955, and signed for Old Town. After three unsuccessful singles he was in the studio (with Mickey Baker on guitar) showing Titus Turner how to do Let The little Girl Dance. Unknown to Bland though, Henry Glover recorded his demonstration version and the rest was history.
Follow-up attempts were made in styles ranging from Jackie Wilson to Bo Diddley and doo-wop to New Orleans r&b, but none were successful. He finished with Old Town in 1963 and was last heard of running a soul food restaurant in Harlem. Perhaps the Doch or Bill can pop over and check this out!
Recommended listening: Let the Little Girl Dance - Ace 370
Old Town discography: Old Town 1016 - Chicken In The Basket / The Fat Man - 1956 Old Town 1022 - Chicken Hop / Oh You For Me - 1956 Old Town 1035 - If I Could Be Your Man / I Had A Dream - 1957 Tip Top 708 - Chicken In The Basket / Chicken Hop - 1958 Old Town 1076 - Let The Little Girl Dance / Sweet Thing - 1960 Old Town 1082 - You Were Born To Be Loved / Pardon Me - 1960 Old Town 1088 - Make Believe Lover / Harmonys - 1960 Old Town 1093 - Everything That Shines Ain't Gold / Keep Talkin' That Sweet Talk - 1960 Old Town 1098 - I Cross My Heart / Steady Kind - 1961 Old Town 1105 - My Heart's On Fire* / Can't Stop Her From Dancing - 1961 *Written By Billy Bland. Old Town 1109 - Do The Bug With Me / Uncle Bud - 1961 Old Town 1114 - All I Want To Do Is Cry / Busy Little Boy - 1962 Old Town 1124 - Mama Stole The Chicken / I Spent My Life Loving You - 1962 Old Town 1128 - Darling Won't You Think Of Me / How Many Hearts - 1962 Old Town 1143 - Doing The Mule / Farmer In The Dell - 1963 Old Town 1151 - A Little Touch Of Your Love / Little Boy Blue - 1963
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