Born Lewis Joseph Bedinsky, 21 March 1919, El Paso, Texas
Label owner. The name Lou (or Lew) Bedell probably won't ring a bell with most list members. He was co-founder of Era Records and founder of Dore Records in the fifties. Lou attended Santa Barbara State College, worked as a comedian in nightclubs and later on TV, settling into the Lew Bedell moniker on WOR-TV in New York, where he fronted the "Lew Bedell Show".
In 1955, he was on the West Coast working first for a publisher, Meadowlark Music, and then with his cousin Herb Newman, with whom he formed the first of his L.A.-based labels, Era. About one of every ten Era releases made the Top 50, thanks to their national promotions man George Jay. The hits included "The Wayward Wind" by Gogi Grant (# 1 in 1956, knocking "Heartbreak Hotel" from the top spot), "Cinco Robles" by Russell Arms, "Chanson d' Amour" by Art and Dotty Todd, "The Freeze" by Tony and Joe, "Mission Bell" by Donnie Brooks, "Mr. Custer" by Larry Verne, "Love Letters" by Ketty Lester and "The Birds and the Bees" by Jewel Akens. Discord between Newman and Bedell led to a split-up in 1958.
Bedell formed his own label, Dore (pronounced "Dorrie"), and within months he had a monster hit with "To Know Him Is To Love Him" by the Teddy Bears. Lou Adler and Herb Alpert were brought in as A& R men for Dore and scored hits with Jan and Dean, 1959-60; also with Ronnie Height (Come Softly To Me), Deane Hawley (Look For A Star) and, somewhat later (1964), the Superbs (Baby Baby All the Time), by which time Alpert was successful with the Tijuana Brass. One of the most interesting hits on Dore was the catchy instrumental "Percolator (Twist)" by Billy Joe and the Checkmates, a number ten charter in 1962. The writers were listed as Lou Bideu and Ernie Freeman, but Bedell was a wheeler-dealer, not a songwriter or a musician, and most likely Freeman was the sole composer. Publicity photos were sent out showing Billy Joe (Hunter) as the leader of the group.
Bedell posed as Billy Joe, but in reality there was no such musician. "Percolator" was recorded by Ernie Freeman on xylophone, Rene Hall on guitar, Red Callender on bass and Earl Palmer on drums. "Percolator" (available on the CD "Teen Beat Vol. 5", Ace 766) was followed by at least 14 other Dore singles by Billy Joe and the Checkmates, which all sold poorly. In the 1970s, tiring of the changing rock world, Lou turned to recording successful comedy albums by Hudson & Landry. In 1995 Bedell issued two CDs of Dore classics.
CD : The Dore Story : Postcards From Los Angeles 1958-1964. (Ace 1293). 28 tracks. Released 2011.
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