Talk Music: Bellamy Brothers celebrate 40 years of success
Aug. 28, 2013 at 3:28 a.m.
Five passports chock full of stamps and visas tell the story of The Bellamy Brothers' nearly 40 years of success.
David and Howard Bellamy were two of the firsts to make the crossover from country to pop and back to country. Since their first hit with "Let Your Love Flow," they have written 11 No. 1 singles and 29 studio albums.
Between chasing cows and singing songs, Howard caught up with Get Out from his old family ranch in Florida to talk about the 40th anniversary, what's kept them going and what's coming up next.
I'd be doing my readers a disservice if I didn't ask: How often do people ask you to hold your body against theirs?
At least once a day.
We get that quite often. My answer is always that that line has never worked for me.
The other one is, "What did you mean by that? Did you mean hold it against me or hold it against me?" The double entendre messes with their mind.
Throughout years of success, you're known as down-to-earth guys. What keeps you grounded?
I think, honestly, the fact that we had an old homeplace to come to that we are very fond of.
It has been like a magnet to us.
It's an old Florida ranch that's been in our family since 1870. No matter where we've been or go, we always crawl back here and heal after the hard tours.
Being raised the way we were - we had a great childhood, as you'll read in the book.
We strayed pretty hard in the '60s and '70s. We did all the crazy things, but we were taught right from wrong when we were growing up, and we were imprinted pretty hard by our parents. That's important in young kids and youth; I think that's what we're missing in our society.
One of the things that's kept us together and going for so many years is having those things as a foundation.
Forty years is right around the corner. What's in store for the big anniversary?
Right now, we're working on our 40-year project. It's quite lengthy. We're in the process of recording - we've got 15 tracks down and a lot of the vocals done. We're working toward a 40-year collection. We're thinking about putting a lot of the old hits like the 15 No. 1 songs and 15 new songs to make it an interesting collection, so they don't hear the old, rehashed tunes again. We're going to give them 15 new songs.
Plus, we're writing our autobiography. We're deep in the process of that. We're doing it with Tom Carter, who did Johnny Cash's book, Merle Haggard's and Tammy Wynette's. We're trying to make this a very big package.
Through nearly four decades, what do you think has stayed the most constant about the band?
I think just our tenacity of just - the fact that this is what we do. We don't look into the future and see a retirement in this. It's just what we do.
I see groups retire after years, but I wonder why they retire when they're not working anyway.
Sometimes, I wonder what we're trying to prove, but we don't know anything else. It's really a passion with both of us. That passion has really held up through the years.
Our career has been very rewarding.
A lot of it, we can't even take credit for. Being able to sing together is a gift we were given, and I've always looked at it that way.
We enjoy every aspect of it. As long as you feel well and stay well, that's the key.
We still love it all. As long as we can hold up, we're going to do it.
You guys collaborated with Kris Kristofferson and even Swiss yodelers on the new album, "The Bellamy Brothers & Friends." How did it come together?
That was a European project we did. What brought it together was we've been touring Europe since "Let Your Love Flow."
It was a No. 1 song in 15 countries and opened up so many international doors.
We have toured the world for these 40 years. We're always doing foreign tours as well as domestic tours.
We met this guy on Universal Records in Switzerland and ended up doing a project with him.
He's got this smoky, raspy voice and ours is just the opposite.
We did a CD together, and it became a double platinum. The record label there - we're on our own label - but we do each project individually. They wanted to do another, so that's why we did "Bellamy Brothers & Friends," because the other was so big. We picked artists in the states who are well known internationally - Kristofferson and Crystal Gayle and unusual artists like Flaco Jimenez, who played with the Texas Tornados, which are very big overseas.
The label picked European artists who are well-known over there. We had this big festival in June - we all met up and did this huge festival and did the entire album.
The songs are the same, but the era has changed. Do you think that effects the meaning behind the music?
You see a demographic broaden through the years.
Music has changed a whole lot, but "Let Your Love Flow" was one of the groundbreaking songs that crossed country over to start with.
It wasn't a No. 1 country song, it was a No. 1 pop song.
We started out having a big pop hit. I think it is No. 43 in all time history of being played. It's just before "Take it Easy" by the Eagles. It's just one of those songs that continues to live for some reason.
I still hear it. It may have waned through the years as far as the number of plays, but it's way up there on the list of being played on the radio. People always seem to know it wherever you go.
Exactly. Everyone knows "Let Your Love Flow," but are there any songs you think were overshadowed by it?
I never looked at it that way. That song opened so many doors for us. We were able to - rather than being a one-hit-wonder - keep the door open.
What runs me crazy is we've had songs that were never released that were better than some that were hits.
There's been songs on albums that were really good songs.