Welcome to Mellow's Log Cabin. This blog's purpose is to supply information on a diversity of American southern music - ranging from country, blues, old-time and folk to R&B, rock'n'roll and rockabilly. I regularly present my research results about artists, labels, shows and also give guest writers a chance to publish their texts here on occasion.

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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Dwain Bell story



Listen to "Rock and Roll on a Saturday Night" (Summit 45-110)


Dwain Bell's record "Rock and Roll on a Saturday Night" b/w "I'm Gonna Ride" has become a collector's item since its first reissue in 1978 on the White Label LP "Kentucky Rockabilly." Although his songs are very popular in the rockabilly scene, Dwain Bell himself managed to leave behind no whole biography except some snippets of info. Last year in October, I had a short correspondence with Keith Turner's daughter, who was so kind to gave me some more details on Bell's short career.

Dwain Bell was born in Central City, Kentucky, and presumably lived most of his life in the Blue Grass State. In the 1950s and 1960s, Bell often played with the Turner Brothers at local dances. In addition, sometimes the Turners' father (fiddle) and mother (drums) as well as a great uncle (dobro) joined the trio on personal appearances. By the time of his Summit recordings, he lived in Evanston, Indiana. Summit Records was based in Central City and recorded mostly obscure Kentucky artists. The first record was released by Eddie Gaines in 1958 and the label was active at least until 1960. The records were pressed by Rite and Southern.

Dwain Bell (right) during a personal appearance at a talent contest. The guitarist is Kenneth Turner.

"Rock and Roll on a Saturday Night" (written by Dennis Little) and "I'm Gonna Ride" (written by Bill Springer of Whits Plains, Kentucky) were recorded probably in 1959 in Central City with Dwain Bell on vocals and rhythm guitar, Keith Turner on lead guitar, and Kenneth Wayne (only called Wayne on the record label) on upright bass. Actually, "I'm Gonna Ride", the more country-ish side, was intended for the A side but today, it's mostly overlooked. One might wonder about this straight and sparse rockabilly, for it was 1959 and rockabilly was vanishing. Most artists used saxophones, pianos, and electric bass guitars on their recordings but Bell stuck with the rural rockabilly sound. It was probably not until the 1960s that Kenneth Turner switched to electric bass.

Billboard review on April 6, 1959

To me, it is not known if the record sold well but it is a fact that neither Bell nor the Turner Brothers made a living out of music. Keith Turner still playes guitar at local dances while Bell had some health problems during the last years. His son is also playing guitar and sings gospel music.

Sources: Rockin' Country Style, Billboard issues April/6/1959 and April/20/1959, Buffalo Bop 55189 "Hep Cat Rockabilly", special thanks to Keitha Turner

5 comments:

mechanix41 said...

hi there
can you post dwain bell's I'm Gonna ride? this one was great thanks

Mellow said...

mechnix41,

here's a link for you: http://www.megaupload.com/?d=H11R6PMC

mechanix41 said...

Mellow thank you very much for the Dwain Bell "I'm Gonna Ride" post

Keitha said...

awesome write up! :)
btw... Keith Turner is on the Left and Dwain Bell is on the right. It is my understanding this was taken at a regional talent show.

Joshua Canup said...

great song I'm married to Dennis Little`s granddaughter. She had never heard this song til a couple years ago. He was a very talented man as is his son. I wish i could have met him. Do you know if Dwain is still alive I would love for him to meet him