July 27--Funny how life is often a circle, as moments from the past catch up with the present.
Just ask legendary country singer Howard Bellamy, whose past includes yodeling and women's panties strewn all over a Wisconsin highway.
More about that later.
Bellamy Brother fans won't be too surprised by stories about yodeling and underwear, seeing as how the brothers often infuse humor, word play and double entendres into their music.
And their fans love it.
After almost 40 years in the music business, the Bellamy Brothers are still going strong, playing about150 dates each year, all across the world.
They just returned from a European jaunt and will appear on the Dr. Pepper Stage in Rural Retreat tonight at 8:15. Their performance will cap off the town's Heritage Days celebration.
"People can expect a whole list of Bellamy Brother songs," Howard Bellamy said. "We are on our 38th year and we do as many hits as we can in the show because that's what people really want to hear. But for our own entertainment, we stick a few new things in there. There will be 90 minutes of that."
After nearly four decades, it seems like touring would get old and a bit boring. But that's not the case, Bellamy said.
"If you played to the same crowds every day it might," he said. "But every day is a different place and a different crowd and you see the songs bring back memories for people of what they were doing at certain points in their lives. I guess we are still obsessed and possessed.
"We have a real passion for what we do. I doubt you will ever hear about a Bellamy Brother retiring."
Some of the new songs the brothers will play tonight will probably come off their album released in May, "Bellamy Brothers & Friends: Across the Sea." It is a collaboration of Swiss and American music that includes songs with artists such as Kris Kristofferson, Crystal Gayle and Carlene Carter.
The brothers are popular in Europe, especially Switzerland.
"Europeans are big on melody and they understand our sound for some reason and it just clicked. We are big on melody. If a song has a great groove, a great melody and great lyrics, it is hard to miss," Bellamy said.
Also on the album is a song with Oesch's die Dritten, a Swiss yodeling family.
Country music fans have always appreciated a good yodel. The Bellamys are no exception.
"We listened to Jimmie Rodgers, the Blue Yodeler, growing up," Bellamy said. "We've always loved great yodelers. And when we ran into her (the lead singer) we had to put her on a record. It's just unbelievable how this girl yodels."
The Bellamys grew up in Darby, Fla., playing music with their musician father and working the cattle farm and orange groves.
"We own the same ranch where we were born and raised," Bellamy said. "We had an incredible childhood. We played music with our dad, that's how we learned to play and sing, and in church."
The brothers cut their musical teeth listening to old country greats like Rodgers, Jim Reeves and Eddie Arnold. Their favorite has always been Merle Haggard.
During the orange harvest season, the brothers picked right alongside of Jamacian immigrants.
"We'd sing those island songs all day and pick oranges with them," Bellamy said. "There was music coming from all directions, and I think we absorbed a little of all it."
Their big break came when Jim Stafford recorded David Bellamy's song, "Spiders and Snakes" in the mid 1970s." Later, in 1976, the brothers scored big with "Let Your Love Flow," an international mega hit.
Although "Let Your Love Flow," was a pop tune, it was country music audiences that embraced the duo. "If I Said You Had a Beautiful Body (Would You Hold it Against Me)" was the first in a string of 14 No. 1 singles.
After all the years, all the songs, all the performances, all the traveling together, Howard and David still enjoy each other's company.
"That's probably the question we get asked most: how do you get along?" Howard Bellamy said. "It amazes me that families can't get along. We owe it to our parents. There used to be this thing called a switch growing up. You'd break off your own and get your behind switched if you didn't do what you were told and do your chores. They taught us how to work together at a young age."
It goes without saying that the brothers have lots of stories to tell and, finally, they are telling them in an authorized biography on which they are working.
"We've done a lot of crazy things; some we are almost reluctant to tell," Bellamy said. "We lived through the 60s and 70s. We've seen a lot of things and been a lot of places, so we have some stories."
One involves a promotion for their hit, "World's Greatest Lover."
"David had the bright idea to get some woman's underwear and put "World's Greatest Lover" across the bum, so we did, and they sold like hotcakes," Howard Bellamy said.
"So, we ordered a big re-order, but when we got on the bus, we had too much, so we stored about12 dozen on top of the bus. We were on tour in Wisconsin and that was back in the day of CB radios. We kept getting calls saying, 'hey you got something flying off the top of your bus!' They were flying off onto car mirrors, fence posts and one person saw them on a deer's antlers! We never recovered them."
And because life can be a circle, a pair of the white and pink promotional panties recently resurfaced.
"In an autograph line the other day, a lady had a pair of those things that we had signed, but the ink had worn off," Bellamy said. "We re-signed them and told her to hold onto those things, they are pretty rare!"
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