By that time, Bell had been drafted into the
"My manager called and said, '"Tighten Up" has just gone gold.' I got my transistor and started listening," Bell said. "I said, 'Hey guys, check this out, that's my new hit song.' They said, 'You're telling a lie.' I said, 'No, it's the truth.'"
More than 46 years after its release, "Tighten Up" by
Bell will be singing that song, along with other Drells hits including "There's Gonna Be a Showdown," Saturday at the Williams Lake Dance Club Reunion.
A generation of radio listeners still recalls "Tighten Up" fondly. It's a simple, up-tempo number memorable for Bell's spoken word intro: "Hi everybody, I'm
Bell, 69, still lives in
"I heard a DJ saying, 'Nothing good every comes from
"Tighten Up" refers to a saying the members of the Drells had at the time.
"We'd say, 'See you later, brother, tighten up,'" Bell said. "We used it as a slang word, like 'word up' or 'right on.'"
Later, Bell said, Drells member
Bell said he got his draft notice before "Tighten Up" was recorded. As depressed as he was to be shipping out and leaving his budding music career behind, Bell said he wanted to record a positive song before he left.
"I wanted to do music that would uplift people and get them dancing," Bell said. "I started out doing blues, and I had enough of the blues."
Bell said his fellow soldiers at first refused to believe he was the voice behind a No. 1 record of the time. He said they only started believing when a newspaper profile referred to him as "the richest G.I. since
"After that, I had an entourage like you wouldn't believe," he said.
Although many media accounts say Bell was in
Bell said he still performs more than 100 days a year. His
"Tighten Up" continues to be Bell's calling card -- "If I don't do it, they'd run me out of town," he said. Over the years, Bell has recorded different versions of his signature song, including one with a guest rapper on an upcoming CD.
But Bell said the song is just one number in what he promises will be an energetic show.
"When I come on, the party's on," he said. "I always get the people riled up and the party started. That's why I'm still performing."
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