The Bellamy Brothers
Wormy Dog Saloon
311 E. Sheridan
They’re a pair of lighthearted old hippies that time couldn’t bear to part with. Raised on a farm in Florida, they’re country boys at heart, but their tastes travel widely across reggae, gospel, folk and rock.
They’re Howard and David Bellamy, aka The Bellamy Brothers, who scored one of the 1970’s biggest hits in “Let Your Love Flow,” then went on to be one of the best charting country acts of the late ’70s and ’80s, with more than 50 hits. The group performs Friday at the Wormy Dog Saloon.
The duo’s big break came when fellow Floridian Jim Stafford recorded David’s greasy rock come-on “Spiders and Snakes,” and took it to No. 3 on the pop charts. That enabled them to leave Florida and make for Los Angeles, looking for the big time.
They found it in an unusual place, thanks to their friendship with Neil Diamond’s band — some of the first people they met on the West Coast. Diamond’s drummer Dennis St. John directed them to a song, “Let Your Love Flow,” by their roadie, Larry Williams.
“He said, ‘This sounds like something you guys would do.’ And we freaked out when we heard it, because it was one of the best songs we’d ever heard. So then we had to convince the record labels to record it. They didn’t want to,” Howard Bellamy said. “We loved it, and finally talked (a label) into recording it, and the song took off so fast it was one of those things like, ‘How do we keep up with it?’” That 1976 hit not only went to No. 1 in America, but in 15 other countries as well. It launched their career, and although they never had anything quite that world-beating, they’ve continued to rack up hits here and abroad.
When their second album, “Plain & Fancy,” didn’t find the same success as “Let Your Love Flow,” they moved away from folk/soft rock into country for 1978’s “Beautiful Friends.” Over the next decade, they’d score many hits, including “If I Said You Had a Beautiful Body Would You Hold It Against Me,” “You Ain’t Just Whistlin’ Dixie,” “Dancin’ Cowboys” and “Do You Love as Good as You Look.”
Although the siblings began to lose commercial favor in the ’90s, they remained a popular touring act and adventurous artists. Their last album, 2007’s “Jesus Is Coming,” was a gospel record, and they’re in the process of recording another. It’s another of their longtime loves.
“That’s really where we cut our teeth, and learned how to play and sing, in church every Sunday. So that’s how we grew up and after a while we just decided to do a gospel album, and I enjoyed doing that album as much as anything,” Bellamy said. “We’ve always done things a little different, and we’ve done a lot of variety, and we enjoy all of it. I suppose at some point, people wondered what we did do, but I think our fan base now kind of expects anything out of us.”
Over the last few years, they’ve engaged in a number of collaborations. In 2006, for the 30th anniversary of “Let Your Love Flow,” The Bellamy Brothers released “Angels & Outlaws, Vol. 1,” featuring duet re-recordings of their biggest hits, with George Jones, Dolly Parton, Alan Jackson and Willie Nelson just some of the big names. In 2009 they released a single and video, “Guilty of the Crime,” recorded and shot with The Bacon Brothers. Last year, they recorded an album with Switzerland’s Gola. It spent six weeks atop the Swiss charts and will eventually be released in America.
The Bacon video got into rotation on CMT, and proved a minor sensation, although nothing like their latest, “Jalapeños.” A snarky song about political correctness and scandal, it observes that life’s less a bowl of cherries than a jar of jalapeños because “what you do and say today … it’ll just come back and burn your ass tomorrow.”
The song, which laments the loss of freedom of speech, was ironically banned on radio and CMT. Not because it uses the word “ass,” but because they note the warning on Viagra, and wonder why since “there ain’t no such thing as being too erect.”
The ban didn’t hurt much. The video — which features people in Tiger Woods and Sarah Palin masks — received nearly 1.5 million hits on YouTube.
“It actually helped. It’s probably the most requested song we have in our show these days,” Bellamy said, expressing their reason for putting humor into many of their songs. “It’s kind of like the role of humor in life I guess. Without it, it’d be a pretty boring place.”