Bellamy Brothers Keep Their Global Popularity Spinning
Though many American acts cast eager eyes toward Europe, seeking to expand their fan base, the Bellamy Brothers have long been stars on the international circuit and they've never been busier.
"I have people ask me all the time 'how do we do that?' Our success overseas really started with 'Let Your Love Flow,'" David Bellamy says referencing their chart-topping 1976 hit. "That's what allowed us to keep on all these years because it was a world hit. It was so big in so many countries it allowed us to keep going back."
These days their creative juices continue to flow and the Bellamys have several new projects in the works, including a second gospel album, a duet collection with American and Swiss artists and a collaboration with Germany's multi-platinum selling D.J. Ötzi. (Pictured above)
"Howard and I were in Berlin for nine days recording," says David. "We just finished that and it's going to be out the first of the year."
In 2010, the Bellamys teamed with Swiss rocker Göla on 'BB&G: Greatest Hits Sessions,' which spent seven weeks at No. 1 on the Swiss Music chart and has been certified platinum. In the wake of the album's release, the Bellamys and Göla joined forces for a 10-city tour of Switzerland last year. Those who weren't lucky enough to catch one of the high-octane performances can now enjoy them at home as the tour was captured for a live album and DVD, 'BB&G Platinum,' which was released on Sept. 7.
"It actually ended up being the largest tour of the year over there," David says of the trek, which sold out at every venue. "They recorded the shows and literally filmed everything. We started seeing that footage and hearing it and it looked and sounded real good, so we decided to put it all together for a CD/DVD release."
Their work with Göla has also spurred another Swiss project. The Bellamys are producing duet album pairing legendary Swiss artists with American performers. "We'll be starting on this probably in the next month," David says. "I had to learn a lot of Swiss folk songs. It was very different. There are a few tunes on there that I definitely had never heard, but there's some really cool stuff. We're just starting to dive into that and we're going to be lining up some artists from the States, classic artists to do duets."
David credits Universal Music Switzerland chief Jean-Marie Fontana with suggesting they collaborate with Göla and. Ötzi.
"He's the one that had the initial idea of doing the 'BB&G' album with Göla and after that was so successful he said, 'You know we ought to try to do this with one of the German artists," David notes.
Ötzi has sold over 15 million albums with several No. 1 hits in Germany, Austria, England and Japan.
"The whole album is chock full of his hits and our hits, and then we do a bunch of big world hits," says David, adding that they've covered Billy Swan's 'I Can Help,' Neil Diamond's 'Sweet Caroline' and Kenny Rogers' 'The Gambler.'
"It's quite an interesting album and it came out real well. I didn't know how it would come out when we started because we didn't know Ötzi that well and we knew Göla really well, but we got into it and it sounds really great. We had a lot of fun doing it."
In addition to all the recording they've been doing, the Bellamys have also continued to tour extensively this year in Europe and Scandinavia. Howard and David dedicated their July performance in Lyngdal, Norway to the victims who lost their lives in the horrific attack on a summer camp.
"I think 9/11 is the closest thing to relate to that," says David. "[There was] the same sort of feel as it was here after 9/11. It was different in one way because it was a home grown terrorist, but it was still just like people couldn't believe it. They were in shock."
David acknowledges they had expected their show in Norway to be cancelled, but the promoter asked if they'd perform and they were happy to oblige.
"There was a little community down the road that two of the victims were from and they were still missing at that time," David recalls. "So it was hitting home with them. Everybody hadn't even grasped the reality of it yet. It's hard to believe that something like that could happen."
The Bellamys are spending most of September stateside with concerts in Texas, Louisiana and Georgia then they head back overseas for shows in Switzerland and Denmark the last week of month. They'll return to Germany to perform in November.
Howard and David are also working on recording their second gospel album, a follow-up to their acclaimed 'Jesus Is Coming' collection.
"We had all the songs for it and we were going to put it out last year sometime, then when one thing and another started happening with the Göla project and we just had to shove it back a little bit," David says. "We kept working on it here and there. It was actually a blessing in a way because we just picked at it enough to where we ironed out every wrinkle and it just sounds incredible.
"There's 13 or 14 songs and all of them are new songs except for two," he continues. "We recorded 'Suppertime' with a little reggae feel. I've got me and Howard, our sister, Ginger, and Lucy, our secretary. She's retired now, but we got Lucy and Ginger to come in and sing on it and it's really cool. Lucy is actually a great singer. She and Ginger used to sing a lot when they were younger. We also recorded 'Spirit in the Sky.' We did a rockin' version of it. It sounds like a gospel acid rock."
The duo also recently filmed a new video for the tune 'Mexico Came Here,' penned by David's son Jesse. The inspiration for the video treatment came when Howard read a story on his iPad about guys shooting marijuana across the border with a catapult.
"It's a real story," David laughs. "Some guy down on the Mexican side of the border was flying it across the border to someone on the other side. Howard had just read that and we were laughing. About that same time, Willie [Nelson] got busted again, so we just combined the two stories to start the video out."
In the video, the two shady men load the catapult with marijuana and when they shoot it, it lands on Willie's bus. "People seem to like it," David says of the clip. He says he and Howard enjoy the opportunity to make people smile and also create a dialog about controversial issues. "It's part of what music does. It's a medium to get opinions across whether they are love songs or whether they are political anthems or whether it's comedy. Some of my favorite songs mix all of it up."