2014 has seen country music mainstays The Bellamy Brothers racking up the miles. David Bellamy tells Billboard that they, to quote Hank Snow, have been everywhere this year.
"Our tour has actually zigzagged the world this year. We started off the year in India and Sri Lanka, came back and did a lot of dates in the United States. Then we went back to Switzerland, then Texas, and Germany. We're in Indiana at the moment, then in the middle part of August, we'll go to the Middle East," he says of their whirlwind schedule.
2015 offers no easing up on that pace. The duo will embark on a 40th Anniversary celebration, marking four decades since they first signed with Curb Records and kicked off a career that has included hits such as "Let Your Love Flow," "Old Hippie," and "Kids Of The Baby Boom."
David relates to Billboard that he and his brother Howard plan to make the most of the milestone. "We're doing a lot of things for the 40th. We've been working on a special album that will have 17 of our biggest hits, and 17 new recordings," he says.
The Bellamy Brothers have been in the news as of late, with one music journalist citing them as one of the first to mix rap beats with country music -- as they did in 1987 on the single "Country Rap," which peaked at No. 31 on the Billboard Country Singles chart. "I don't know if they gave us the credit or the blame for that," David said sheepishly. "I'm still trying to figure that one out. We did that because we've always been curious, and mixing up musical styles was something we've always been into. We've always been passionate about reggae, and have always infiltrated that into country. And, going back to the beginning, country-rock is where we came from."
Bellamy did say that the duo shares a connection to one of the biggest rap groups of the '80s and '90s. "We had a friend who played keyboard with us for a while, and he also did some engineering. After he left us, one of the first things he worked on was the 2 Live Crew album. I remember him playing me some of it, and thinking 'Man, that is weird stuff.' I don't know if we actually were the beginning of country rap, but I do think we were 'Bro Country' before it was cool."
A Bellamy Brothers concert is not complete without the nostalgic tip of the hat to the south, "You Ain't Just Whistlin' Dixie." A No. 5 single at radio, the song also made a major impact on the Nashville sound. "That is one of my favorite songs I've ever written. It was about where we came from. I was in a health food store in Nashville once, and Chet Atkins came over and said he really loved that song. That was a big moment," he recalls fondly.
Along with "Redneck Girl" from 1982, one of the group's most recognizable hits is the classic "If I Said You Had A Beautiful Body (Would You Hold It Against Me)." In the United States, the song is generally regarded as one of the greatest pick-up lines in country music history, but David says if you travel to another country, things could be very different.
"We still get people in our meet and greets who will ask us how we meant that song. We always reply, 'Whatever you want it to mean is what we meant.' We still love performing it. When we were in India, people came up to us and asked 'Are you going to do the 'first dance' song? We weren't sure what they were talking about, but it was 'Beautiful Body' because they use it as the first dance song at weddings. You never know how someone will interpret a song, I guess," he says with a smile.
At the end of the day, Bellamy says that it's all about giving the fans what they want -- which is a little bit of everything. "I like people thinking they can come to our show and have a good time. We have a new video called 'Boobs,' and we end the show with a gospel song. Someone asked me, 'Does it occur to you that you have both 'Boobs' and a gospel song on the same show? I said 'Of course, that's what we are.' We do a big range of things, and it all seems normal to us."