After 25 years, 26 top-10 singles, and countless performances in venues from Texas to Germany to New Caledonia, no one could fault the Bellamy Brothers if they decided to kick back on their Florida ranch. However, Howard and David Bellamy have other ideas.
The duo will celebrate a quarter of a century in the music business this year with two new CDs, a Great American Country (GAC) TV special, and a new affiliation with Nashville-based DeltaDisc Records, which will distribute their Bellamy Brothers Records.
“There was a bunch of different people talking to us,” says David.
“But no one put their money where their mouth was like DeltaDisc,” finishes Howard. “They made us the best deal.”
Having launched Bellamy Brothers Records in 1992, Howard and David were the front-runners in the trend toward artist-owned labels that now counts Charlie Daniels’ Blue Hat label, Kenny Rogers’ Dreamcatcher, and the multi-artist-owned Dead Reckoning Records, among others.
During the past decade, the Bellamys have forged distribution/marketing partnerships with other labels, first with Intersound, and most recently with Blue Hat, which handled the release of their last project, “Lonely Planet.” The brothers say the split from Blue Hat was amicable.
They opted to go with DeltaDisc because they’d previously worked with Ken Woods, the label’s newly named director of sales and distribution, and they liked label founder/ president Frederick Clark.
The initial project released under the new agreement is “The Bellamy Brothers 25 Year Collection.” The first CD will be released April 3, with a second volume to follow in late August. Each CD will contain 20 cuts, among them two new songs and three live recordings of previous hits. Of the four new songs on these anniversary CDs, David wrote two, one is a Randy Newman song, “Big Hat, No Cattle,” and the first single, “What’ll I Do,” was written by George Terry, a veteran writer/musician whose songwriting credits include the Eric Clapton hit “Lay Down Sally.” Terry also co-produced the four new tracks with the Bellamys.
The set opens with “Let Your Love Flow,” a song that became a multi-format hit for the duo in the spring of 1976 and is still one of the most-played classics on both country and rock stations.
Each CD will feature a 12-page booklet filled with photos chronicling the Bellamys’ career. “The photos are us when we were kids, us in the early days, and us traveling,” says David. “There’s a picture of us chasing camels in the desert in Saudi Arabia and posing with Robin Hood’s statue in Nottingham [England], all these goofy things. We didn’t put much bio in them, mostly photos. I thought it was a lot more interesting than re-hashing the bio again. We also have charts in there from Germany where we were No. 1 and [Paul] McCartney was No. 2. We’re proud of that.”
The Bellamys opted to release the two CD collections separately to make them more affordable to fans. “It’s a pricing thing,” Howard says. “To do the double, you have to charge so much more. This gives people a choice. You can price them the same as other CDs.”
“And we wanted it to be in the rack with regular CDs. We didn’t want it to go in boxed sets,” adds David. “We still have our name and a rack space in most country sections. We wanted it to be something you could put in that space and people could find. We also thought if we did two volumes in one year, it will give us the whole year to celebrate the 25-year thing. Then at the end of all this, we can take the two CDs, slide them into a sleeve, and it can be a boxed set if we want it to.”
In addition to the new 25th anniversary CDs, the Bellamys are licensing 15 albums in their catalog to DeltaDisc. “It wasn’t just a matter of making a deal for the 25-year thing,” David says. “We were trying to make a home for the whole catalog.”
The Bellamys continue to tour extensively in the U.S. and in Europe. “One of the things that has kept us alive is that we are fortunate enough to have a world market,” says David.
Howard says the key to success abroad is touring. “Most acts have approached the international market by [doing] one- or two-date festivals,” he says. “We do three- to four-week tours, and we’ve done it for 25 years. We have worked that market for so long. It’s not like it just fell into our laps.”
The Bellamys will be touring stateside this spring before going to Europe again in the summer. They are in discussions with CMT about taping a July 4 TV special, perhaps from Bosnia. Closer to home, they will travel to Colorado to tape a 25th anniversary special for GAC Feb. 21. They’ll also be filming a video for “What’ll I Do,” the song that will be released as a single to country radio March 12.