A few months ago I get a "Rockabilly Hall Of Fame" CD from Bob Timmers, curator of the Rockabilly Hall Of Fame. This compilation has many excellent tracks, but one song in particular really knocked me off my seat, "Pink & Black Days" by Narvel Felts. Next thing you know my kids get really into the record, so much so that Jeremy and David (ages 8 and 10), dressed up in pink and black Western clothing, create a short video where they karaoke to Narvel's song!!!
I wrote to the Rockabilly Mailing List and the Rockabilly Hall Of Fame mentioning the excitement that "Pink & Black Days" is generating here at Rancho Ronny and wondering what Narvel Felts is doing these days.
Next thing you know, Rodney Pyke, UK representative of The Rockabilly Hall Of Fame tells me that Narvel says hello, and is very pleased to hear this positive feedback about his song.
A few weeks later, April 9 to be precise, the first day of the Viva Las Vegas Rock'n'Roll Weekender, Gaby Maag of the German "Rockin' Fifties" magazine, Marc Bristol of "Blue Suede News", and Tex Aicardi of Rollin' Rock Suisse, were hanging around my office/recording studio when the phone rings: it was Narvel Felts!!
Wow!! Narvel remembered that Art Fein and I had interviewed him in July 1976 when he was headlining at the Hollywood Palladium. I had completely forgotten about that interview, and yet Narvel remembered many details!
Narvel Felts' version of Jackie Wilson's "Lonely Teardrops" was shooting up the charts and about to become the biggest selling Country & Western record of 1976!!
It's interesting, because when Garth Brooks pulled in 70,000 people to one of his concerts, the press wrote that he was the first Country act to draw these many people. In fact Narvel Felts on a Sunday afternoon in the summer of 1976 at Lambs Farm in Chicago drew over 70,000 people, and without the benefit of the multimillion dollar promotion benefiting Garth!
Narvel Felts' string of hits started in the 1950s and continued throughout the early 1990s with "Pink & Black Days" charting in Australia.
NARVEL to this day remains very popular with both Country and Rockabilly audiences: just a few weeks ago he headlined one night of a five day Country & Western Festival which attracted 75,000 people, or about 15,000 per night. And he is already booked at the big Rock'n'Roll Weekender at Hemsby next May.
After a few more telephone calls we set up a schedule for Narvel's Rollin' Rock recording session, the first day being August 19 at 10:30 in the morning. Big Al Ek of the ShuffleAires plays electric guitar, Jim Lovgren is on drums and Rob Edwards of the Ruffnecks slaps the standup bass.
After two days we've recorded 18 tracks including 4 slow-rock / R&B ballads, plus a mix of raving rockers, shuffles and mid-tempo swingers.
And, yes, that incredible voice I heard on "Pink & Black Days" still came thru to astonish us all here at Rollin' Rock: you could see it on the amazed faces of the musicians that this was an unique experience for them, when Narvel hit those searing high notes!!!
And speaking of his voice,
here are a few quotable quotes:
1974, Dolly Parton: " When I first heard that incredible voice coming out of my car radio I could'nt believe my ears. He's my favourite."
1988, Jerry Lee Lewis says: "Narvel is the greatest high singer in the world".
1990, Charlie Feathers says on the liner notes of his new Electra CD: "Narvel Felts is the greatest singer in the world, no doubt about it".
1992, George Albert, editor and chief of Cashbox: "I've never known a more talented person in the 50 years I've been in this business, and he's a nice guy to go with it".
What an experience this was, to be able to record such a legend, a very friendly person and a true Southern Gentleman.
Thanx again to the Rockabilly Hall Of Fame for helping make this project a reality!!
NARVEL FELTS AT ROLLIN' ROCK ... INDEED!!