Bob & Earl
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Bob & Earl
|Origin||Los Angeles, California, United States|
|Associated acts||The Hollywood Flames|
|Past members||Earl Nelson|
Bobby Byrd (aka Bobby Day)
Bobby Relf (aka Bobby Garrett and Bobby Valentino)
The original duo were Bobby Byrd (July 1, 1930 – July 27, 1990) and Earl Nelson (September 8, 1928 – July 12, 2008). They had both been members of The Hollywood Flames, a prolific doo-wop group in Los Angeles, California whose major hit was "Buzz-Buzz-Buzz" in 1958, on which Nelson sang lead.
By 1957, Byrd had started a parallel solo career, writing and recording for contractual reasons as Bobby Day. He wrote and recorded the original version of "Little Bitty Pretty One", and had a hit of his own with "Rockin' Robin" (1958). In 1957, Day/Byrd and Nelson began recording together as Bob & Earl, on the Class record label. However, these releases had relatively little success, and Day/Byrd restarted his solo career.
In 1962, Nelson then recruited a second "Bob", Bobby Relf (January 10, 1937 – November 20, 2007), who also used the stage names of Bobby Garrett and Bobby Valentino. Relf had already led several Los Angeles based acts in his career, including the Laurels, the Upfronts, and Valentino and the Lovers. The latter two groups also featured the then pianist and bass singer, Barry White.
This duo of Relf and Nelson recorded several singles for different labels, before "Harlem Shuffle" in 1963. The song was written by Relf and Nelson, arranged by Gene Page, and produced by Fred Smith. It was based on a number called "Slauson Shuffletime" (named after a boulevard in Los Angeles) by another Los Angeles singer, Round Robin. When released on the Marc label, "Harlem Shuffle" became a modest hit on the US Billboard R&B chart. However, its main success came as late as 1969, when it was re-released in the UK and became a Top Ten hit there. Reportedly, George Harrison called it his favorite record of all time.
In 1964, the duo signed to Loma Records. They recorded for the label but nor singles were released. By 1965, Nelson had achieved further success as a solo artist under the alias of Jackie Lee, with "The Duck", a hit dance record which reached No. 14 in the U.S. When "Harlem Shuffle" became successful on reissue, Nelson and Relf reunited as Bob & Earl to tour. The duo split up for the last time in the early 1970s. Relf composed the song "Bring Back My Yesterday", recorded by Barry White on his first 20th Century Records album, I've Got So Much To Give.
- Colin Larkin, ed. (1997). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music (Concise ed.). Virgin Books. p. 158. ISBN 1-85227-745-9.
- White, Barry. "Telephone interview with Larry Katz." June 1 or 2, 1995. The Katz Tapes. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
- Nelson, Valerie J. "'Harlem Shuffle' co-writer was part of the soul duo Bob & Earl." Los Angeles Times, July 25, 2008. Retrieved January 16, 2016.
- "The Times & The Sunday Times". The Times. August 27, 1979. Retrieved June 15, 2017.
- "Earl Nelson". Rockabillyeurope.com. Retrieved June 15, 2017.
- "Signings". Billboard: 10. November 7, 1964.
- "I've Got So Much to Give – Barry White | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved October 17, 2019.