Bruce Channel (pronounced Sha-NEL) only reached the top forty once in the United States, but it was with a mega-hit in the early 60's.
Bruce was born in Jacksonville, Texas in 1940. In his early teens he began performing at dances around his native Texas. He caught on with the Louisiana Hayride in 1958, a radio program that had helped to launch the career of Elvis Presley, among others.
In the Summer of 1961 he went into a recording studio in Fort Worth to record some songs that he had written. Almost as an afterthought he included a song called Hey! Baby. Another musician named Delbert McClinton plays the harmonica on this recording, and a very prominent harmonica it was.
In early 1962 the song caught on, and began to shoot up the record charts. It reached the number one position and stayed there for three weeks. Bruce Channel became a popular act. He began to tour, and his popularity caught on in England. It was while on one of these tours with a then little known group called the Beatles that Delbert McClinton ran into John Lennon. The two discussed playing the harmonica, which was a very curious musical instrument to Lennon. The Beatle procured a harmonica of his own and began to use it in his own group's recordings, on such records as Please, Please Me and Love Me Do.
Ironically, it was the Beatles who led the British Invasion of the mid-60's which swamped artists such as Bruce Channel. Bruce had a minor hit in 1964 with Going Back to Louisiana and in 1968 he had a worldwide hit with Keep On. He became a very popular act in England.
Channel returned to Fort Worth and left the music business for a while. In later years he turned his attentions to writing country songs. He moved to Nashville and wrote several songs that topped the country charts for artists such as T.G. Shepherd and Janie Frickie.
Bruce still lives in Nashville and continues to be active as a songwriter and occasional performer. He will always be remembered best for his enormous 1962 hit Hey! Baby.
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