It’s an often over used old cliche to say that someone is in the right place at the right time, but according to Howard Bellamy of the Bellamy Brothers, it’s true when it came to their biggest selling single Let Your Love Flow.
The brothers, guitarist Howard and keyboard player David were born in Darby, Florida in 1946 and 1950 respectively. David began writing songs and pitching them to various publishing companies. In late 1973, one of his songs, Spiders and Snakes, became a big hit for another Florida-born singer, Jim Stafford.
Phil Gernhard was Stafford’s producer and manager and liked Spiders and Snakes and was interested in developing David Bellamy as a singer and songwriter. Gernhard was already using Diamond’s travelling band for sessions as Diamond then toured infrequently. One of Neil Diamond’s roadies, Larry E. Williams had written a song, recorded a demo and offered it to Neil but he turned it down. Gernhard, his partner Toni Scotti and the band had to fly to Florida for the recording of a outdoor TV special in which Stafford was due to appear. Just as rehearsals were due to start, the weather turned bleak and Gernhard asked the roadie to quickly check the equipment so they could make the recording before the really bad weather started. That roadie was Howard Bellamy who was looking for a job, so Gernhard hired him.
After the recording had finished Gernhard and Scotti were talking when all of a sudden they heard singing coming from the stage which was still set up. They turned round and it was Howard singing Let Your Love Flow. They went into a studio in Florida to record the track, but the results were disappointing and the plan was temporarily shelved. Stafford was about to embark on a US tour, but once they returned things changed.
Howard explains how they got the song, “Neil’s drummer came over to our house and brought the demo of Let Your Love Flow and said, ‘Hey, this sounds like something you guys would do.’ Well, it really wasn’t in Neil Diamond’s vein. I would say the guy who wrote this song is the wealthiest roadie now that ever was. Actually, Johnny Rivers had passed on the song. It had been pitched to a few people. It was recorded once by a guy named Gene Cotton; he recorded a kind of unusual version. But when we heard it we had an idea of how we wanted to record it because it kind of fit our style, acoustic bass with a groove, and I think that has a lot to do with it. You’ve got to really match songs with artists, and I think it was the perfect song for us, a great match. So we went off to record that, and the rest is kind of history. It became not only the largest song of that year, it’s become somewhere in the area of one of the largest songs ever, as far as being played. And it’s become a standard, basically. I wish another one of those would come along.”
The band went into the studio and they spent a few sessions recording Let Your Love Flow. The song was rush-released and went to number one in America and number seven in the UK when eventually released in the early summer of 1976 when it was released to tie-in with a European tour. Fortunately the song was never off the airwaves. The Boys even received letters from various church organisations praising them for their music and its religious connotations.
In Germany the song spent five weeks at number one and was knocked off by Ein Bett im Kornfeld which was a German language version of the same song by Jurgen Drews and that stayed there for a further six weeks. In the UK, the song returned to the chart in 2008 where it peaked at number 21 after its inclusion in a Barclaycard TV commercial. The advertising agents obviously love the song because in 2010 A cover by Petra Haden was used in a Toyota Prius commercial.
David Bellamy stated in an interview with People magazine that the song wasn’t really beneficial to them, “Right after it was a hit, we hit rock bottom because we lost control. We had people working for us that we didn’t know and managers who wouldn’t let us do our own music.” Howard added, “There were so many fingers in the pie that there was no pie left. We ended up in debt after that song.”
In 1978, after the European tour, they returned to their native Florida. Once there they hired some local musicians and recorded some new songs one of which included the song that topped the America country chart and gave them their biggest UK hit, If I Said you Had A Beautiful Body Would You Hold It Against Me.
In June 2010 the brothers recorded a song called Jalepenos which was on the subject of political correctness, but US radio refuse to play it because of its blasphemous content. That wouldn’t of helped their career either!