Proudly Canadian: The Bells

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The story of the The Bells plays out like a who’s who in the beginning of the Canadian music scene. The Bells were a Canadian rock band formed in 1965 in Montreal, Quebec, originally starting out as The Five Bells. The Five Bells first hit in late 1968 was "Moody Manitoba Morning", written by Winnipeg Singer/Songwriter Rick Neufeld, who later be a recording artist in his own right, signed to the Astra Label by the legendary Bob Hahn. (father of industry icon Kathy Hahn). In 1970 after shortening their name their next hit was "Fly Little White Dove Fly", which became a Top 10 hit in Canada. Piano player Frank Mills joined The Bells for a short period from 1970 to 1971, after which he pursued a successful solo career, the highlight of which was the #3 1979 U.S. hit single "Music Box Dancer". Mills was replaced by piano player Dennis Will who remained with the band through to the end. Charlie Clark also joined the band in 1970 as a guitarist and vocalist.

"Fly Little White Dove Fly" was followed up in 1971 by "Stay Awhile", a duet featuring Jackie Ralph and Cliff Edwards. Written by Saint John native Ken Tobias, the song became a major hit worldwide, selling four million copies and going to #1 in Canada on the RPM 100 national Top Singles chart on April 10, 1971 and remaining there for two weeks as well becoming their only Top 40 hit in the U.S., reaching #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart  This disc sold over one million copies before the major U.S. radio stations played it, and received a gold disc awarded by the R.I.A.A. on 27 May 1971. The song features a whispered vocal by Jackie Ralph. The success led to invitations to perform on The Tonight Show in June 1971 and The Merv Griffin Show. In Australia, "Stay Awhile" reached #9. Ken Tobias, writer of ‘Stay Awhile’ also recorded the song and as well had a hit in 1969 with “You’re Not Even Going to the Fair’ and in 1972 hit the Top Ten with ‘Dream #2”. Tobias had a successful run with A&M records in the 1970’s and continues to record and release his music to this day.

The Bells broke up as Edwards departed out on a solo career in 1973. The Bells meanwhile had three Top Ten singles from their final album, Pisces Rising ("The Singer", "Hey My Love" and "He Was Me, He Was You") featuring a new rhythm section with Skip Layton on drums and Will (Wayne) Cardinal on bass. Layton and Cardinal were also members of Ocean in 1976 and Faro in the early 1970s.

It was an amazing time with so much cross talent in The Bells and their version “Stay Awhile’ continues to receive airplay to this day.

Stay Awhile The Bells