|Vinnie Bell in the studio|
|Vinnie at age 15|
Vinnie was said to be a member of a group called The Ramrods, who had a hit recording of Ghost Riders In The Sky. In 1961 this recording charted at number 10 on the UK charts and number 40 on the US Billboard chart.
He was also a member of a band called The Gallahads, and another group called The Three Suns, when he replaced the original guitarist.
|Vinnie Bell with durmmer Hal Blaine|
|Ampeg Gemini II amp with key|
Manhattan Guitar Club
Vinnie Bell was a member of The Manhattan Guitar Club. This was an organization of over 50 studio top studio musicians that paid a fee to use an amplifier that could only be turned on with a key which was kept at the studios exclusively for the members.
The Ampeg Amplifier Company contracted with New York City studios to place their amplifiers in each studio for the benefit of the membership. The NYC Musician’s Union required it’s members to pay a cartage company to haul their equipment to studios and gigs. Maintaining an amp at the studio was a way for the guitar and electric bass players to get around paying someone to haul some of their equipment.
|Vinnie Bells' effects unit|
Throughout his career Vinnie invented many of his own effects, such as a device to get the “watery” guitar sound that is heard on the theme to “Midnight Cowboy” on Ferrante and Teicher's version. He created this by linking multiple Danelectro reverb units together.
|Vinnie Bells LP featuring his effects|
Bell played a bass guitar solo that was fed through his pedal board tremolo for the music to the television series, “Twin Peaks”. That is his electric guitar you hear on Simon and Garfunkle's "Sounds of Silence".
|Vinnie Bell with friends|
|Vinnie backing up Perry Como|
Any fans of The Family Guy, will know the theme song. Vinnie Bell played guitar for that session.
|Bob Crewe recording session |
with The Four Seasons
In his own words, Vinnie was recording the song, "Big Girls Don't Cry" for The Four Seasons when Bob Crewe, the producer, said they needed more of a beat. He asked the session musicians to drop their pants, slap their thighs, and stomp their feet in time to the music. He did it and it is one of the best selling songs ever.
When recording with Frank Zappa, he was the only musician in the room wearing a shirt. Zappa asked him to take off his shirt, which he did.
|8 Year old Edward Bell showing up|
at a recording session
to sub for his father
|Vinnie Bell in Frank Sinatra's band|
Here is a link to some of the hit recordings that Bell's guitar is heard. Here is another one for the hundreds of jingles that featured his guitar work. If you lived in the 1960's and '70's, then you could not turn the radio on without hearing Vinnie Bell's guitar.
Vinnie Bell was a first call session player in both New York City Studios and Los Angeles studios.
|Nathan Daniel with early Danelectro Guitar|
After that Vinnie was a regular visitor to the Danelectro factory in Neptune, New Jersey. Conversely Daniels, and his family were frequent guests to the Gambella home where they feasted on homemade Italian dinners.
Their very first collaboration was in 1953 on an electric organ that reproduced true tones of many instruments in analog fashion. This foreshadowed the development of synthesizers by many years. It was never put into production.
Bell had some ideas and Daniel was the go to guy to build them. In 1961 the men collaborated on a 12 string electric guitar called The Bellzouki. The body was a tear drop shaped flat piece of wood, similar to the shape of a Greek Bouzouki. Unlike the Bouzouki which has either six string paired in three courses, or eight strings paired into four courses. It has a long neck with 27 frets, and is tuned to low D high D-AA-DD or low C high C-FF-AA-DD.
|Vinnie Bell with his Bellzouki|
The body was topped with one of Nat Daniel’s unique “lipstick tube” single coil pickups, and had controls for volume and tone. It also had a typical Danelectro style bridge-tailpiece. The neck was topped with a metal nut and a V-shaped headstock.
Bell used this instrument on many recordings, including his self title LP called "The Best of Vinnie Bell". Danelectro further developed three versions of The Bellzouki.
|Three versions of The Bellzouki|
Throughout the years, there were three versions of the Bellzouki.
|Coral Electric Sitar|
Vinnie Bell used this instrument on the Lemon Pipers song “Green Tambourine”. Coral/Danelectro produced a version called The Baby Sitar, that was in a different shape, had only one pickup, and did not have the drone strings. The Coral electric sitar can be heard on many other songs, including the B.J. Thomas hit, "Hooked On A Feeling", Freda Payne's "Band of Gold", Redbone's "Come And Get Your Love", and The Stylistics hit song, "You Make Me Feel Brand New". Vinnie also was featured on his own album simply called "Electric Sitar".
Vinnie Bell created several other instruments for Danelectro/Coral. One of these was an affordable electric guitar called The Coral Hornet. I think the reason for the Coral name is that the instrument bodies for Coral products were manufactured in Japan.
|1967 Coral Firefly|
|Vinnie Bell on Wedding Day|
I am told that Vinnie was a great guy, and fun to be with if you were his friend. And he was a terrific guitar player. He loved to entertain at his New Jersey home. He will be missed.