Bruce Channel is an American rock n roll/pop/country/rockabilly singer-songwriter known for his #1 pop hit “Hey! Baby” during the early 60s music era. He is considered as a a one-hit wonder; nevertheless, he had several other minor Hot 100 hits such as “Number One Man” and “Come on Baby.” He is also an inductee to the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. More on Bruce Channel here in this biography!
Channel’s music career and only hit “Hey! Baby”
Bruce Channel (pronounced as “shə-nell” with the stress on the second syllable) was born Bruce McMeans in Jacksonville, Texas on November 28, 1940.
Channel worked on radio for sometime and then joined singer-songwriter/harmonica player Delbert McClinton, performing mostly country music.
He and songwriter Margaret Cobb wrote “Hey! Baby” sometime in 1959. For about two years, Channel performed the song at his live gigs before he had it recorded and released on the Fort Worth-based label LeCam, owned by Bill Smith. When “Hey! Baby” started to sell well, it was picked up for national distribution by Mercury Record’s subsidiary Smash Records. Released in January 1962, the song skyrocketed to #1 on the Billboard pop chart the following March. It sold over a million copies, thus becoming certified gold.
McClinton’s notable harmonica playing is quite prominent in the song. He later reprised his famous harmonica number in Channel’s own version of “Stand Up” in 1995 (the song was released on Ice House label, located in Memphis, Tennessee).
By the late 1970s Channel worked mostly as a songwriter in Nashville, Tennessee. In 2002 he teamed up with former Newbeats member Larry Henley for a musical project billed as Original Copy.
Channel has been inducted to the Rockabilly Hall of Fame and the Texas Heritage Songwriters Hall of Fame. He has been fairly active in the music scene up to the present.
During the peak of his career, Channel embarked on a European tour. At one of his gigs he was supported by the Beatles, who were still relative unknowns. Although a popular legend has claimed that John Lennon was taught by McClinton on how to play the harmonica, the fact is that Lennon had already been well-versed on the instrument by that time. Nevertheless, Lennon was captivated by McClinton’s harmonica as well as the way the latter played; in fact, the Beatles frontman had “Hey! Baby” on his famous Swiss KB Discomatic jukebox.
Although he is mostly remembered by the oldies music lovers as a “one-hit wonder” for his chart-topping hit “Hey! Baby” in 1962, Bruce Channel has actually placed six more charting singles throughout his career. All of them are placed on the US Billboard Hot 100, unless noted:
- “Number One” (1962) – #52
- “Come on Baby” (1962) – #98
- “Somewhere in This Town” (1962) – #117
- “Going Back to Louisiana” (1964) – #89
- “Mr. Bus Driver” (1967) – #90
- “Keep On” (1968) – #12 UK