One-hit wonder Dick Flood and his song “The Three Bells”

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Introduction to Dick Flood

Dick Flood is an American pop and country singer-songwriter who joined the ranks of one-hit wonders through his hit single “The Three Bells” in the late 1950s. He previously teamed with Billy Graves on Jimmy Dean’s TV show on CBS in the mid-1950s. Flood’s version of the French original song (translated into English of course) was released on Monument label. It hit the Top 40 in 1959, but was outsold by a rival cover from the country trio The Browns in that same year. Flood also wrote material for other singers such as the 1962 country hit “Troubles’ Back In Town” by the Wilburn Brothers.

Early life and career

Dick Flood is an American pop singer-songwriter. He was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on November 13, 1932.

He first got the music bug from the mountains of Pennsylvania where he played at a YMCA summer camp. He was a camp counselor who would practice singing and playing guitar in the woods, often in front of his fellow counselors. His earliest influences included Hank Williams, Hank Snow, Carl Smith, and Kitty Wells.

Later on, Flood was drafted into the army and was stationed in the Korea and then the Philippines, where he formed a group and played at military clubs.

After his army stint, Flood went home to Philadelphia and continued his musical pursuits. He played for another band The Four Denims but things did not click as they hoped. He left the band after a year or so.

Flood’s stint in “The Jimmy Dean Show

Flood met his former Army fellow Billy Graves. Together they formed a duo called The Country Lads. In 1956 a break came when they were invited to be regulars on the CBS TV program The Jimmy Dean Show, which became popular. This really helped the Country Lads to secure a recording contract from Columbia Records, where they released their two singles “Alone in Love” and “I Won’t Beg Your Pardon” in 1957.

But after three years, the show was axed off the air, and The Country Lads inevitably split. However, Flood and Graves remained friends with each other.

Flood met his former Army fellow Billy Graves. Together they formed a duo called The Country Lads. In 1956 a break came when they were invited to be regulars on the CBS TV program The Jimmy Dean Show, which became popular. This really helped the Country Lads to secure a recording contract from Columbia Records, where they released their two singles “Alone in Love” and “I Won’t Beg Your Pardon” in 1957.

But after three years, the show was axed off the air, and The Country Lads inevitably split. However, Flood and Graves remained friends with each other.

Flood’s  tenure at Monument Records, and his only hit “The Three Bells”

Flood had begun to have success with his songwriting. He had made friends with Fred Foster who was the owner of Monument Records. The label actually had its roster of artists who had recorded Flood’s tunes, including Roy Orbison, Billy Grammar, Kathy Linden as well as Flood’s friend Graves. In fact, Flood was one of the investors of Monument, further enjoying a percentage from the label.

Because of the success he had been getting, it seems that Flood had found his true calling as a songwriter so he focused much of his time and energy on that. Among the songs he wrote were “Cold, Cold Winter” (Anita Bryant), “Gee” (George Hamilton IV) and “Trouble’s Back in Town” (The Wilburn Brothers).

Unfortunately, we cannot find a video that featured Dick Flood’s only major hit “The Three Bells”

However, Flood hadn’t forgotten his passion for performing. So he had begun to record songs for Monument. One of these was “The Three Bells (The Jimmy Brown Song),” which was not written by Flood. Actually, “The Three Bells” was adapated from the original French-language song “Les trois cloiches” by Jean Villard Gilles and Marc Herrand. The English version, “The Three Bells” that is, was written by Bert Reisfeld.

Flood released his own version of “The Three Bells” almost after a month when the prior recording of it by a vocal group The Browns came out. Flood’s version of “The Three Bells” eventually peaked at #23 on the Billboard pop charts in 1959. Flood’s version was also released in the UK but failed to chart over there because of the Browns’ version, as well as a re-issue of the US 1954 hit by the French vocal group Les Compagnons de la chanson, which both charted on the UK Top 30.

Later Career

Flood’s version of “The Three Bells” would prove to be his only major hit, however. His career as asinger proved to be fleeting, but Flood saw it as no big deal because he really wanted to be a songwriter, first and foremost.

He sold his interest in Monument Records and moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where he continued to perform. He was even invited to perform at the Grand Ole Opry.

Flood also recorded for Columbia Records, and released “Hell Bound Train” in 1961. However, despite the major distribution, it was banned from being played on air because of the “shocking” lyrics (by 1960s moral standards by the way)

His other singles “King or a Clown” and “Another Stretch of the Track” were released in the 1960s. He also released records for Kapp label, including his own version of “Trouble’s Back in Town.” Flood eventually went on to form his own label Totem Records, which was short-lived. He continued to record a very few songs on small labels such as Nasco Records and Nugget Records.

Flood continued to perform live mostly for the military bases in many parts of the world. Presently, he resides into the Great Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia, and still continues to play live now and then under the stage name of Okenfenokee Joe.

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