Introduction to the Bell Notes
The Bell Notes were a 1950s-1960s American rock and roll band. Originating in Long Island, New York, they regularly gigged at clubs in The Bronx. They released their first single “I’ve Had It,” which would become a nationwide hit, making a dent on the Top 10 chart in 1959. But their subsequent singles didn’t chart as high as the previous one; two of them, “Old Spanish Town” and “Shortnin’ Bread,” made to the lower rungs of the Hot 100 chart. One of the bars the Bell Notes used to play at was owned by the father of Ray Tabano, who would be the guitarist of the rock band Aerosmith. Tabano and Aerosmith’s lead vocalist Steven Tyler were childhood friends, and together they covered “I’ve Had It.”
The Bell Notes’ early days
The Bell Notes were a short-lived American rock and roll band that made a fleeting appearance on the music scene during the late 1950s to early 1960s. They consisted of Carlo Bonura on vocals and saxophone, Ray Ceroni on vocals and guitar, Pete Kane on piano, Lenny Gimbalvo on bass and John Casey on drums.
The Bell Notes hailed from East Meadow area in Long Island, New York but they regularly gigged at a bar in Bronx, which was owned by the father of Ray Tabano. The Bell Notes may not be aware of it, but Tabano and his friend Steven Tyler admired the Bell Notes. The two teenagers would frequent at the bar and play between Bell Notes sets. Of course, Tabano and Tyler would form the would-be famous rock band Aerosmith.
“I’ve Had It” – The Bell Notes’ only major hit single
As Tabano and Tyler were inspired very much by the Bell Notes, they would also cover The Bell Notes’ impromptu act staple “I’ve Had It.” “I’ve Had It” was written by Bonura and Cenori, and was eventually released as a single when the Bell Notes were signed to Time label.
“I’ve Had It” appeared on the Billboard Hot 100 in January 1959, and soared to its peak position at #6 there. It also reached #19 ont the Billboard’s R&B singles chart. The single was produced by a man named Alan Fredericks, a radio disc jockey who discovered the Bell Notes.
Other singles, and later disbandment
The Bell Notes released four more successive singles, “Old Spanish Town,” “That’s Right,” “You’re a Big Girl Now,” and “White Buckskin Sneakers and Checkerboard Socks,” but only “Old Spanish Town” entered the Hot 100 at #76 in mid-1959.
In 1960 the Bell Notes moved to Autograph label and released “Little Girl in Blue” which vanished without a trace. Next the band switched to Madison Records where they issued two more singles “Shortnin’ Bread” and “Friendly Star;” the former song became their last charting single at #96 on the pop chart in 1960. The Bell Notes disbanded around 1962, after what seemed to be a promising beginning.
In 1964, The Bell Notes were among the 64 artists to appear in a series of Nu-Trading Rock n’ Roll Trading Card. But this fad didn’t last for quite long as much as baseball trading cards did.