The Bells were a late 60s to early 70s music era Canadian rock band formed in Montreal, Quebec, in 1965. The original lineup consisted of Cliff Edwards and wife Anne (nee Ralph), Anne’s brother Jackie Ralph, as well as Mickey Ottier and Doug Gravelle, calling themselves The Five Bells. The group achieved their first hit “Moody Manitoba Morning” in their native Canada, and later on Frank Mills replaced Ottier. Cliff’s wife Anne became pregnant in 1970, forcing her to leave the group which by now became The Bells. In 1971 the band broke into the US market with a minor hit “Fly Little White Dove Fly,” which was also the title track of their LP. The Bells achieved their biggest US hit with “Stay Awhile,” breaking into the Billboard Hot 100’s Top 10 later that year. However, the group’s success didn’t last, and after their two more albums Love, Luck and Lollipops and Side A, the Bells disbanded in 1973. Their final album Pisces Rising yielded Top 10 Canadian singles.
Early start in the music business
The five-piece Canadian rock band The Bells formed in 1965 in Montreal, Quebec. Initially, the lineup consisted of Cliff Edwards, Doug Gravel, Gordie McLeod and siblings Ann and Jackie Ralph, both natives from South Africa. They were once called as “The Five Bells” in early 1965. Two years after, Edwards and Anne Ralph got married. When Anne was pregnant with her and Edwards’ first child, she decided to leave the group and turn her focus to raising their family.
From The Five Bells to The Bells
As The Five Bells, they achieved their first hit in 1969 with “Moody Manitoba Morning.” The next year, the group changed their name to The Bells because of Ann’s departure. They were later signed to Polydor and released their debut single as The Bells called “Fly Little White Dove.” The song was unnoticeable, reaching #95 on the US Billboard Hot 100. After that they still went on to release more singles but all of them met the same fate as their first single.
However, The Bells’ fate changed their single, a rather sappy ballad titled “Stay Awhile” in early 1971. It became the band’s breakthrough hit, peaking at #7 on the Billboard pop chart. “Stay Awhile” went on to sell over one million copies and earn a gold disc later that year.
Edwards left The Bells in 1973, pursuing a solo career. Not long after the group disbanded as well. Also in that year, they released their final LP for Polydor called Pisces Rising, where, whose songs “The Singer,” “Hey My Love” and “He Was Me” managed to hit the Canadian chart.
With newer members Ralph recruited, The Bells continued to do shows occasionally. In 2014, a documentary film about The Bells’ career was released which and entitled Stay Awhile. It was directed by Jessica Edwards, daughter of Edwards and Anne Ralph.