The Short Music Career of Bell and James

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Introduction to Bell & James

Bell and James were an American duo hailing form Philadelphia, Pennsylvannia.  LeRoy Bell and Casey James had worked together previously as songwriters and also as both members of Special Blend before they got together as a duo.  They were signed to A&M Records to record a full album in 1978.  In their entire short career (that lasted until 1981) Bell and James recorded three albums, and released three singles.  Their biggest hit was “Livin’ it Up (Friday Night)”, which was a big hit in both pop and R&B charts.  They are now included in a sea of “one hit wonder” artists.

The life and music of Bell and James

Known mainly for their hit in the 70s music era “Livin’ it Up (Friday Night),” Bell and James was an American soul group formed in 1978 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The duo comprised of LeRoy Bell (born August 8, 1951) on guitar and drums and Casey James on guitar, bass and keyboards.

Before performing as a duo, Bell and Casey were together in a band called Special Blend. They later left the group and started writing songs as a team. With the help of Bell’s uncle Thom Bell, Bell and James subsequently signed to Gamble & Huffs, writing songs for Philadelphia International Records. On that label they penned songs for numerous artists like MFSB, The O’Jays, Freda Payne, Phyllis Hyman, Gladys Knight & the Pips, The Three Degrees and Elton John.

Bell and James’ quick recording journey

Signing as recording artists for A&M Records in 1978, Bell & James gained commercial success with their debut single “Livin it Up (Friday Night)” later that year. The song made a significant impression on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #15 in 1979. It also made on the UK chart at #59. After that, they had never released any records which led Bell and James to become a one hit wonder act that only die-hard oldies music fans will surely remember.

Along with their successful single “Livin It Up,” Bell & James released their self-titled debut album which peaked at #31 in the Billboard 200. Meanwhile, the follow-up single “You Never Know What You’ve Got” made it to Billboard’s Hot Soul Singles chart, reaching #54 and gracing the charts for 8 weeks.

In 1979, the dynamic duo released their second album “Only Make Believe” and were rewarded with modest success, reaching #125 on Billboard 200 and peaked #36 on Billboard’s R&B Albums list.

The single “Shakedown” entered the Hot Soul Singles chart, reaching as high as #65 before fading out after only five weeks. The title song from the said album later peaked at $50 in the Hot Soul Singles chart, and stayed for another 11 weeks.

Bell & James continued recording, and released their last album, “In Black and White,” in 1981. The duo disbanded not long after.

Casey James went on to lend his talents in the studio for some of music’s biggest names—including jazz legend Chuck Mangione and soulful diva Phyllis Hyman.

LeRoy Bell is still rocking out to new audiences with his band and even appeared on the U.S. version of “The X-Factor”. His dynamic musical act “LeRoy Bell and His Only Friends,” which includes Terry Morgan on bass and Davis Martin on drums.

Bell & James discography (may be partial)

A&M Forget Me Nots Records

(1978)

  • A: Livin’ It Up (Friday Night)
  • B: You Never Know What You’ve Got

(Jul 1978)

  • A: Livin’ It Up (Friday Night) [Mono]
  • B: Livin’ It Up (Friday Night) [Stereo] 

(Jul 1978)

  • A: Livin’ It Up (Friday Night)
  • B: Don’t Let The Man Get You

(May 1979)

  • A: You Never Know What You’ve Got
  • B: Just Can’t Get Enough (Of Your Love)
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