About The Artist
Terry Fell was both a recording artist and songwriter of some note. An Alabama native who first embarked on a part-time musical career in his late teens made notable recordings on such labels as Four Star, X, and RCA Victor as well as smaller labels. He displayed some clever humor in his choice of both original lyrics and those of other composers that he chose to preserve on disc. In the final analysis, however, his main claim to fame derives from his authorship of the classic song "Truck Driving Man."
Born in Dora, Alabama and reared on a "farm about half-way between Jasper and Cullman," Fell traded a pet woodchuck for a guitar at age nine and after about three years found someone who could teach him a few chords. His father died about 1934 and at sixteen he decided to ride his bike to California. This did not work so well, so he sold the bicycle for $15.00 and gave it to a friend who was going to the Golden State in exchange for letting him ride along.
After varied experiences in California, including a stint in the Civilian Conservation Corps, Fell landed a full-time job as a press man at the Tru-Flex tire manufacturing plant. However, with the large migration of folks into California from Oklahoma, Texas, and other southern locales, there were numerous opportunities playing music on the side. Terry worked weekend jobs with both Merle Lindsay's Oklahoma Night Riders and Billy Hughes & the Pals of the Pecos. He made his initial recordings with Hughes' Fargo label which were leased to Memo.
One song titled "Paper Heart" he recalled as doing pretty well. This eventually led to a contract with Four Star, the upcoming independent label owned by the controversial Bill McCall. Somewhat surprisingly, Fell got along with the controversial McCall better than most of his contractees. His work with Four Star extended from 1947 into the early 1950s.
As a songwriter, Terry had his songs placed with Sylvester Cross at American Music, including a number titled "Never" which did quite well for Wesley Tuttle on Capitol and was also covered by Red Foley on Decca.
This led to Fell securing a contract with RCA Victor although most of his first sides came out on their subsidiary label "X" including his only real hit "Don't Drop It," which came out as the flip side of "Truck Driving Man," the song which attained classic status. As Terry later recalled, he wrote "Truck Driving Man" during a couple of work breaks at the tire plant, taking a total of about fifteen minutes.
Other songs that were credited to Terry Fell as seen in country music publications were:
While the records were credited to "Terry Fell and the Fellers," they were not a band in any sense of the term, but regular studio musicians, sometimes in California. From mid-1955 when RCA discontinued, the X label, his further efforts through 1956 were on the RCA Victor label.
In September 1955, Billboard reported that label "X" was leaving the country music field 'temporarily.' As a result, Terry Fell moved over to the parent label, RCA Victor.
After 1962, Fell did not tour much but did make a record now and then. He worked for American Music as their Nashville representative for a time, had his own publishing company, and worked for Mary Reeves, Jim's widow.
He continued to write songs. Under the pseudonym "Brother George Underbrush" he did some songs for Lode, probably all humorous such as the one titled "All Penguins Aren't Catholic." His biggest songwriting success was a number in which he frankly admits he never wrote a word. Singer Bobby Edwards gave him one-fourth credit on a pop number "You're the Reason" on which Terry arranged and engineered. Terry Fell's own final record was a single on Scorpion, "Big Truck Stop in the Sky"/"Coffee Jim Trucker." By 1993 when Bear Family re-issued his X and RCA numbers on a compact disc, he lived in modest retirement, a circumstance that continued for another decade and more.
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