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Terry Fell
and The Fellers
Born:  May 13, 1921
Died:  April 4, 2007

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.

Promo Ad - Ventura, CA - Terry Fell - October 1955 Promo Ad - Oroville, CA - Terry Fell - October 1954

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:

  • I Love You Too Much To Leave You (co-writers: Jad Dees; Frankie Starr; Terry Fell)
  • There's A Gold Moon Shining (On A Blue, Blue Heart)
  • A Nickel For A Dozen Roses
  • I'm In Heaven
  • Don't Drop It
  • Truck Drivin' Man
  • He's In Love With You
  • Never
  • Mississippi River Shuffle
  • You Don't Give A Hang About Me
  • Fa-So-La
  • I Nearly Go Crazy Sometimes
  • Sandy
  • Tomorrow Land (co-writers: Terry Fell; Rose Maddox)
  • You're The Reason (co-writers: Mildred Imes; Fred Henley; Terry Fell)

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.

Terry Fell — Record Reviews From The Billboard
Date Label Rec No. Review
4/18/1953 Gilt-Edge 5084 Hillbilly Impersonations — An even dozen top folk artists are impersonated, some quite capably, in the course of this novelty effort. Side might earn juke coin and should provide some pleasant moments on deejay segs. (Rating: 70)

Smoking Cornsilks — Cute ditty has a few humorous moments as presented here. (Rating: 65)
5/1/1954 X 0010 Truck Driving Man — To a fast, driving beat, Fell tells the story of the "hero of the highway." The Material is off the beaten track and is set in a colorful, pleasingly tuneful arrangement which features some first-rate playing on harmonica, fiddle andbass. Good wax. (Rating: 75)

Don't Drop It — The singer caustions his girl to handle his heart gently. This is a gay tune, and Fell gives it a bright reading. (Rating: 74)
12/25/1954 X 0078 You Don't Give A Hang About Me — Fell sings up a storm on this cute-as-a-button piece of material. Jocks and ops could make use of it and Fell could get action with it. (Rating: 77)

Get Aboard My Wagon — A happy hunk of material and a fitting reading add up to some good wax by Fell. (Rating: 73)
7/9/1955 X 149 Fa-So-La — This happy bouncer is a Terry Fell original and it conveys a gay mood in this infectious reading. This could do a lot of business, earning plenty of juke box and retail loot. Watch it. (Rating: 80)

I'm Hot To Trot — Another strong etching, this rhythmic effort could do mighty well on its own. Together with the flip the disk shapes as a potent juke entry. (Rating: 78)
5/12/1956 RCA Victor 6515 Consolation Prize — Fell's weepy tones tell the tale of the heart that came out second best. Traditional country theme gets a sincere reading that definitely rates spins. (Rating: 78)

Wham! Bam! Hot Ziggity Zam — Here's a swingy tune with a rickey-tick touch. Sounds somewhat like Glenn Miller's "Wham Rebop Boom Bam" done in country style. A happy juke box entry. (Rating: 74)
8/25/1956 RCA Victor 6621 I Can Hear You Chuckin' — A highly amusing novelty in a slick styling by Fell. One of his strongest commercial entries in quite a while. (Rating: 81)

Don't Do It Joe — Fell packs sock emotional impact into this weeper as he pleads with the hubby of his (Fell's) ex-sweetie to stop slippin' around on her. (Rating: 77)

Promo Ad - Bakersfield, CA - Terry Fell - January 1955 Promo Ad - Lubbock, TX - Terry Fell - May 1956

Promo Ad - Label X - Terry Fell - Billboard - Feb 1955

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.

Credits & Sources

  • Hillbilly-Music.com would like to express its thanks to Ivan M. Tribe, author of Mountaineer Jamboree — Country Music in West Virginia and other books that can be found on Amazon.com and numerous articles in other publications for providing us with information about this artist.
  • Headin' Up; Bea Terry; March 1955; Country & Western Jamboree; Maher Publications; Chicago, IL
  • Biographies of the Stars - Terry Fell; January 1957; Country & Western Jamboree; Maher Publications; Chicago, IL
  • Music This Week; September 3, 1955; The Billboard; Cincinnati, OH

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Recordings (78rpm/45rpm)

 
4 Star
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  1160 A Paper Heart
  1160 B You Don't Want Me Anymore
  1161 A You Ran Around
  1161 B I've Done All I Know To Do
  1162 A You Are My Sunshine
  1162 B Will There Be A Light In Your Window
  1163 A Guess I'm Better Off Without You
  1163 B Rainbow At Midnight
  1206 A There's A Gold Moon Shining
  1206 B You're Not Wanted Here
  1211 A Napanee
  1211 B Little By Little
  1212 A Snow Deer
  1212 B Put Another In Your Heart
  1426 A Snow Dear
  1426 B With Another In Your Heart
 
Crest
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  1071 A Y?all Be Good Now
  1071 B Who?s Who
 
Fargo
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  1112 A Paper Heart
  1112 B You Don?t Want Me Anymore
 
Gilt-Edge
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  5071 A Dreamer?s Paradise
  5071 B Yesterday
  5076 A Fireball Boogie
  5076 B I Can Hear You Clucking
  5084 A Hillbilly Impersonations (Twelve Famous Singers)
  5084 B Smokin? Cornsilks
 
Lode
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  2001 A The Bears Are Taking Over Yellowstone (as Brother George Underbrush)
  2001 B All Penguins Aren?t Catholic (as Brother George Underbrush)
  2002 A Green Garden Hose Part 1 (as Brother George Underbrush)
  2002 B Green Garden Hose Part 2 (as Brother George Underbrush)
  2003 A Angel on a Cloud (as Brother George Underbrush)
  2003 B Sany (credited to Johnnie Valentine, who may or may not be Terry Fell)
  2004 A Child Bride (as Brother George Underbrush)
  2004 B Paper Kite (as Brother George Underbrush)
 
Memo
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  3001 A I?ve Done all I Know to Do
  3001 B You Ran Around
  3002 A Paper Heart
  3002 B You Don?t Want Me Anymore
  3003 A There?s a Gold Moon Shining
  3003 B You?re Not Wanted Here
 
RCA Victor
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  20-6256 A I Nearly Go Crazy
  20-6256 B That's What I Like
  20-6353 A That's The Way The Big Ball Bounces
  20-6353 B What Am I Worth?
  20-6444 A If I Didn't Have You
  20-6444 B Over And Over
  20-6515 A Consolation Prize
  20-6515 B Wham! Bam! Hot Ziggity Zam
  20-6621 A Don't Do It, Joe
  20-6621 B I Can Hear You Cluckin'
  20-6707 A Caveman
  20-6707 B Play The Music Louder
 
Scorpion
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  0508 A Big Truck Stop in the Sky
  0508 B Coffee Jim Trucker
 
Sims
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  192 A If I Could Learn To Love You Less
  192 B Music City U.S.A.
 
X
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  4X-0010 A Don't Drop It
  4X-0010 B Truck Driving Man
  4X-0069 A Let's Stay Together Till After Christmas
  4X-0069 B We Wanna See Santa Do The Mambo
  4X-0078 A Get Aboard My Wagon
  4X-0078 B You Don't Give A Hang
  4X-0114 A Mississippi River Shuffle
  4X-0114 B He's In Love With You
  4X-0149 A I'm Hot To Trot
  4X-0149 B Fa-So-La


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