Monday, March 18, 2024

3's A Crowd (Springfield)

Three's A Crowd from Springfield, Illinois recorded two singles between 1966 and 1968.  At the time of their first release, the trio had never performed in public together.

The group consisted of Roger Humphrey on bass and vocals, Bob Cellini on guitar and vocals and Mike Bertucci on drums.  

Humphrey, who was 37 at the time of the first single, had been a trombone player in Bill Cellini's orchestra (Bob's brother).  In the early 1960's, Bob Cellini led his own band, the HI FIs, before joining his brother's group.

Humphrey and Cellini began playing together for fun, working on original material.  By 1966 they were joined by Bertucci.

They recorded their first single, "Making Do" b/w "I Don't Mind At All" for Ro-Do Records.  Both songs were written by Humphrey.

The single was released in the spring of 1967.  Despite being virtually unknown in the Springfield area, the single did well on the local charts.

An article in the Illinois State Journal from May 29, 1967 mentions that the group had another song ready to go called "Run, Sheep, Run" and were hoping to cut an album.  

There is however no evidence that the group recorded an album or ever played live.

In 1968, they did record two of Cellini's originals at the Golden Voice Recording Co. in South Pekin, Illinois.  "Keep On Walking" b/w "No Where" was released on the Golden Voice label.   


Note:  Bob Cellini is the nephew of Al Cellini who was featured in our recent post about Space Records.

Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Dave Bell Trio on Space Records (Springfield)

Dave Bell Trio's 1952 single "I Dreamed Of A Lifetime" b/w "I'm All Wrapped Up In You" was written, recorded and released in Springfield, Illinois.  Initially, it was reported that it would also be the first record manufactured in Springfield at a brand new pressing plant.  However, that doesn't appear to have happened.

The 78 rpm record was officially released locally on September 25, 1952 by the newly-formed Space Records, a Springfield label started by two of the songwriters:  Fred Spagnoli & Al Cellini.

The label's name was a combination of the first few letters of their last names.   Its motto: There's Always Space For A "Space" Record. 

Both Cellini and Spagnoli were Springfield residents.  At the time, Cellini, 2031 N. Nineteenth St., was in the poultry business (Cellini Bros Poultry) and Spagnoli, 2224 S. Thirteenth St., was a salesman for the Eastern Packing Company.

Cellini was also a part-time musician and bandleader.  He played saxophone and clarinet and led various combos in the Springfield-area as far back as the mid-1940's (Venetian Serenaders, 4 Sharps and Al Cellini & His Rhythm Boys).

The music of "I'm All Wrapped Up In You" was written by Cellini with lyrics by Spagnoli.   "I Dreamed Of A Lifetime" was written by the pair along with Cecil Hassinger.   According to various newspaper advertisements, Hassinger had been a band leader in central Illinois in the late 1940's.  Hassinger also played guitar in one of his Cellini's bands.

Click image to listen

While this would be the first record on their label, it was not the first record that Cellini and Spagnoli had collaborated on as songwriters.  

Two year prior, they wrote "I Spoke Too Soon," which was recorded by the Lee Kelton Orchestra and released on Dix Records out of Pittsburg, PA.   It was also issued on the Rondo label.

To record their latest compositions, the two men worked with the Dave Bell Trio.  Bell and his band were a popular Midwest combo that played the Springfield clubs frequently in the early 1950s.  

In an advertisement from 1952, it mentions the group featured Art Williams on the drums and Charlie Straub on the piano.  Dave Bell is referred to as "Frankie Lane's protégé."

Several months before its official release, it was announced that the Space record would also have the unique distinction of being the first record pressed in Springfield by a new business, Independent Artists Recording Company.   

The business was founded by E.H. Overman and Bud Hashman, both from Springfield.  According to the Illinois State Journal, "both men were formerly in show business, as vaudeville artists.  Overman was 'hoofer' and Hashman a song and dance man."

By the time the two men joined forces, Hashman owned a jukebox business in Springfield while Overman was operating a makeshift recording studio out of his home.  

According to the April 4, 1952 newspaper article, "Since about 1937 Overman has been engaged in cutting records.  Hashman became associated with the enterprise last September.   The two men make 'cuttings' in their studio at 903 N. Seventh St., for independent artist throughout the middle west."

In early 1952, Hashman and Overman decided to expand on their recording operation and go into the production of records.  With little experience or instruction, the two men set out to build a pressing plant from scratch.  

The newspaper gives a detailed account of the various steps involved with record manufacturing.  It also laid out the struggles the two men had getting their operation off the ground.

"Handicapped by an almost total absence of printed technical instructions on the procedure they managed to secure a  hard to find, several years old, manual on the production method and went to work.  They worked out many 'bugs' an the procedure by their own ingenuity." 

Despite the claim, there is no evidence that Overman and Hashman's pressing plant ever became operational.  The Dave Bell Trio record was to be their first, however when the record was released in September an article in the Illinois State Journal mentions that the master discs were cut in Rock Island and the pressing was being done in Janesville, Wisconsin.

As for Independent Artists Recording Co., the only other reference found was a 1953 advertisement for the Bobby Lane "Special."   There is no evidence that any commercially available records were ever recorded or pressed in Springfield by the company.

Sadly, Elmer Overman and his wife were seriously injured in a 1956 explosion at their home, which was the same address as the studio.

As for the Dave Bell Trio, they recorded at least one other single, "Moneyback Guarantee" b/w "Rock 'N' Roll Pins," which was released in 1958 on Window Records out of Sheboygan, Wisconsin. 

Al Cellini appears to have gotten out of the record business but he continued to perform and lead his combo / orchestra in the Springfield area for several more decades.

Fred Spagnoli became the Lake Springfield chief of police by 1958 but hadn't given up on writing a hit song.  An article in the Illinois State Journal at the time mentions that five of his songs had been recorded.

It appears that Spagnoli and Cellini collaborated on at least one more song after the Space record.  In August 1954, both men are credited for "Dora," in the Catalog of Copyright Entries.   According to the listing it was likely released on Dix Records but the actual artist and record have not been identified.

A few months earlier, Spagnoli copyrighted, "Much To My Sorrow," with Ola Budde supplying the music.   Budde appears to have been from Springfield as well.  Again, the song was likely recorded and released on Dix Records but no more details are available at this time.

As for Space Records, the label's entire output consisted of just the one single: