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Monthly Archives: August 2017

Archie Bell to Tighten Up Tejano SOUL Cruise

Archie Bell to Tighten Up Tejano SOUL Cruise
By Ramón Hernández
Archie Lee Bell says, “ ‘There’s Gonna Be a Showdown’ on the Carnival Valor cruise ship that sails out of Galveston on Monday, November 13.
“We’re going to ‘Tighten Up.’ ‘Everybody’s gonna have a good time. So ‘Let’s Groove’ together by signing up for this cruise.”

Who’s not familiar with all those Archie Bell and the Drells hits? If you need to refresh your memory just check out the following links:,,, and
For those who question why Archie Bell is headlining a Tejano soul gig, brace yourselves for this writer’s new revelations. Did you know of his connection to the Tejano industry and that he is Hispanic.
“To be specific, I am part Mexican, native American, and Chinese on my paternal great grandmother’s side,” Archie revealed during a telephone interview.
He had shared that information with me backstage at last year’s Patio Andaluz Reunion. He gave me his telephone numbers, but I had not had the time to follow up on getting all the details until a few days ago.
As for Archie’s connection to Tejano music, he said, “It all came about when Sunny Ozuna of the Sunliners was doing the radio promotion for his follow up hit to ‘Talk to Me’ and he went to see Skipper Lee Frazier (aka Mountain of Soul) at KCOH.”
In a nutshell, Frazier, who was also Archie’s manager, told Sunny, “I’ll play your record ‘if’ you take Archie on tour with you as an opening act.” This was about the time that Archie had written and recorded a very Chicano lowrider sounding tune titled “She’s My Woman, She’s My Girl” (Ovide 222),
“The end result is that I did the Tejano music circuit all over Texas with Sunny. And that included towns such as Seguin, San Marcos and Corpus Christi; so I’ve very familiar with Tejano music. In fact, if you listen closely to ‘Tighten up,’ you’ll hear a Tejano groove, a zydeco groove and even a country groove in there,” Archie continued. “I also recorded and included one of Sunny’s songs on the ‘Tighten Up’ album.” Listen to it at
“That’s right,” Sunny affirmed. “He wanted one of my songs and I gave him ‘Give Me Time’ (KeyLoc KL-1007). He toured with me pretty close to a year. It really helped our guys at the Municipal Auditorium and other venues. Then he made it, and before I knew it, he was opening for James Brown in Atlanta (Georgia).”
Another little known fact is that the Drells at one time included two well-known Tejano musicians. They were Abel Salazar on keyboards and Lonnie LaLanne on trumpet.
Going back to Frazier, this radio icon, television personality, record producer-record label owner (Ovide Records), music promoter and movie actor (“Reborn”) is also the author of “Tighten Up … The Making of a Million Selling hit.” On a sad note, the radio icon died on Friday, October 14, 2016.
Another connection is that Sunny’s producer, Huey Meaux, recommended “Tighten Up” to Atlantic Records, who took his advice and sold more than three million copies, holding both the number one R&B and the ‘number one’ pop spot for two weeks on Billboard’s charts in spring 1968. And it was even released in Spain as “Aprieta.”
As for the name of these the four vocalists – Bell, James Wise, Willie Pernell and Billy Butler – the then E.O. Smith Junior High School classmates wanted to go with something like The Dells because it rhythmed with Bell. “However, that name was taken so E.C. Watson, a buddy of mine inserted an ‘r’ and came up with the Drells,” Archie said giving credit where credit is due.
Thus you now know that Drell is an offshoot of Bell.
“It’s not a recognized word. You won’t find a definition for it, but we coined it; so we came up with our own definition –a drell is a gentleman and the ultimate entertainer.” However, Rocktober magazine reporter James Potter wrote that Drell also meant “a singin’ and dancin’ mother@#ker!” And you’ll understand why when you see the videos.
For the story of Archie Bell and the Drells, one can go to his website, Readers and also google them and find several links and with that in mind, I will stick to my finding, which you won’t find on the World Wide Web.
The only thing I will add is Archie’s regret on losing out on countless gigs because “Tighten Up” was released after he had joined the U.S. Army.
“I was making $135 a month with Uncle Sam when I could have been making $100,000 a night.”
The revelations continue …
Last year, I was taken aback when I saw Archie wearing a cowboy hat, especially after seeing him sporting a large round afro and wearing outlandish, colorful disco outfits. So what gives?
“The truth is that my father, Langston Bell, had a 1944 Ford and back them all they played on the radio was country and western music, so I grew up on all the Hank’s and Bob Wills music,” Archie continued.
“I’m also into what’s known as Carolina beach music. In fact, it really big all over the east coast from Florida on up to Virginia. Some of it has a blues shuffle (rhythmic structure) and the style of dancing it is the Carolina shag. It’s something similar to the Texas country two-step.”
I found this eye-opening information intriguing and after some researching it, I found out Carolina beach music was instrumental in bringing about wider acceptance of R&B music among the white population nationwide. Thus it was a contributory factor in both the birth of rock and roll and the later development of soul music as a subgenre of R&B.
Asked how he was exposed to this music genre, the 5-foot-9 ½ inch tall singer-songwriter said, “My wife’s from North Carolina.
As a solo artist Archie recorded a blues album, plus after professing a love for country music, a few C&W tunes. One of those tunes was “Warm Red Wine,” which is included with songs in a compilation also featuring Glen Campbell, Tanya Tucker and Roy Clark.
“In fact I’m presently working on some recordings with Mickey Gilley and Roy Head.”
So there you have it, a few exclusive never-before known facts on the extremely musical versatile Archie Bell.
Best of all, readers will not only have the opportunity to see him perform in an intimate setting, but hang out with him in the ship and ports of call during the November Tejano Soul Cruise.
Other artists scheduled to perform are Jimmy Edward, Joe Jama, Augustine Ramírez, Ram Herrera, Hugo Guerrero, Chris Q, Stephanie Lynn, Tracy Pérez, and Candace Vargas. Also MC2, the Mambo Jazz Kings, Los Hermanos – all under the musical direction of Wild Bill Perkins with the musical backing of Houston’s Robert Dorantes’ Avizo Band.
For more information on the five-day cruise making port stops in Cozumel and Progresso, Yucatan, Mexico, go to

La Ley de Tejas to Lay Down the Law during Cruise

                                                                La Ley de Tejas to Lay Down the Law during Cruise
                                                                                           By Ramón Hernández
Augustine Ramírez aka La Ley de Tejano is ready to play sheriff during the November Soul Cruise.

“That’s right, I’m going to lay down the law,” the Grammy Award winner said.
“And the law is, for everybody to have a good time, to get down and have fun! I know I plan to have fun.”
In view of this being Augustine’s first time at sea, when asked what he looks to in regard to the cruise, he said, “I think I need one, really, because I need to take a break and just enjoy the experience. I’m excited about this new adventure. I want to savor it all; frog legs, escargot, and you name it.
“A lot of my friends will be on this cruise, so I look forward to spending time with them and also make new friends.
“I’m not going to lock myself in my cabin and order my meals because I intend to make myself accessible to the fans. Esa es la ley, that’s the law.”
Although Augustine is a genuine living Tejano music legend, the following mini bio is provided so our younger readers can learn a little bit of his musical history.
As most Chicanos during the rocking 1950s, Augustine joined Los Jesters in 1957. A year later, he became the lead singer for Los Dominos, another rock’n’roll band.
Next came stints singing harmony, and as a guitar player with Los Latinos de Fred Salas plus the Roy Montelongo Orchestra.
“I knew all of Isidro López’s songs, so when Fred would take a break, he would let me sing a couple of tunes. After getting the experience of three bands under his belt, he formed his own orchestra and recorded his first album with Disco Grande in 1962.
“I was lucky in that I was at the right place at the right time when Fred (Salas) asked me to sit in with during a gig at the Manhattan Club in Dallas,” Guti, as he is also known continued.
“The venue is where El Zarape Records owner, Johnny González, and Capri Records owners, Luther and Vivian de la Garza would hold their dances.
“When Fred took a break and I sang a couple of songs, Johnny heard me. He liked what he heard and offered me a contract with his label. What I didn’t know is that Little Joe’s contract was about to expire and he was looking for a replacement. Then he asked (Little) Joe to take me on tour as his opening act. What a break. What luck!”
Long story short, Ramírez considers “El Barco Chiquito,” which went Gold, as the song that opened the doors for him as a solo act.
Although “Aquella Noche,” “El Gusto es Suyo,” “Damelo” and other productions made Billboard’s “Hot Latin LPs” charts, the Lockhart, Texas-native considers “Tres Ramitas,” “Paloma Dejame Hir” and “Sangre de Indio,” to be his fan’s favorite tunes.
As for his moniker, the Tejano Music Hall of Fame inductee said, “It was Chicago’s famous Zunigas that baptized me with that name, ‘La Ley de Tejas,’ back in the ‘60s.”
Ramírez, who has received the “Keys to the City of Beeville” and was honored with a Proclamation of “Augustine Ramírez Day” in Lockhart, continues to perform all over the Southwest, plus as far as Wyoming plus Kansas and the Tri-State area of Illinois, Indiana and Ohio.
One of the latest honors bestowed on Guti is the inclusion of a leopold-print vest he wore on a 1960s poster and later CD in the “Legends of Tejano Music” exhibit at the Wittliff Collections located in the seventh floor of the Albert B. Alkek Library at Texas State University.
The exhibit includes stage outfits and personal items owned by Little Joe, Sunny, Freddie Martínez, Rubén and Alfonso Ramos, Carlos Guzmán and countless other legends.
On the female vocalist side, there are dresses and costumes that were worn by Lydia Mendoza, Laura Canales, Patsy Torres,on up to Elida of Avante, Shelly Lares and Isabel Marie.
The exhibit just opened its doors and will remain up until December 20. Now, getting back to the cruise, if you have never cruised, don’t just put it in your ‘bucket list,’ do it. Go to and sign up.
Then get ready to put on your dancing shoes and “tighten up’ to the music of Archie Bell of the Drells. Or, just kick back and enjoy the soul filled voices of Jimmy Edward, Joe Jama and Chris Q.
Other Tejano artists scheduled to perform are Ram Herrera and Charanga King Hugo Guerrero. For eye-candy, girl watchers can feast their eyes on Stephanie Lynn, Candace Vargas and Tracy Pérez as they dance and belt out their hits.
Then there’s MC2, the Mambo Jazz Kings, and Los Hermanos Cortez, plus Avizo and Wild Bill Perkins’ all-star cruise band backing up all the acts. In other words, there’s something for everybody.
Your host and emcee for this fun time cruise will be Houston’s Ms. Bea Zarate and Jumpin’ Jess. The price of the cruise, which sets sail from Galveston on Monday, November 13 and returns on November 18, includes fees, gratuities, food, room and entry to all shows.
No passport is needed for U.S. citizens, but a birth certificate is mandatory. And don’t’ forget that acting cruise sheriff ‘La Ley de Tejas’ is laying down the law.
“That right,” Ramírez reiterated, “For everybody to have a good time, get down and have fun. That’s the law!”