Bruce Belland was so close to working with the "King." It was 1977 when the former member of the ‘50s quartet The Four Preps found himself at an all-night Denny’s with a copy of Billboard. By then, he was a producer on the game show "Name That Tune." A middle-aged waitress shuffled her way to the singer’s table to take his order. Belland, who has led a decades-long career as a singer-songwriter, is sharing his story in a new memoir, "Icons, Idols and Idiots of Hollywood: My Adventures in America’s First Boy Band." 'M*A*S*H' ACTOR ELLIOTT GOULD RECALLS ELVIS PRESLEY ASKING ABOUT BARBRA STREISAND SPLIT: 'SHUT UP, ELVIS' "She saw my Billboard and said, ‘You’re a musician?’" the 87-year-old recalled to Fox News Digital. "And she said, ‘Boy when I come home all weary after a day’s work and my feet are killing me, my old man’s asleep on the La-Z-Boy by the television. I go into my bedroom, I kick off my shoes, I lay out on the bed and put on my earphones. I listen to Perry Como, and I listen to Eddie Fisher And all my cares just melt away. And I think, what would I do without my music?’" A light bulb went off for Belland. He quickly grabbed her pen and scribbled down lyrics about the power of music. He then had another idea. "I had dated at one time a woman who is now in Elvis Presley’s entourage," he explained. "Well, the more I looked at the song and studied it, the more I said to myself, ‘This would be a great song for Elvis.’ I called her, I told her the premise of the song. She said, ‘Get it to me right away.’ I sent her a demo. The next thing I know, about two weeks later, she called and said, ‘He loves your song. Elvis is going to record it. He’s got a session scheduled with the gospel choir to back him on it.’" Belland was stunned. But another surprise awaited him. "She said, ‘Wait a minute,’" he shared. "Next thing I know, I hear Elvis’s voice on the phone. He was so polite. He was a good ol’ Southern boy. [He said], ‘Yes sir, I like your song a lot. I think it could do for me what ‘My Way’ has been for Frank Sinatra. I’m looking forward to recording it, sir.’" CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP FOR THE ENTERTAINMENT NEWSLETTER "I’m on Cloud 10," gushed Belland. "For the next week or two, I’m already spending the money." But Belland never got to hear Presley sing his song. Thirteen days before Presley was to record the track, he died of a heart attack at age 42. "I’ve been told by people who tour Graceland that the demo of the song and sheet music are actually on a table somewhere," said Belland. "It was recorded by T.G. Sheppard, Roy Clark and a lot of country artists, but it never caught on as it would’ve with Elvis." "You can imagine if it’d been his last recording, what it would’ve meant to the world," Belland shared. "The song certainly talked about what music meant in his life. It’s about how music can restore your soul, how it gives life, especially during tough times. And I think that’s why the song touched him, and he liked it." It wouldn’t be the last time Belland faced tragedy. In 1985, his pal and former classmate Ricky Nelson, who starred in the ‘50s series "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet," died in a plane crash. He was 45. The Four Preps played the teen idol’s fraternity brothers and backup singers in the hit show. "Ricky was a walking contradiction," Belland recalled. "He was a shy clown with a barbed wit. He would just say the darnedest things. I remember one morning on set, he was fuming. He said, ‘I took a girl out Saturday night and her curfew was 12 o’clock. I didn’t get her back until 12:17, and her old man was on the front porch and tore my head off. I’m Ricky Nelson! You think he’d be honored.’ "Ricky had grown up in a bubble as a child celebrity," Belland shared. "All he had to do was say, ‘I’d like to have a drum set,’ and an hour later, there was a new drum set in his room. He lived a very sheltered life. He didn’t have a realistic grasp on what real life was because he’d been a star since he was 10 or 11 years old. But he was a sweet guy. He was very gentle, tender and totally dedicated to his music. We used to sit around the record player and hear Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Fats Domino. So, we got our musical education together." Belland said the group's appearance on the sitcom catapulted it to stardom. In 1958, its track "26 Miles Across the Sea (Santa Catalina)" sold more than 1 million copies. Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys later cited it as one of his favorites. That same year, The Four Preps appeared in the surfer film "Gidget" opposite Sandra Dee. "We were called milk-fed, clean-cut, homegrown and all that stuff," Belland explained about the group’s cookie-cutter image. "We were four very clean-cut kids. … I’m a preacher’s kid. Two of the guys in the group were Mormons, and Ed [Cobb], the jock, wasn’t about to waste himself on bizarre stuff. So, we were very straight-laced." "We weren’t embarrassed by it at all," he continued. "We wore the label proudly. And I’m proud to say none of us ever got arrested or anything. So, I guess we deserved the description. We were proud of it. My dad, in particular, when I got into show business, he was [worried] I would end up being a dope fiend. So, he always got great pride out of the fact that the press would always talk about what clean-cut guys we were. So, it worked out OK." LIKE WHAT YOU’RE READING? CLICK HERE FOR MORE ENTERTAINMENT NEWS In 1964, Belland said, the Beatles threatened to sue The Four Preps for their satirical record, which poked fun at Beatlemania. The Four Preps disbanded in 1969. Belland insisted there were no hard feelings. "We hadn’t had a hit for two, three years," he said. "You also had the British Invasion and Motown. Ed was producing records with Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd and Steely Dan. Glen Larson was selling scripts to Universal. Marv Ingram was very heavily invested in the stock market. I was doing voice-overs for a lot of Disney films. "So, while we were still a group, we were all off developing our careers and our futures. … We didn’t want to end up playing at a bowling alley in Bakersfield. So, we just said, ‘Guys, it’s been a great run.’ We had a lot of adventures together, but we were also very excited to venture out on our own." Cobb went on to become a sought-after songwriter and is known for his hit "Tainted Love." Larson created hit TV shows like "Knight Rider" and Magnum P.I." Ingram became a commodities broker. As a producer, Belland became involved with shows like "Hollywood Squares, "Truth or Consequences" and "The Mickey Mouse Club." He was also involved in the development of "Wheel of Fortune." Today, Belland is eager to share his life story. "I haven’t had this much fun in a long time," he said. "I never thought anything could replace standing on stage and making music. I would be lying if I said this is just as good, but it’s pretty darn close."
29 Ekim 2023 - 11:10
Elvis Presley's swan song: Singer reveals new details about hit the 'King' thought would restart his career
Bruce Belland of The Four Preps wrote "What Would I Do Without My Music" for Elvis Presley. The song was later recorded by Roy Clark and T.G. Sheppard.
29 Ekim 2023 - 11:10