Wednesday, 30 August 2017


Here comes another chapter in my attempt to reconstruct Vinnie Bell's path in the recorded music industry before his first single and debut album were released in 1960.

The last time I treated you with "Silently b/w Barracuda", a 1958 single by The Gallahads (...still available here), now it's time to dedicate a post to the mysterious - at least for me - The Overtones and their "Smoke Rings b/w Hawaiian Haze" 7" record released in 1959.

This single features Bell's guitar mastery and also credits him for co-writing one of the two instrumentals on offer.

For a detailed biography of Vinnie Bell, I suggest that you read this other post of mine.

Unfortunately I wasn't able to find any information about The Overtones... I am sure that some kind and gentle soul will come up with something relevant to fill the gap, thanks for your help as usual!

Here's the track list for this 7" single:

01. Smoke Rings (2:19)
02. Hawaiian Haze (3:01)

Both tracks were remastered from vinyl in June 2017 and are available in FLAC lossless format, along with scans of the original item.

Please have a look at the comments section for the download link.

"Smoke Rings b/w Hawaiian Haze" was released by ABC-Paramount with catalogue number 45-10053 sometimes in late September / early October 1959. The copy in my possession comes in a plain white sleeve, but at the time of release it was probably offered in a company sleeve similar to the one that I tried to faithfully reconstruct as the opening image of this post.

Although the record was reviewed in the October 5, 1959, issue of Billboard - and also mentioned in an ABC-Paramount ad on the same magazine a few weeks later - I never happened to see any actual copy of the officially released version, just promotional items like the one I'm offering here... Chances are that this release is extremely rare, or that it never passed the promotional stage.

On Side A we find Vinnie Bell performing the lead part - on what sounds almost unmistakably like a steel guitar - in the smooth "Smoke Rings", a song written in 1932 by Jazz musician Gene Gifford and lyricist Ned Washington. In 1937 the tune became the radio theme song for the Casa Loma Orchestra, a popular American dance band; you can listen to this version here. Strangely enough, the Billboard ad points to «an unusual electronic harmonica solo» which is nowhere to be found...

Side B offers "Hawaiian Haze", a song written by Vinnie Bell (as Vincent Gambella, his birth name) and one Johnny Brown, which was copyrighted on "21 September 1959". In my opinion the flipside is as interesting as the main piece, with Bell probably overdubbing himself on various parts, including the mandolinlike main melody. Nowadays, the term "Hawaiian Haze" indicates a popular strain of Marijuana, I can't help to wonder if it had the same meaning back in the days when this instrumental was recorded...

Vinnie Bell in the early '60s

The following clips offer a complete preview of the remastered single, enjoy!

More information about "Smoke Rings b/w Hawaiian Haze" and Vinnie Bell is available here:

If you have any other useful information about this post or if you spot any dead links, please get in touch with me at stereocandies [at] hotmail [dot] com or leave a comment in the box below, thank you!

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