Narvel Felts

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About Narvel Felts

Singer/songwriter Narvel Felts was in the country music business for over 30 years. Born in Bernie, Missouri, he was a self-taught guitar player inspired by the country music of such performers as Ernest Tubb and Floyd Tillman. Felts started out in 1956 when he won his high-school talent contest with a rousing rendition of "Blue Suede Shoes." A DJ from Dexter, Missouri was in the audience, and was so impressed that the next day he announced over the air that his station, KDEX, wanted to get in touch with Narvel Felts. The excited teen and his father drove eight miles to the nearest phone, and soon Felts was appearing at the station for his own Saturday afternoon show. He got his real break when he asked Jerry Mercer if he could jam with the latter's band during a performance. Soon Felts was a member and when Mercer left in 1956, 17-year-old Felts became the new frontman for the Rockets. His first manager was a record shop owner who arranged for the group to audition for Sun Records in Nashville. Felts and one bandmember attended the first tryout in front of Jack Clement, who suggested they return home, write a few more songs, and return with the whole band; they did, but these first sessions were not released until much later. The Rockets returned to performing, and while opening for the film Rock, Pretty Baby at a theater in St. Louis, a regional promoter from Mercury heard them and eventually signed them to his label. They cut five singles with Mercury that were released in 1959. Felts continued recording some of the band's songs on independent labels and in 1960 had minor chart success with a cover of the Drifters' "Honey Love." This success led him to sign with MGM; he remained with them for two years and released nothing. Through the '60s, Felts continued performing and recording, but concentrated much of his energy on his wife and kids. In 1973, he finally got a big break in music when he signed to the Cinnamon label. His second single, "Drift Away," provided Felts with his first Top Ten record. He followed it with a string of hits including "All in the Name of Love" (1973) and "I Want to Stay" (1974). The label folded in 1975 and Felts then signed with ABC/Dot, where he continued having chart success. It was about this time that Felts scored his biggest hit, "Reconsider Me." The song made it to number three and received accolades from industry magazines. Again, a string of hits such as "Lonely Teardrops" followed. Another smash was the 1978 song "Run for the Roses." Felts lost his contract with ABC when it was purchased by MCA. It was during the mid-'70s that his road manager fired the Rockets and began booking Felts as a solo act backed by the band Wild Country. After a while he and the band went their separate ways and the band went on to become the supergroup Alabama. Later Felts formed a new band, the Driftaways, and in the late '70s became a favorite performer at England's Wembley Festival. In the '80s, he found religion and turned toward gospel music on the albums On the Wings of a Song and Season's Greetings, a Christmas record. ~ Sandra Brennan

Keiser, AR, United States
11 November 1938
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