started at an early age meeting their various band members in High
School, etc. This was no different for Bill Deal and The Rhondells.
Note the “H” in Rhondells. There is an entire article on the Bill
Deal website devoted to that as well as many other interesting facts
about Bill and the group from the late founder’s son Bill, Jr. and
the Deal family. http://www.billdealonline.com/
“Bill” Deal, was born July 8, 1944, and passed December 10, 2003 at
the young age of 59. I need not write about how the group is formed
as the website tells all that and much more. I urge you to take a
look for some great memories. Suffice it to say that he was a family
man and got great pleasure from doing what he did best, entertaining
One of his
first accomplishments in the music business was a little Jimmy Soul
song from 1963 in which he played saxophone, “If You Wanna Be
Happy”. The group itself was formed in 1959 in Portsmouth, Virginia,
combining what was described as blue-eyed soul and beach music to
form their unique sound. They had three hit singles in 1969: "May I"
which went to #39 on Billboard’s Top 100; "I've Been Hurt" #35; and
"What Kind Of Fool Do You Think I Am" peaking at #23. With “I’ve
Been Hurt” particularly reaching # 13 on the WOLF Hot 30 in
playing local shows around the Virginia Beach area, they got
requests for an obscure Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs song called
“May I”. They’d never heard of it, so later Bill found a copy. The
group learned the song and added it to their set. After they played
it for a couple of years in fairly straight-forward fashion, they
grew tired of it and dropped it in 1968. Later that year, someone
shouted out a request for the song again, and Deal decided to add
something different to it to make it more interesting to the band.
As long as they were going to play it, they did in the form of a
polka beat, and the audience loved it. After performing it in this
version, they now decided it was kind of a cool song to do and
decided to record it. They pressed a couple hundred copies of their
"oompah-oompah, shoop-dooby-dooby" version which now kind of defined
their own “sound”.
hand-delivered copies to the local record stores and radio stations.
It became quite popular and they had to press more and more as the
singles kept selling out. One day, Bill received a call from WGH
disc jockey Gene Loving to say that a New York producer was
interested in their record. Not being able to keep up with sales
anyway, they decided to go ahead and sign, and the rest, as they
say, is history. Heritage records released “May I” followed by a
remake of The Tams’ “I’ve Been Hurt”. They followed that by what
turned out to be their biggest hit, an upbeat version of the Tams’,
“What Kind Of Fool Do You Think I Am”. All of which did fairly well
and received lots of airplay across the country.
It has been
written that overall, the group was an improbable candidate for this
kind of success since they looked and dressed more like a lounge act
than a rock & roll band.
In 1969 they played Madison Square Garden on the same bill
with Deep Purple and Neil Young & Crazy Horse.
two singles didn’t do so well but I always thought was among their
best work. They are two of my all time favorites in fact:
“Swinging Tight” and “Nothing Succeeds Like Success”, featured
album, The Best of Bill Deal & the Rhondels, followed only
reaching #185 in the Top 200 LP