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Bob & Earl

Bobby Byrd and Earl Nelson had both been members of a prolific doo-wop group in Los Angeles called The Hollywood Flames, while Byrd also had a parallel solo career, writing and recording as Bobby Day (he wrote and recorded the original version of Little Bitty Pretty One and had a hit of his own with Rockin’ Robin in 1958).

The pair began recording together as Bob & Earl on the Class record label but achieved little success, prompting Byrd to return to his solo career.

Earl Nelson recruited a second “Bob” – Bobby Relf, who also used the stage names of Bobby Garrett and Bobby Valentino – and the duo had a hit with the often-covered Harlem Shuffle in 1963 (reportedly George Harrison‘s favourite song of all time).

In 1964, they began recording for Loma Records but no singles were released, and by 1965, Earl Nelson had achieved success as a solo artist under the alias of Jackie Lee with The Duck, a hit dance record that reached #14 in the US.

When Harlem Shuffle became a massive hit on its reissue in 1969, Nelson and Relf reunited as Bob & Earl to tour before calling it a day in the early 1970s.

Bobby Byrd died of prostate cancer in 1990. Bob Relf died at his home in Bakersfield, California, in 2007 following several years of illness. Earl Nelson died in Los Angeles on 12 July 2008, aged 79.

Earl Nelson
Bob Relf
Bobby Byrd