BEE BOPS

Orlando, Fl.

 

 

The Bee Bops were a 1950s-60s duo led by founder Terry Barrett -- a Maine native who settled in Deltona and the Daytona Beach area in Florida. Billy Bruce, drummer from Valdosta, Ga., by way of Jacksonville and Miami, Florida (he's a Florida native and a Georgia transplant), heard Barrett playing a gig one keyboards and guitar and singing these fantastic old rock and roll songs by the founders of rock, like Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Dion and the Belmonts, Elvis, Fats Domino, and so on, and got real interested in becoming the newest drummer for The Bee Bops. This would be a solid gig at VFWs, American Legions, the numerous festivals in the Central Florida area, and also -- a special trip down memory lane as the house band at a revitalized 50s club, formerly Classie's, but revamped by the property owners as Boppers. The club was located in the Longwood--Cassleberry suburb of Orlando just south of Barrett's Deltona home and Bruce's DeLand/Orange City/DeBary wanderings while he worked as a reporter for the Daytona Beach News-Journal. "Loved dressing the same in car coats and baseball jackets that had 'The Bee Bops' written in a swirly font - a la 50s car clubs," Bruce said. "Terry handled lead vocals and pumped away on his keyboard, filling in a bass line on the lower end, and I thumped out the rock beats I really already knew so well, and added harmony vocals. It worked pretty well, although I always wanted us to hire a bass player. Problem was -- Terry's two-man duo formula worked very well. And he was pretty popular." Bruce wound up leaving to go join The Swamp River Band in DeLand to get back into a full band setup, but said he always missed being a Bee Bop. "I'd do it again if I had the chance," Bruce said. "I've lost track of Terry. If anyone knows where he is, drop me a line at billybruce1@juno.com." Coming into Boppers was not so easy to start. The property owners included the Longwood City Attorney. He also was the president of the Seminole County Bar Association. The former tenants were suing for damages when the owners decided they could do a better job of building the business. And The Bee Bops were front and center in the new owners' plans to bring the club into more profitable territory. "The pressure was on to play and sing and entertain well, and I think we did really well for a duo," Bruce said. "It saved the club money having to play only two musicians, and they got more than their money's worth with our efforts." (see the story on the new ownership included here. It may not be legible to read, but it was published in the Orlando Sentinel).

SHOWN HERE are The Bee Bops playing at a Volusia County Fairgrounds event on the broad stage, and also playing a gig on the rear deck of the new Boppers Club in Longwood/Casselberry. And some of their rowdy friends there. "We had a pretty strong regular fan following. They'd follow us around," Bruce said.

(pics and info courtesy Billy Bruce)

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