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Interview with Gee Bello (Producer of Mighty 7)


Musical talent Gee Bello is a long standing member of Light Of The World and the driving force behind the short but marvellous 'Call Me' by Mighty 7, recorded in the U.K. back in 1984. Stacy Selsdon took care of the lead vocals and the record is very sought after but hard to find. Read more about Gee Bello and the story behind the record in the interview below. Listen to a sample here.



Danceclassics.net:

Today I'm interviewing Gee Bello, songwriter/singer and member of the renowned british band Light Of The World. Insiders know about his musical and vocal qualities, but it's time we know a little more about the man behind all the music. Welcome Gee, how are you?

Gee Bello:

Thanks Ed. I am very well. It's always a pleasure to have the opportunity to talk about music which I have been involved in, especially as EMI Records have just released the LOTW anthology "Addicted To Funk" It also features Alexander O'Neal on a track called “Walk Don’t Run”. This is a double CD featuring all the major LOTW Tracks and disc 2 featuring LOTW Associated Projects & Rarities. So I have been doing lots of promotion for this new release.

Danceclassics.net:

As far as I know, your real name is Ganiyu Bello and you were born and raised in the United Kingdom. Your name sounds somewhat exotic to me though. Where did your ancestors come from?

Gee Bello:

It was my fathers idea to give me the name. He came from West Africa, Nigeria and my mother is English. The translation of my name "Ganiyu" means Communicator. He must have known that this name would suit me as I have spent most of my life communicating ideas through music.

Danceclassics.net:

You have been 'doing' music practically all of your life and your father was a musician as well. Do you have more musical family members?

Gee Bello:

My father was a drummer and my uncle was a fire eating bongo player!!!! But I was the only one out of the rest of the family who took up music as a professional occupation. But look out for my son Saul Bello he's only 14 years old and has taken up the kit.

Danceclassics.net
:


When did 'The Funk' catch you and who were your heroes?

Gee Bello:

I became “addicted“ to funk circa 1974–1976, my older brother Bisi began collecting lots of vinyl, particularly black American imports. Me being quite young at the time started listening to them when he went out. I can remember Curtis Mayfield, Herbie Hancock, Head Hunters, Bar-Kays, Harvey Mason, Seawind, Earth Wind & Fire, The Commodores, The Black Byrds, War, Kool & The Gang, Many of the acts that I've mentioned came to Manchester and I was fortunate to have seen them live in concert. After seeing them I felt inspired and soon started to form my own funk covers band called “Street Gang” We didn’t earn any money, but it did get me out of Manchester and I travelled the world.


Danceclassics.net:

You recorded and toured with famous artists such as George Michael, Jason Donovan, Jelly Bean Benitez, Spandau Ballet, Human League, Aretha Franklin, Incognito, Simple Minds and others. I was surprised to find out that you were actually the man behind Mighty 7. It seems you were touring with mainstream artists and producing underground artists at the same time?

Gee Bello:

When I moved to London in the late 70s, I joined LOTW and we soon began having main stream hits. This brought me in contact with these extraordinary talented artists that you mention. I was and still am very interested in working with artists from different musical and social backgrounds. So when I met someone who was making records or anyone that was touring and if they invited me to work with them, I saw it as an opportunity to broaden my understanding of the music business, and I accepted their invitation. These experiences would sometimes lead to new production techniques that I would utilize in my own recording sessions.

Danceclassics.net:

In 1985 you recorded your solo album 'Gee Bello' featuring the amazing song 'Save Your Love' which is now also included on the 'Addicted To Funk' compilation CD. How did your '85 album come about and how was it perceived?

Gee Bello:

In 1985 LOTW had ground to a halt, musically we were all exhausted . EMI were asking me for some solo material, I said I wanted to record in the States, I presented them with a list of producers who I wished to work with. Eventually it was agreed that I could work with Lonnie Simmons's outfit, “Total Experience” home to The Gap Band, Yarborough & Peoples, Prime Time, Penny Ford, and a whole host of super funky people. When I arrived in Los Angeles I had with me some songs I had written in the UK, others were just rough ideas that I developed into songs with some of the producers. “Save your Love” was especially written for me by Oliver Scott. I remember the first time he played it to me. It sounded wonderful, believe me I would have chewed my own arm off to record that song. After I had finished the album I returned the U.K. only to find that my A&R person had been replaced by a new person. Disappointingly my one and only solo album “Gee Bello” was not released in the U.K. Yet ironically it was only available on U.S import via Capitol Records U.S.A.

Danceclassics.net:

You had a record deal with EMI records, the label on which Mighty 7 - Call Me was released in 1984. What is the story behind that record? Were there seven people involved as the name suggests?

Gee Bello:

Dee C. Lee. was earmarked to sing this song, but she jumped ship and joined The Style Council. Stacy Selsdon was singing backing vocals for “The Team” another band of mine, she stepped up to bat and saved the session, she was marvellous. “Call Me” was the second song on the session recorded at Peer Southern Studios, Demark Street, London, written by Gee Bello & Paul “Tubbs” Williams it was released on the B side of “Push The Button” on EMI, a limited edition.“Push The Button” is featured on the LOTW album “ Addicted To Funk" however I wish I had also chosen “Call Me”!!! Regarding the band name “Mighty 7” , its not due to the number of people in the band, it simply sounded good!

Danceclassics.net:

As you may know already, the Mighty 7 maxi single is very sought after today by collectors. I've had only 2 copies in my hands so far. Do you know how many copies exist of that record?

Gee Bello:

I’m amazed to find that the track is of interest to people. However I cant tell you how many exist.

Gee Bello with producer Jonah Ellis at Capitol Records



Danceclassics.net:

You said you also co-produced the Haley Anderson 'All To Myself' 12 inch together with Nat Augustin and Haley Anderson. That's yet another very great and hard to find record. You seem to have been among the best underground british funk producers at that time. Any other productions by you in that style we collectors should be looking out for?

Gee Bello:

'All To Myself' 12 inch was a co-write with Haley, Nat & myself. We recorded the demo at Peer Southern Studios with Balis Novak on keyboards. The record that eventually made at Red Bus Studios, by George Hargreaves but its a virtual note for note copy of our original Demo. Regarding other productions: 'The Team', 'Savannah feat. Leroy', 'Finesse', 'The Secret Masters'. There are probably some others that are worth looking out for but I will have to give this some more thought.

Danceclassics.net:

Nat Augustin had a fantastic solo release called 'All My Love' in 1985. Also some Gee Bello input there?

Gee Bello:

Nat Augustin is a multi-talented person. I didn’t have any involvement in that particular track. I guess Nat will have to give you the details on that one.

Nat Augustin & Gee Bello around 1984



Danceclassics.net:

You and Nat Augustin are good friends and both member of Light Of The World. Is Nat still an active member of the band and do you guys still perform live?

Gee Bello:

Absolutely. LOTW still records and performs live shows and Nat remains an integral member. You can find us at www.lotw-funk.com



Danceclassics.net:

Do you think writing good music today is not as easy as it was in the 80's? I often feel that the music from the 80's was much more inspired. What are your feelings about that?

Gee Bello:

The 80's was a golden period for recording soul & funk. The musicians and the writers of the 80's were inspired by the previous generation of 60's/70's era. The Music Business was relatively new. The difficulty today for composers, is that, in the 21st century, music is freely available like it never was before, the world is a different place. People can express their creativity in other ways and spend their cash on computers and software etc.

Danceclassics.net:

Thank you very much Gee for your time and words. It was a pleasure to hear from you.

Gee Bello:

You're welcome!




July, 2006

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