Those of you who know the song “Please Give Me Something” by Bill Allen and the Backbeats know that the song stands as one of the greatest rockabilly records ever cut. And yet, after that wonderful record was recorded in 1957, the band was virtually never heard from again and broke up quietly in the early 60s.
That the band didn’t record any other material is unfortunate enough, but the story is even sadder than that. “Please Give Me Something” was released on Imperial records and Imperial’s owner wanted the band to fly to California to remix the record. Bill Allen (Snively) refused to leave his wife who was about to give birth to the couple’s first baby and promised he’d do it after the baby was born. The Imperial man didn’t like this answer and pulled the record from the shelves, selling remaining stock to a wholesaler.
As Snively says, “We did one song and we didn’t make a nickel off it. People who have any copies of that record are getting $600 apiece for them.”
So, another example of a brilliant artistic performance earning nothing for the artist. But at least our friend Bob Timmers from The Rockabilly Hall of Fame is on the case. For a long time, Snively and the band were lost to history. While the recording became a cult classic–especially in Europe–the band didn’t even know they were the stars they are. Until they were finally tracked down in Akron, Ohio and Timmers inducted them into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.
Snively’s not in good health these days and so the dream many people have of him performing the song again is not likely to come true. “…I don’t feel much like a rock star with all these tubes hanging off me,” Snively says. But he’s tickled and proud to be a rockabilly hall of famer along with “…some pretty good company like Chet Atkins, Carl Perkins, Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran–a lot of the guys I played with,” he said.
So, congratulations to Bill Allen Snively, Dean Hanley, and John Seli–also known as Bill Allen and the Backbeats!