Written by David Bellamy
Radio & Records
#1 (1 week)
March 21, 1980
#1 (1 week)
April 5, 1980
Country music fans who grew up on The Judds, Brooks & Dunn, and Brother Osborne might be surprised to learn that when the Bellamy Brothers arrived, Vocal Duos in country music were usually made up of a male artist and a female artist who also recorded solo material. This norm shifted in the eighties, and the success of the Bellamy Brothers had a lot to do with that.
They entered the eighties having just broken through in the country market in 1979. Following their wildly successful pop hit “Let Your Love Flow,” the duo enjoyed their first No. 1 country hit, “If I Said You Had a Beautiful Body Would You Hold it Against Me.” Their final single of the seventies, “You Ain’t Just Whistlin’ Dixie,” went top five.
“Sugar Daddy” served as the lead single to You Can Get Crazy, and it was a clear attempt to recreate what worked about “Hold it Against Me.” It just wasn’t a successful one.
The Bellamy Brothers can never come off as leery because their records are already so low energy. They aren’t flat out tuneless like future duos Big & Rich and Florida-Georgia Line, but their harmonies are too often applied to songs without a discernable melody. They sound like they’re at a sound check and are preserving their voices for the real show later that night.
“Sugar Daddy” itself is far too boring to even be offensive. They’re so disconnected from the lyrics as they’re delivering them that I never believed for a second that they even had the money to be sugar daddies. But for posterity’s sake, here is a little of their sugar daddy pitch:
You’re the kind of womanWho likes to be on her own Except for those times You need a man all night long.
You like all the finer thingsAll my money can buy I like the way your body sings I love the fire in your eyes.
What you need is a sugar daddyDiamond rings and a brand new caddy Little things to help a girl make it through And what you need are satin pillows Ribbons fallin’ down like willows What you need is me to love you.
We’ll see the Bellamy Brothers with the second single from You Must Be Crazy later this year.
“Sugar Daddy” gets a D.
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Sigh. Yeah. Too much of the Bellamys’ stuff wasn’t much if any better than T.G. Sheppard.
“Old Hippie” was an absolute masterpiece, though.
Country music has a rich history of sibling duos from its earliest days as a commercial, form from the Wilburn Brothers to the Louvin Brothers to The Blue Sky Boys. Admittedly, the thread connecting the Bellamy Brothers to those acts was well frayed and worn by 1980.
I also think Howard and David deserve more credit for their early promotion of “country music without prejudice.” As would be expected of long-haired, weed smoking Floridians, they quietly went about their business of allowing their version of country music to be influenced by other musical styles and sounds. Jimmy Buffet wasn’t the only country performer at the time celebrating island music. There are also obvious elements of early rock and roll, R&B, and the Beatles in the Bellamy Brothers sound. The duo also enjoyed significant international fame in the UK, Germany, and Scandinavia.
The Bellamies were too much a part of my country music education via the radio in the early eighties to dismiss them. Their sound is foundational to my country experience.
Perhaps an acquired taste, the depth they showed in “Old Hippie” and “Kids of the Baby Boom” would later re-emerge in their most recent single “No Country Music for Old Men.”
When I listen to some of their sleazier material now, I hear a playfulness I don’t in T.G. Sheppard’s songs, sort of a knowing wink from the dancin’ cowboys.
The Bellamy’s could harmonize on an old school country weeper like does she wish she was single again (ok maybe not the greatest country song, but an improvement over much of country radio at the time). Shame they relied heavily on novelty songs. Dated AF!