Biography


Dick Feller (Richard Dean Feller) was born on January 2, 1943 in Bronaugh, Missouri, a small town with a population of 214. He was raised and got his influences among numerous styles of music, from blues exponents such as John Lee Hooker, Howlin' Wolf and Jimmy Reed through to Hank Williams, Jimmie Rodgers through the instrumental works of Chet Atkins and the legendary Merle Travis. This solid musical background formed the young musician. On his twelfth birthday Dick Feller got his first guitar from his Grandfather. It was a guitar bought at a junksale. It had only one string, but young Feller started immediately to tune it! Some time later he started taking guitar lessons by hitching rides with the local mailman to a neighboring town, and at fifteen year old he was playing for dances with a local band. Graduating from high school, Feller played lead guitar in various rock & roll groups and blues bands, becoming a proficient rock 'n' roll guitarist. Around 1964 Feller went to L.A. to play in a band and hone his songwriting skills, but with no particular luck. So he went home to Missouri to continue playing with local bands.

In 1966 Dick Feller moved to Nashville, then he a couple of years later joined Mel Tillis’ touring band, The Statesiders, and toured with them for a while. He also toured with Skeeter Davis and Stu Phillips, as a band member. For some years Dick Feller was the touring band leader for Warner Mack, and he also played sessions on several of Mack's albums.

During his early years in Nashville, Feller played demos of his own songs by days, but didn’t tell other band members that he was a song writer. Before 1970 Feller wrote songs with only meager success. The first tune he ever had released, was a song entitled Boston, which Jimmy Payne put on a record in 1968.

Dick Feller - picture taken about 1974 Dick Feller has told reporters that he had learned to write by listening to Johnny Cash’s early songs. So when Cash opened his own publishing company, House Of Cash, Feller went there and left some songs. One day Cash called him with the special words that Feller never could forget: "I like your songs. They’re not just a bunch of words." So Cash signed Feller as a staff writer. The year was 1970. Cash recorded some of his songs, and he also got Feller a record contract with Columbia, but they didn’t do anything with him.

In 1972 Cash got a No. 1 country hit with Feller's Any Old Wind That Blows. Another Feller song had become a hit the year before; in 1971 Tex Williams had recorded Feller's song The Night Miss Nancy Ann's Hotel for Single Girls Burned Down, a talking story-type song that became a Top 30 single in the States. Jimmy Dean's producer then asked Feller to write a song for Dean with a similar feel to it. Feller decided to write a song about automobiles in a kinda Jerry Reed style (Reed had had an influence on Feller). The result was Lord, Mr. Ford. Dean decided to not record it, and Feller was left with a song but no singer. Then suddenly he had a dream. He dreamed that he took his song to Reed's publishing company. So he did. After having heard Dick Feller sing the song once, Reed said he wanted to record it. He also decided to record two other of Feller's songs, The Lady Is A Woman and the beautiful One Sweet Reason. Lord, Mr. Ford became a No. 1 Hit for Jerry Reed in 1973 and became at the same time Dick Feller's biggest song-writing break. This was the beginning of a long-lasting association between Feller and Reed. Feller signed Reed's own publishing company, Vector Music, as a staff writer in 1975, and Reed and Feller became co-writers for some years. Some of their songs can be heard in movies, such as Smokey and the Bandit (1977). Feller and Reed co-wrote the well-known East Bound And Down, and Feller wrote The Bandit. A number of other Feller compositions are to be found on several of Reed's own albums. At that time Feller was also touring as opening act for the Jerry Reed show.

In 1973 Dick Feller had made his own recording debut, and the single Biff, The Friendly Purple Bear made it to the Top 25 and crossed over to become a minor pop hit as well. This song is very likely Feller's most remembered performance. The same year he released his first album, Dick Feller Wrote..., which was released through United Artists. Some months later he released a single that deserves to be mentioned, The Credit Card Song, which is typical for Feller's humorous style and reached the Top Ten. Feller signed with Asylum Records in 1974. His first release for the label was the single Makin' the Best of a Bad Situation, which made it to the Top 15 and again crept into the pop charts.

Dick Feller continued writing songs, and besides that he played guitar sessions on the records of other contemporary artists, such as Jerry Jeff Walker, Guy Clark and Mike Auldridge. At the same time he also made some more of his own recordings. In 1975 he had his last chart entry as a performer, with the funny Uncle Hiram And His Homemade Beer, which made it to the Top 50. In 1981 John Denver recorded Feller's lovely Some Days Are Diamonds (Some Days Are Stone), and scored a major country-pop hit. A couple of years before that, Bobby Bare had made a hit with the same song. Regular tours, especially to UK country clubs, made Feller known and popular in Europe too. His first overseas tour was made in 1980. And in 1981, supported by The Kelvin Henderson Band, he toured in England, Scotland and Holland.

Dick Feller - picture taken overseas in 1981His last record, a live album, came in 1982. Together with Donz Schlitz he composed songs for the movie Smokey And The Bandit 3 (1983), and also a tune for Alamo Bay (1985). For several years Dick Feller was writing and touring with the late Lewis Grizzard, as opening attraction for the Evening With Lewis Grizzard stage show. Feller also co-produced Grizzard's album, Alimony, which was released the year Grizzard died, in 1994. Actually Grizzard died before the album was finished, and therefore Feller together with Timmy Tappan finished it. Feller played both the guitar and bass, and added his vocals to six of the tracks as well. Eleven of the twelve tracks on this album were co-written by Feller and Grizzard.

The last few years Feller has been writing many songs with Sheb Wooley. Three of their co-written songs were performed by Wooley on the truck drivin' collection Kickin' Asphalt, which was released in November 1999. Del Reeves performed another Feller-Wooley composition on the same CD. Even more songs have been written by Feller and Wooley, who in the fall of 2000 went into studio to record a demo of a few tunes.

Through the years Dick Feller has also written and performed a number of commercials for different companies and products, such as the Dodge TV commercial Do You Like Trucks?, and the Pepsi jingle By Any Other Name. His Dodge Truck National TV commercial Little Boy's Dream even won a price as the best commercial of the year. Feller has also made commercials for AT&T Calling Card, Beech-Nut Tobacco, Colgate-Palmolive, among others.

Five of Dick Feller's songs have won BMI Awards:

Any Old Wind That Blows
The Credit Card Song
East Bound And Down
Lord, Mr. Ford
Some Days Are Diamonds

As written by Dick Feller himself in the liner notes on his album "Wrote...": a songwriter is an observer - a reporter - voyeur of emotions (...) i take people i have met and invent new situations for them - then sit back and see how they react. thats called writing a song.

Unfortunately, Dick Feller has not received the attention he so richly deserves.

 
On UK tour with Kelvin Henderson Band in 1981.
Feller to the left.