From Spiro to Liverpool and Back Again: Hepcats, Stingers, Cornbread and R. C. Gamble, a new exhibit at the Fort Smith Museum of History will feature a wonderful collection of memorabilia loaned by museum volunteer Mark Potter and by the Gamble Family. The opening reception is Thursday, January 31 at 6:00 pm.
Bee Bumble and the Stingers were a Fort Smith based band, headed by R. C. Gamble, known for “taking classical songs and messing them up.” “Flight of the Bumble Bee” and “Nutcracker Suite” became hits as “Bumble Boogie” and “Nut Rocker.” After “Nut Rocker” hit number one in England, Bee Bumble and the Stingers headed overseas for their first tour. The Stingers opening act at The Cavern in Liverpool was a small quartet called “The Beatles.” How cool is that!
After the tour, Bee Bumble and the Stingers returned home to Arkansas, going their separate ways, but continuing in music. Eventually, R. C. Gamble opened a venue, The Beehive, which became a well-known Fort Smith hot spot, giving bands and members of Bee Bumble and the Stingers a permanent place to play. In the 1970s, The Cornbread formed following Bee Bumble and the Stingers.
The exhibit includes an original hand painted poster, original 45 records, sheet music, a performance return for Colton Hall in Bristol, England, a Beatles jacket from the 1964 U. S. Tour (courtesy of Chris Carter), costumes, recordings and a saxophone loaned by R. C. Gamble's daughter, Adria Hanson and much more. Two 1962 issues of the New Musical Express, "the world's largest circulation of any music newspaper," lists "Nut Rocker" as No. 1 and features Bee Bumble and the Stingers in an article and an ad. An LP and 45 of The Cornbread is featured.
The exhibit and opening reception are included with museum admission. The exhibit will run through March 30.
Photograph of The Cornbread album courtesy of Mark Potter.