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B. Bumble and the Stingers were an American instrumental ensemble in the early 1960s, who specialized in making rock and roll arrangements of classical melodies. Their biggest hits were "Bumble Boogie" and "Nut Rocker", which reached number 1 in the UK Singles Chart in 1962. The recordings were made by session musicians at Rendezvous Records in Los Angeles, but when they became successful a touring group was formed led by R. C. Gamble (3 November 1941–2 August 2008) as "Billy Bumble".
In 1959, Earl Palmer, René Hall and Plas Johnson, all African American musicians from Louisiana, were the house band at Rendezvous Records. According to Palmer, the three friends “always talked about how we could make some money and not leave the studio. One day I said, 'Let's do a rock version of "In The Mood"'. The single, credited to the Ernie Fields Orchestra, became a hit, reaching # 4 on the US pop charts in early 1960.
Hall then came up with the idea for B. Bumble and the Stingers, taking the same approach to a piece of classical music. Prompted by record producer Kim Fowley, he approached pianist Jack Fina, whose 1946 swing arrangement of Rimsky-Korsakov's "Flight of the Bumble Bee" for Freddy Martin and his Orchestra, called "Bumble Boogie" (RCA Victor 20-1829), had reached # 7 on the charts and been used in the 1948 Walt Disney animated film Melody Time. Using Fina's arrangement, Fowley recorded pianist Ernie Freeman on two tracks, one using a grand piano for the rhythm part, whilst the other featured a doctored upright with thumb tacks attached to the hammers. The other musicians on the session, at Gold Star Studios, were Palmer on drums, Red Callender on bass, and Tommy Tedesco on guitar.
"Bumble Boogie" went to # 21 on the Billboard charts in June 1961. Because the session musicians all had other studio commitments, a teen band from Ada, Oklahoma, who had played no part in the recording itself, were recruited to handle promotion and public appearances. Their names were given as Fred Richards, Don Orr, and "B. Bumble", a pseudonym for guitarist R. C. Gamble.
A recording date was quickly arranged, but on the day, Freeman didn't show, apparently due to heavy partying the night before. In his place, guitarist and arranger René Hall rushed pianist Al Hazan into the Rendezvous office, which was rigged up as an improvised studio. According to Hazan, "Rod decided to record the first take while I was still trying to practice the piece with the other musicians. Because I was so rushed to learn 'Nut Rocker', I was not happy at all with my performance on that first take. However, in spite of my asking Rod to let me do it over again, he said he liked it just fine the way it was." Released as "Nut Rocker" in February 1962, the record went to # 23 in the US and # 1 in the UK. Del Rio struck a deal with Randy Wood of Dot Records and re-released what they were now calling "(The Original) Nut Rocker" by Jack B. Nimble and the Quicks, but it was not a hit.
Later releases and legacy
R. C. Gamble retired from music in 1965 and later became economics professor at Fort Hayes State College in Hayes, Kansas. He died in 2008.
A version of "Nut Rocker" was recorded in 1972 by Emerson, Lake and Palmer. The original version was reissued at the same time, and again made the UK charts. The recording has been used as background in several movies, including Butcher Boy (1998) and Big Momma's House (2000).