Narvel Felts (1938–)
Albert Narvel Felts is a singer and songwriter best known for a string of commercially successful country music recordings in the 1970s. Over the course of his career, Felts has been known for performing a wide range of music, including rockabilly, pop, R&B, soul, and gospel, but it is his traditional country and rockabilly recordings that gained him the most attention.
Narvel Felts was born on November 11, 1938, near Keiser (Mississippi County) to Albert and Lena Felts. In 1953, when he was fourteen, the family, including Felts and his older sister Ogareeda, relocated eighty miles north to the community of Powe, Missouri.
As a teenager, Felts taught himself to play a guitar that, he has said, “was held together with wire.” He bought the guitar with $15 he had saved from working in the cotton fields. This was the same guitar he was playing when a deejay “discovered” Felts singing a cover of “Blue Suede Shoes” during a talent show at his high school in nearby Bernie, Missouri. The rockabilly performance led to a Saturday afternoon program on KDEX in Dexter, Missouri.
Felts recorded for Sun Records in the 1950s, where he has said he was mentored by Roy Orbison and Johnny Cash. In the early 1950s, he joined the Rockets and became the front man for the band in 1956. The group cut records for Mercury Records, five of which were released as singles in 1959. Throughout the 1960s, he continued to pursue his music career but also focused on his young family, including wife Loretta (Stanfield) and children Stacia and Narvel “Bub” Felts Jr. (who would grow up to tour as the drummer in his father’s band until his death in 1995 at age thirty-one in a traffic accident).
Sometime in the mid-1970s, Felts’s manager began to promote him as a solo act. Felts had his first success on the charts in 1973 with a country cover of the song “Drift Away,” a big mainstream hit for Dobie Gray that same year. It was the first of a string of hit songs throughout the decade, first on the Cinnamon label and, after it folded, for the Dot label, which was owned by ABC at the time.
His 1975 single “Reconsider Me” peaked at number two on the country music charts in the United States; the song was a number-one country music hit in Canada. When ABC Records was absorbed by MCA, Felts lost his contract and has since released only sporadic albums on minor labels. He never again charted an album or single.
Felts is a member of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. He lives in Malden, Missouri.
For additional information:
“Narvel Felts.” Allmusic.com. http://www.allmusic.com/artist/narvel-felts-mn0000375287 (accessed March 13, 2013).
“Narvel Felts.” My Kind of Country. http://www.mkoc.com/narvelfelts/bio.htm (accessed March 13, 2013).
Whitburn, Joel. Joel Whitburn Presents Hot Country Songs 1944 to 2008. Menomonee Falls, WI: Record Research 2009.
Last Updated: 04/09/2013