Vinnie Bell

Vinnie Bell
Black-and-white photo of guitarist wearing a suit while playing in the studio
Bell in 1967
Background information
Birth name Vincent Edward Gambella
Also known as Vincent Bell
Born (1932-07-28)July 28, 1932
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Died October 3, 2019(2019-10-03) (aged 87)
Tenafly, New Jersey, U.S.
Genres Pop music
Years active 1955–2019

Vincent Edward Gambella (July 28, 1932 – October 3, 2019),[1] known as Vinnie Bell, was an American session guitarist, and pioneer of electronic effects in pop music.[2][3]

Life and career

He was born in Brooklyn, New York City, and studied guitar from childhood.[1] He made his first recordings as a session musician on singles by such instrumental groups as the Overtones and the Gallahads, and played in nightclubs in New York City in the late 1950s.[3] During this time, he developed his characteristic "watery" guitar sound, popular in instrumental recordings in the 1960s.[4]

By 1962, Bell decided to devote his energies to working as a studio musician in New York and Los Angeles. He also helped design a number of electric guitar models with the company Danelectro for its Coral line of instruments, including the first electric 12-string guitar,[5] and the electric sitar,[6] which was used, not necessarily by Bell, on such hits as "Cry Like a Baby" by The Box Tops, "Green Tambourine" by The Lemon Pipers, and a cover of the love theme from the 1970 film, Airport.[7] The last of these sold over one million copies and was awarded a gold disc.[8] It also won a Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition in 1971, while Bell was nominated for Best Instrumental Performance.[9]

As well as being notable for his technical innovations, Bell worked extensively as a session player, playing on tracks such as "The Sounds of Silence" by Simon & Garfunkel[10] and for artists such as The Four Seasons[10] and Bob Dylan.[11] He also recorded occasionally under his own name, his albums including The Soundtronic Guitar of Vincent Bell (Independent Record Company, 1960), Whistle Stop (Verve, 1964), and Pop Goes the Electric Sitar (Decca, 1967).[3]

On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Vinnie Bell among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.[12] He died on October 3, 2019 at the age of 87.[1]



  • The Soundtronic Guitar of Vincent Bell (1959)
  • Whistle Stop (Verve, 1964)
  • Big Sixteen Guitar Favorites (Musicor, 1965)
  • Pop Goes the Electric Sitar (Decca, 1967)
  • Good Morning Starshine (Decca, 1969)
  • Airport Love Theme (Decca, 1970)


  • "Airport Love Theme" (US # 31, 1970; AC # 2, 1970, Australia #4[13])
  • "Nikki" (1970) Did not chart

As sideman

With Quincy Jones

With Les McCann

With Clark Terry


  1. ^ a b c "Vincent E. Gambella 1932 - 2019". Retrieved January 25, 2020.
  2. ^ Fiks, Ethan (1998). Tricks and special effects : the player's guide to unusual sounds and techniques. Van Nuys, CA: Alfred Pub. Co. ISBN 0882849581. OCLC 42001348.
  3. ^ a b c "Vinnie Bell". Retrieved 2019-06-23.
  4. ^ Countryman, Dana (2010). Passport to the future : the amazing life and sounds of electronic pop music pioneer Jean-Jacques Perrey. Young, Frank M. Everett, Wa: Sterling Swan Press. ISBN 9781453865873. OCLC 757178430.
  5. ^ Bacon, Tony (2010). Rickenbacker electric 12 string : the story of the guitars, the music, and the great players (1st ed.). Milwaukee, WI: Backbeat Books. ISBN 9780879309886. OCLC 432407412.
  6. ^ December 07, Charles Saufley; 2015. "Danelectro Baby Sitar Review". Retrieved 2019-06-23.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  7. ^ "Vinnie Bell". Discogs. Retrieved 2019-06-23.
  8. ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 274. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
  9. ^ "Vincent Bell". 2019-06-04. Retrieved 2019-06-23.
  10. ^ a b Simons, Dave (2004). Studio stories : how the great New York records were made : from Miles to Madonna, Sinatra to the Ramones (1st ed.). San Francisco, Calif.: Backbeat Books. ISBN 0879308176. OCLC 57543979.
  11. ^ Hart, Damian Fanelli and Josh. "The Top 30 12-String Guitar Songs of All Time". Retrieved 2019-06-23.
  12. ^ Rosen, Jody (June 25, 2019). "Here Are Hundreds More Artists Whose Tapes Were Destroyed in the UMG Fire". The New York Times. Retrieved June 28, 2019.
  13. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 32. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.

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