Born 24 March 1922, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Arranger / bandleader / guitarist / songwriter / producer. The name Dave Appell will probably be associated first of all with the Cameo-Parkway label, in the history of which he played a substantial part. Appell worked as an arranger for several big bands during his wartime service, including Jimmie Lunceford's black orchestra. During the early fifties his Dave Appell Quartet was the studio band for comedian Ernie Kovacs' first TV program in Philadelphia.
Changing the name of his group to the Applejacks, he recorded for Decca Records and appeared prominently in the 1956 Alan Freed film "Don't Knock the Rock". Next Appell and the Applejacks were playing in Las Vegas, but they soon began to pine for their hometown and returned to Philly, where they started working for Cameo Records, a label founded by Kal Mann and Bernie Lowe over a Christmas party in 1956.
Appell became a jack-of-all-trades at Cameo, doing background vocals, session work as a guitarist, engineering and arranging. One of the first things he and his group did for Cameo was backing John Zacherle on his Top 10 hit "Dinner With Drac". The Applejacks also broke into the national charts under their own name, with the instrumentals "Mexican Hat Rock" (# 16), a jumped-up version of the old "Mexican Hat Dance", and "Rocka-Conga" (# 38), both in 1958. Appell went on to become the leader of Cameo-Parkway's house band, backing such artists as Chubby Checker, Bobby Rydell, the Dovells and Dee Dee Sharp, whose records he also arranged and in many cases co-wrote, like "Let's Twist Again", "Bristol Stomp" and "Mashed Potato Time". These were the years of the twist and other dance crazes, in the launching of which Appell played a vitale role.
Appell left Cameo in 1964. In the seventies he had great success with his productions for Tony Orlando and Dawn, including the # 1 hits "Knock Three Times" (1970) and "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree" (1973), on Bell Records. Appell's co-producer was Hank Medress, who had been a founding member of the Tokens in 1956 and also sang in the reformed Tokens of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" fame.
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