Robert 'Bob' Nelson Relf (January 10, 1937 - November 20, 2007), was an African American R&B and soul musician. Best known as half of the soul music duo Bob & Earl whose song, Harlem Shuffle was released in the US in 1963 and in the UK in 1964. It was re-released 1969 reaching No 7 in the UK charts. He also wrote the song "Blowing My Mind to Pieces" which was popular on the Northern soul scene in the UK in the 1970s.

Musical career

Relf attended Fremont High School and in 1954 when joined fellow pupils Sam Jackson, Ted Brown and Ronald Brown forming a doo wop group, The Laurels. They recorded on the Combo and the Cash Record labels. Their "Our Love" an operatic ballad on the Cash label was described by the music writer Jim Dawson as one of Relf's best recordings -- "a strange, lugubrious performance that sounds like nothing else". Relf's solo recording of "Little Fool" followed in 1956 without success. He spent short stints with the Crescendoes, the Upfronts, The Hollywood Flames and Bobby Day and the Satellites. With the Crescendos, he recorded "Finders Keepers", "I'll Be Seeing You" and "Sweet Dreams" for Atlantic Records in 1956, alongside Prentice Moreland, Young Jessie of The Flairs, and Bobby Byrd of The Hollywood Flames.

Bob and Earl:

Bobby Day formed the original Bob & Earl duo in 1957 with Earl Nelson. When Day left to go solo in 1962, Relf took his place. They recorded Harlem Shuffle in 1963 a song part-arranged by the keyboards player, Barry White.

Bobby Valentino:

As 'Bobby Valentino he recorded Special Delivery b/w How Deep Is The Ocean for the West Coast label Lita label

Bobby Garrett:

Using the pseudonym 'Bobby Garrett' he recorded two singles on the Mirwood label in 1966. "I Can't Get Away" became a Northern soul favourite in the UK and was used to advertise Kentucky Fried Chicken on national TV in the US. Also popular was "My Little Girl" which originally appeared as the flip side of the soulful ballad "Big Brother".

Northern soul:

Relf's song and most popular solo track, "Blowing My Mind To Pieces", was recorded at Ray Charles' RPM studios in Los Angeles. The uplifting song was written by Lou Barreto and was also a hit on the Northern Soul scene in the early 1970s. It was re-released in the UK in 1974 using Relf's name but was by a completely different singer.

Later career:

Relf wrote and produced songs for Jackie Lee including "The Chicken" and "African Boo-Ga-Loo". In the early 1970s Relf resumed working with Barry White helping to produce discs by Love Unlimited, Gloria Scott and White Heat. A Relf composition, "Bring Back My Yesterdays", was recorded by White in 1973 on the album I've Got So Much to Give. He also co-wrote, with White, the B side, "I Should Have Known", from Love Unlimited's hit single, "Walkin' In The Rain With The One I Love".


Having been ill for several years, Relf died at his home in Bakersfield in 2007. He was buried at the Evergreen Cemetery, Los Angeles on 22 November 2007.