Thursday, June 21, 2018
News Roundup

Bellamy Brothers shoot video with Weeki Wachee Springs mermaids

WEEKI WACHEE

As a sixth-grader, David Bellamy remembers watching the mermaids swim and smile at Weeki Wachee Springs.

"We went there on a field trip on the school bus, with a couple of moms for chaperones," said Bellamy, who grew up in the small Pasco community of Darby and went to school with a mermaid. "It's just a real landmark in Florida."

The kitchsy attraction, now a state park, became legendary, and so did Bellamy and his big brother, Howard. The pair grew up to form country music duo the Bellamy Brothers, whose pop crossover hit Let Your Love Flow hit No. 1 on Billboard's Hot 100 in 1976. Today, they perform worldwide and enjoy a large fan base in Switzerland, teaming up four years ago with Swiss superstar Marco Pfeuti, known to fans as Gola.

Last month, the brothers and Gola used the quaint Hernando County theme park as the setting for a video to promote Mermaid Cowgirl, a new album scheduled for release this fall in Europe. It will be released on iTunes worldwide.

The idea came to them during a brainstorming session at the Bellamys' ranch in east Pasco.

"We got to talking and I said, 'You know 'Weeki Wachee's really close,' and the next thing you know we're over there," David Bellamy said.

After some phone conversations with Weeki Wachee officials, the group drove up to the park, where they spent the next several hours touring the attraction and shooting footage of four mermaids who pretended to be sirens luring the singers who stood next to the tank.

"It was a very easy shoot for us," Bellamy said. "Mostly what I had to do is lean on the windows and look at beautiful women."

This isn't the first time the 67-year-old park has attracted celebrities.

In the 1960s, Esther Williams and Don Knotts came to see the mermaids. Elvis wowed a crowd of 15,000 fans when he visited during the summer of 1961 while in Inverness to film the movie Follow That Dream.

More recently, Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie shot an episode of The Simple Life 2 there. Other famous visitors include Larry the Cable Guy and Jack Hanna. In 2012, Jimmy Buffett shot footage that he still uses in concerts.

"It's always fun, especially when the stars are local," said John Athanason, marketing and public relations manager for the state park. "The Bellamy Brothers are country music legends."

He said it's impossible to determine whether celebrity use of park footage bolsters ticket sales.

"You do get the 'yeah we saw you in Racine, Wisconsin, and decided on our next trip to Florida we'd have to stop by,' " he said.

After filming at the park, the Bellamys and Gola went to Pine Island, where they shot video while singing on the beach as the sun went down over the Hernando County coast.

"We got a pretty sunset," David Bellamy said.

Next up are some Texas shows and then it's off for a first-time tour of India and Sri Lanka.

"India's something we wanted to do for a long time but it never worked out for us," David said.

After that, a real cultural contrast: Winter Haven.

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