Howard and David Bellamy have logged a lifetime of mileage in the country music business.
"We're like one of those old trucks you see on the highways," Howard Bellamy says. "We seem to keep moving as long as there's a road in front of us."
It's been nearly 20 years since the brothers from Darby scored a spot on the Billboard charts with Nothing Heavy, a not-too-memorable song, yet it cracked the door open enough to usher in the hugely popular Let Your Love Flow a few months later.
From there the Bellamy Brothers have ridden the pop and country charts like a rodeo bull.
Mega-hit singles like If I Said You Had A Beautiful Body (Would You Hold It Against Me), Redneck Girl, Old Hippie and Crazy From The Heart were their blue ribbons. Success has fit the Bellamys well. They bought a touring bus, then another. Now, they own a 2,500-acre cattle ranch in Pasco County, where they built homes and a recording studio.
Most important, though, they built a wonderfully loyal audience that spans generations.
"It's amazing to play on college campuses to kids who weren't even born when we first got on the radio, and find that they know all our old songs," Howard says. "They probably learned them from their parents."
The just-released Let Your Love Flow _ Twenty Years Of Hits, brings to four the number of albums the duo has recorded on their own label. Although they are not all over Top 40 country charts as they were a few years ago, they have prevailed.
"Our record sales are up more than 20 percent, and that amazed us," Howard says. "I think that's a signal that older artists are still real popular with a large percentage of country fans."
Twenty Years Of Hits represents more than a collection of their best-selling singles, Howard says.
"It's really a perspective of our career, how we evolved musically through the years."
From the swaying island beat of You're My Favorite Star to the sturdy, guitar-driven rocker Rip Off The Knob, the Bellamys' strength has always been in clever, somewhat offbeat lyrics and memorable melodies.
"We've always said that if you come to our show, sooner or later, we'll play something you like," Howard says.
On Saturday the Bellamy Brothers gather with musical friends once again for the sixth staging of the Snake, Rattle and Roll Jam. The event, held for the first time at the Florida Expo Park, is the annual day-long country festival that benefits Tampa Bay area charities.
"We're going to rest up a bit then head out again for our 20th anniversary," Howard says, adding, "It's still fun, and as long as it is, we'll keep going."
As long as there is a road in front of them.
AT A GLANCE
The Sixth Annual Snake, Rattle and Roll Jam, Saturday, beginning at 3 p.m. at the Florida Expo Park (formerly the Florida State Fairgrounds). Performers include the Mavericks, Aaron Tippon, Mark Chestnutt and the Bellamy Brothers. Advance tickets are $17 for adults, $8 for children 3-12, day-of-show tickets are $21 for adults, $8 for children 3-12. Children under 3 free. For information: 621-7821.